How To Growth Hack Everything: A Q&A With Daniel Novaes

Assumptions, conventions and ‘herd’ thinking are the bane of entrepreneurship. To fend them off, you have to surround yourself with people who are the opposite: curious, unconventional and fiercely independent. That is one of many reasons why I’m grateful for my friendship with Daniel Novaes, founder and CEO of Pairade.

Originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Dan is a life hacker, self-taught entrepreneur and uncommonly wise 26-year-old. He started his first company at the age of 15, and since then, his ventures have generated more than $16 million in revenue. Today, Pairade is pioneering a new app-website-network hybrid that brings your favorite apps, services and content together, all in one place.

I sat down with Dan to talk about growth hacking and sales. Here are some fresh insights from Dan that should clear away all the assumptions, conventions and herd thinking that might be holding you back.

Jayna Cooke: Dan, people know you as a “life hacker” – what does that mean?

Daniel Novaes: Basically, everyone follows a set of rules that say, “here’s how life goes, don’t mess around with the system.” Life hacking is about finding inefficiencies and loopholes in that accepted system. You can apply this approach to everything – businesses, diets, workouts, relationships, buying a car, etc.

Cooke: What distinguishes you from other entrepreneurs out there?

Novaes: I take what you might call the brute force approach. The concept is that if you get your product in front of enough people, it will take off. The Airbnb story is a good example. Shortly after Airbnb launched in 2008, they hired a team to go through Craigslist and respond to wanted ads for apartments, posing as “fans” of Airbnb. The emails recommended that the apartment owners feature their places on Airbnb. The company also created a script that automatically posted Airbnb listings on Craigslist. These two growth hacks probably broke Craigslist’s terms of service, but they brought in millions of users. To pull off the brute force approach, you can’t do what everyone else is doing. You have to flirt with some grey zones.

Cooke: What do you sell, and who do you sell to?

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