Kevin Chau

Growth at Divshot. Seattle native. Always learning.

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A Love Hate Relationship With Seattle

There’s a lot going on with Seattle. It’s why I want to leave and why I haven’t left yet.

Love: Nearby Nature

Admittedly you’d be hard pressed to find so much nature in another medium sized city. Winter sports are within an hour drive away, and so is the ocean. You can go kayaking with Orcas and sit down for a latte right after. Nature is in Seattle’s DNA. You’ll find the most epic REI store, and people take their Gore-Tex seriously. In a day, you can go surfing, rock climbing, skiing, or hiking, and still come home to sleep in your own bed.

Hate: Transportation

Seattle drivers suck. They’re super accident prone, they drive 55 in the passing lane, and extra passive aggressive. It’s so bad in fact, that the local insurance company, Pemco, has a running series of satirical commercials around it.

Then there’s the lame excuse for a public transportation system. It’s where bendy buses...

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What is your Creative Outlet?

Something that’s occured to me over the last few months has changed my general view on things. There’s always been something looming in thought that I couldn’t understand. It was that everyone has a creative side. Even if you don’t consider yourself a ‘creative’.


In that time, I’ve rediscovered photography, and it’s had a positive impact on my overall demeanor. I was first formally introduced to photography by a family member sometime during high school. But it would be safe to say that the curiosity has always been there growing up. I remember that my Grandma had a good friend who owned a camera shop in Seattle’s Chinatown, which stood just a few doors down from where Jade Garden is now. It was quite a store - my Grandma would take me there frequently, and over time I would be introduced to film, Polaroid, and cameras with crazy bellows. I still have a manual light meter around...

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What Makes a Great Marketer?

In sales, there’s the ever-looming question on whether the best salespeople are born or made. Marketers fall into the same pool of people. However, successful marketers can be at both ends of a spectrum. You can be considered great if you are extra gregarious and outgoing, as well as, quiet and deeply analytical. However I think to be a great marketer, you need to bridge the gap between the two, without being a mediocre generalist.

There’s a post out there from Rand, that talks about the T-Shaped Marketer. But what makes a great marketer isn’t the immediate skills they know - those can be picked up and mastered with time, but rather the ability to learn and apply.

So, what makes a great marketer?

Deeply Analytical

This one is a given. You can’t go out there, spewing stuff out of your brain and saying it’s going to work. Data plays such an important role in successful marketing, that...

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Why Programming and Development is so Difficult

Over the past few weeks I’ve been diving into a few things: AngularJS, and Python. Needless to say, it’s fun, but damn is it hard. However, it’s no different than other hard sciences (Chemistry, Biology, etc). That doesn’t mean it’s as easy.

I’ve talked with a lot of people on why I’ve been struggling with programming, and why I didn’t experience the same struggle with the sciences in college. I believe it is because of just the massive size of the programming toolbox that is hard to grasp on your own.


When I say toolbox, it’s all of the little things you can use to achieve your programming goal. For those who have taken Organic Chemistry, an example of a tool in your toolbox would be Hoffman’s Elimination, adding 2 chemicals to turn amines into alkenes (I vaguely remember, so don’t hold this against me). Web development is no different, for example if you want to make an API...

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Becoming Those Around You

Remember how your dear mother always told you to choose your friends wisely? Guess what, she’s right. Believe it or not, the people you choose to surround your life with, have a huge influence on your direction.

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

Jim Rohn via Thomas Schranz

Belonging is an innate part of human nature. It’s exactly why clubs, groups, and sadly, gangs, exist. It’s also why the term ‘getting out’ exists.

Many people will tell you that you should lead your own way. But I believe that is how some get lost. The feeling of belonging is often so strong, that it blinds you of the greener grass. Whether it is or isn’t.

Getting out

I’ve 'gotten out’ many times. First out of a terrible group of high school friends who had low ambitions. Next, out of the egotistical and dog-eat-dog world of healthcare and science. And most recently, out of the...

