Target Your Audiences Early to Propel Startup Success

Illustration by Rob Goodman

Startup founders have plenty to think about when it comes to launching and growing their businesses. One thing that should never be left on the backburner: Defining your ideal audience. Without a clear view of the personas you’re targeting, you’ll likely waste valuable time and advertising dollars talking to the wrong people.

Rather than risk barking up the wrong tree with your promotional efforts, take some advice from Viva Chu. Viva’s the co-founder and CEO of Good Boy Studios, one of the businesses we’ve supported at Inspiration Ventures. Good Boy Studios enables pet-based companies to tap into a proprietary Pet Demographics® Audience Platform. The Platform allows those companies to concentrate their marketing efforts on appealing to the right pet parents every time. Clients of Good Boy Studios include tons of big brands in the pet industry like Purina and Mars Pet Care.

To help build Good Boy Studios, Chu leaned heavily on his expertise as a serial tech entrepreneur and ex-Googler with a passion for industry disruption. After several successful exits, Viva has developed a few proven methods of targeting the right audiences rapidly and reliably to fuel growth. Below are two of Viva’s suggestions for choosing the right market for any product or service.

1. Start broad to go narrow

It’s fine to have a “big picture” idea of your startup’s audience, especially at first. For instance, Good Boy Studio’s primary audience is businesses that sell to pet parents. Aligning his content with that broad audience has made sense for Viva. However, he’s discovered that drilling down into the verticals within that broader market (and assisting his pet-focused clientele on how to do likewise) makes tactical sense.

For example, one of Good Boy Studio’s clients is a dog toy company. Instead of positioning itself as a solution for all dog owners, the company has worked with Good Boy Studios to position itself as a dog toy company that sells outdoorsy-type merchandise. This narrower focus has informed the company’s creative content and allowed the brand to connect with owners of dog breeds that prefer outdoor recreation, exercise, and adventures.

Don’t forget that you can have multiple customer segments, not just one or two. Selling to each segment will take more effort in terms of building unique customer pipelines and journeys. Nevertheless, leaning into a wider portfolio of segments can help you grab larger portions of smaller pies and allow you to scale up operations faster.

2. Revisit your audience targets routinely

As part of your regular marketing efforts, aim to prospect for new audiences based on your current audiences. Crawl over your data looking for trends. Explore social media to uncover lookalike audiences (or unexpected ones) for your products and services. Then, conduct some experiments. As Viva explains, when you expose your brand and offerings to different audiences, you have a better likelihood of catching fire with new buying cohorts.

Remember that a newly discovered audience could become the springboard for another startup, too. Good Boy Studios grew out of gamified social media-style apps for pet parents that Viva developed. (Check them out: Pet Parade® and PetStar™!) After signing up different advertisers to support his app, he realized that the data he collected through the app could be valuable to a multitude of pet businesses. Instead of back-burnering his realization, Viva leveraged it to launch his next venture.

Accelerating the adoption of your early-stage company’s products or services is vital to turning profitable as soon as possible. So never overlook the importance of finding the right audiences most likely to want what you’re selling.

If you’re an entrepreneur in the process of building a game-changing company, we’d love to discuss how we can help bring your vision to life. Connect with us at and on LinkedIn too.