Elena Popovici: Hacking the growth of business verification

Elena Popovici

February 7, 2022

I went straight from school into this career – said no growth hacker ever. I don’t know anyone in the field who knew enough about growth hacking to have it as their “when I grow up” career. Astronaut was far more likely!

Most growth-hacking masterminds used to come from a startup background. A couple of years ago, though, customer service professionals like me started digging into it. We saw a whole lot of untapped potential there – because stepping out of our comfort zone defines our DNA.

My background

I often like to remember my previous life in the luxurious world of Bvlgari and Hermès. I was like Audrey Hepburn, literally having breakfast with diamonds. There were the snake-themed creations of Serpenti and the most sought-after handbags in the world, Crocodile Birkins. It was a marvelously exciting chapter in my life!

How growth hacking changed my life

My overwhelming passion for traveling, however, led me to prioritize my dream of a nomadic lifestyle. With a view to remote working, I started to get involved in tech. What was once the future has now been the present for some time already. I first came into contact with my growth hacking guru, Mari Luukkainen from Icebreaker.vc, who inspired me from the moment I first heard her speak.

I discovered Icebreaker’s intensive growth-hacking internship program and signed up straight away. Those two months completely changed how I approach my work; it was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life.

As perpetual immigrants, living in a series of different countries, my family life had me unknowingly creating strategies for growth all along, maybe before the father of growth hacking (Sean Ellis, growth leader at Dropbox, Eventbrite, and LogMeIn) had even coined the term.

According to Ellis, growth is driven by focusing intensively on customers: obtaining them, retaining them, engaging them, and motivating them to come back and buy more. The growth-hacking methodology calls for cross-functional growth teams that combine expertise in product development, analytics, engineering, and marketing to rapidly generate, prioritize, and test ideas for growth.

My Growth Hacking bible and its father, Sean Ellis. Source: LinkedIn

In other words, growth hacking means that I am up in everyone’s business at Vespia. And they love it! I get to conduct cool tests and experiments, trying different approaches to best grow the business. The idea is to improve and scale up the tests that worked while, crucially, learning from the ones that didn’t work (and not repeating them).

Airbnb, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Uber absolutely nailed growth hacking. I’m sure you’ve stayed in an Airbnb apartment at least once. It was just a small-scale couch surfers’ secret until it got growth-hacked!

These companies didn’t explode by simply building great products and hoping they would catch on. There was a rigorous methodology behind their extraordinary rise. It wasn’t just a bunch of flashy marketing campaigns. Marketing focuses only on an audience’s awareness of a company; growth hacking is about the overall experience. This means awareness, acquisition, activation, retention, revenue, and referral, the stages of the so called Pirate Funnel, also known as the AAARRR Funnel.

The Pirate Funnel. Source: Tunity 2019.

The commitment to always being there with the customer, not being afraid to get your hands dirty, collecting feedback in real time, conquering bugs with creativity, and finding solutions fast is how I hack growth at Vespia, where I started as a growth-hacking intern (thanks to Icebreaker.vc).

Why business verification?

I had no idea what business verification was, but it was love at first sight. As I familiarized myself with the RegTech world, I realized how ridiculous it was that, in the 21st century, there are companies still verifying businesses manually. Vespia wants to change that (and then change the world).

My first days at Vespia, formerly known as KYB Platform 2021.

Helping my team spread the word about the future of business verification is why I get up every morning. I’m part of something big and it feels great. SMBs that are in the business of changing the world – and who need to move fast – get serious speed benefits from our all-in-one business verification solution.

If like Vespia, you know there must be a better way for businesses to verify their partners so that they can get on with their core business in confidence, then I would like to talk to you. If you’re a natural non-conformist, connect with me through LinkedIn today. We’re constantly growing our team: join us and discover a hidden gem in business verification!

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Elena Popovici is a Junior Growth Hacker at Vespia. Before joining Vespia she hacked the luxury industry at Hermès and Bvlgari. She started her career in growth hacking the B2B world at Icebreaker.vc, one of the most important venture capitals in Finland.

Join Elena and our team on the mission. We're hiring!