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Principles of Startup Support

Support is the most important thing on the user-facing side of a startup. Because what’s more important than your customers? No other single area can improve or destroy acquisition, experience, and retention.

If you believe in the style of doing things that don’t scale, then you need to have good support.

I’ve been paying attention to how good companies do support, and how bad companies do support. If you follow me on Twitter, then you’ve seen my recent rage from the absolute terrible support by Bank of America and US Bank. This sparked the concept of exceptional support.

Good support follows the principles below:

  1. Acknowledge fault or concern
  2. Immediately resolve the initial problem as best as possible with information given.
  3. Offer condolences and be take a welcoming tone to their outreach.
  4. Make sure that their overall experience with the product is good. If it isn’t, rectify it in as...

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It Starts With The Product

Growth hacking, or whatever you want to call it, varies greatly from startup to startup, and from stage to stage. What you do can change overnight.

So what is it then, early stage growth? What do you actually do? Well after 6 months of working at Divshot, I get it now. After doing what I did at Moz, and doing what I did at Stride, applying the same things only worked so well, and only moved the needle by so much. I needed to really dive in and figure it out.

So, how do you do early stage growth?

Start the flywheel

Get some users in the door, and have a consistent flow of new users. This might be the most difficult thing you do. Get that flywheel turning with a combination of short and long term pushes.

Short term

Getting press, social buzz, newsletters, these are all things you can do right away to get users in the door. Prompt them to share, and you can get a stream of users that...

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Four Words That Will Destroy You

The worst thing you can do for yourself is to metaphorically shoot yourself in the foot, before you’ve started anything. The problem is not the words themselves that destroy you, but the mindset that leads you to them.

What I’ve learned from talking to a number of different people is that there are many 1-bit ways of separation. They are all simple, and for the most part, true. Doers and Don'ters, Leaders and Followers - shockingly simple, however, true.

Yes, there may be outliers, or inliers, for this matter. But talk to enough people, and you’ll see people putting themselves in their circle.

…people putting themselves in their circle.

That’s the problem, basic human psychology says that people want to belong, and when there’s no longer someone to tell them where they supposedly should belong, they place themselves. Many times, the place they choose, is misguided.

I can’t do that....

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My Frustration with the Auto Industry

As my first (new) car, my 2007 VW GTI, has crossed the 6 digit mark, I once again begin my plan on my next car. I’ve learned a lot from owning this car, the return of turbochargers, the technology of direct injection, and the pitfalls of new technology.

Owning the GTI that marked the return of the hot hatch has set the bar very high in what I look for in my next car. My understanding of the mechanical function, drivability, and long-term ownership has skyrocketed.

It has been 7 years in the US since VW released the 5th generation GTI. Let’s take a look at the key points of this car.

  • 32mpg Highway
  • 200hp (which has been around 280 with readily available mods and software)
  • Turbo
  • Direct Injection
  • Twin-clutch transmission

Compare those key elements with new cars you can buy today. The cars that I have been comparing as a possible next are the:

  • BMW M235i
  • Mercedes CLA 45 AMG
  • Subaru WRX...

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The Growth Difficulties of Passive SaaS

Idealistically, there are two types of SaaS products. Active and Passive. The key difference is that Active SaaS accomplishes it’s primary function when you aren’t using it. Essentially, the magic happens in the background. Crazy Egg is a great example - it collects cursor/eye tracking data automatically.

For the majority of 2013, I’ve been spending my time growing Passive SaaS products. It’s very different. Especially compared to growing an Active product.

I’ll admit, it took me awhile to realize the differences and new challenges with the change. Switching over was more difficult than expected because it wasn’t a simple change in a product category. It was a dynamic change overall.

The Difference in Pitch

When you step back and view the industry as a whole, the majority of Active SaaS products sell you data. Data that would be otherwise difficult to acquire. Crazy Egg, Mixpanel,...

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