In June, 2011, Stacey Ferreira was not long out of high school when she and her brother decided to launch MySocialCloud — a startup business based on securing and storing all your Internet passwords. Operating on a shoestring budget, Stacey naturally gravitated to social media looking for opportunities to promote the business.
“Up to this point, I was kind of a casual user of Twitter,” Stacey explains. “Like many up-and-coming entrepreneurs, one of the accounts I followed and really paid attention to was [entrepreneur and philanthropist] Richard Branson.” To Ferreira, Branson represented the epitome of entrepreneurial success — fame and fortune coupled with a down-to-earth and caring persona. As it turned out, one day she happened to see a tweet from Richard Branson inviting anyone who donated $2000 to his particular charity to an exclusive cocktail party in Miami. Every attendee would also get to meet Branson in person.
“As a recent high school grad and startup founder with very little funds, I didn’t know how I was going to pull this off, but I knew I had to be there,” recalls Ferreira. Without thinking about how she’d come up with the $2000 to donate, and figuring that Branson might respond to an honest, transparent approach, Ferreira replied to the tweet, asking about how she’d be able to attend the cocktail party as she was still underage.
Her approach worked. Branson replied that as long as she could come up with the donation, he’d make the necessary arrangements to meet her in person. “My brother and I both borrowed $2000 from our parents, made the donations, flew to Miami and met Sir Richard — just like he said,” says Ferreira. That would have been a big enough thrill for any startup founder but what came next was even better.
After meeting and obviously making an impression on Branson, Ferreira took this golden opportunity to discuss her startup and her business plan for the company. Branson arranged for one of his business partners to fly to Los Angeles to find out additional details about Ferrreira’s Internet security business.
Within a week or after that meeting, “Branson offered us just under $1 million in startup investment capital,” says Ferreira. “It proves that there are amazing opportunities on Twitter for those that are paying attention and ready to capitalize on them.”
“One of the main Twitter tactics I used to find and leverage this opportunity was to pay attention to influencers and to those people who could likely benefit my business in some way,” Ferreira says. Since this experience, Ferreira has become a much more sophisticated Twitter user. She now has several Twitter lists dedicated to following groups of accounts that would make good partners, investors, and clients.
Asked what other advice she has for other entrepreneurs using Twitter, Ferreira says that it’s not enough to create a bunch of Twitter lists — you have to monitor them regularly too. “Although there are lots of opportunities on Twitter, they can come and disappear again very quickly, so you have to be paying attention to your lists, and the accounts within those lists that you think have the most potential”, advises Ferreira.
Ferreira also advises that you should never sell yourself short on social media. “It’s easy for people to say ‘I’ll never be able to get in touch with someone like that’ or some other negative excuse. But look at me, a young, broke kid, not long out of high school, competing in a world of well established Internet security businesses. I not only got to meet Richard Branson personally, he also invested close to a million dollars in my business.” Adds Ferreira, “If I can do it, anyone can.”
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