Houston is the co-founder of BAMF Media, a growth marketing agency based out of Venice, California. Learn how Houston and his co-founder Josh Fechter have grown BAMF from 0 to 30 employees in just one year.
Davis Baer: For those that don’t know, what does BAMF Media do?
Houston Golden: BAMF is a growth marketing agency focused on driving high ROI through unconventional marketing techniques. We’ve got a reputation for our LinkedIn growth hacking and for hugely successful viral marketing campaigns. We also specialize in growth strategy, B2B growth hacking, and PR hacking.
We also run a global community of more than 20,000+ members, Badass Marketers & Founders (BAMF), and Zuckerberg himself voted us one of his favorite Facebook groups.
What were you doing before BAMF?
At my first job out of college, I was literally coding all day in my boss’s garage here in LA. It was the startup dream, and I was hooked from the beginning.
I’ve spent most of my career split between software engineering, marketing, and entrepreneurship. I eventually landed a job as a Director of Marketing at one of the top accelerators in LA, StartEngine, where I helped build and launch their equity crowdfunding platform.
Before starting BAMF, I was managing a dozen or so clients as a Director of Growth Strategy at another agency. Then, I met Josh.
How did you and Josh Fechter, your cofounder, meet?
In late 2016, this random guy added me as a friend on Facebook and invited me to join his group called “San Francisco Growth Hackers.” It was barely more than a hundred people, and even though I didn’t live in San Francisco, I joined.
The content and growth hacks that Josh and others were sharing in the group hadn’t been shared publicly before. I remember my first message to Josh was to ask him to stop sharing all my secrets. We laughed about how only 1% will be able to follow through anyways. And I eventually joined in and starting sharing growth hacking guides too. It was addicting, and the group started growing by the thousands.
When Josh posted that he wanted to expand to a couple more cities, I figured I’d take advantage of the opportunity and offered to host the first BAMF LA meetup.
A week later, about 15 of us met up here in Venice at a Chinese restaurant. Josh and I really hit it off.
Josh told me he’d just quit his job, and I told him I’d hit a wall at mine. So I asked him, “What if I quit my job and we start an agency together? We could call it BAMF Media.”
“No way,” he laughed, “Agencies are a shitty business.”
Then we talked about how we could offer our growth hacks as a service and help the other founders in the community. I told him that with his community promoting us and my execution and experience, we’d be unstoppable.
I guess he really bought my sales pitch, because he moved down to LA a few weeks later, and we started up BAMF Media.
How did you guys acquire your first few customers, and how have you scaled to where you are today?
I actually told Josh that we needed to have our first client secured before I’d quit my job. I thought it might take us awhile to get interest — I didn’t want to be left hanging in the meantime.
But sure enough, the next week, he got us a lead at a conference he spoke at. We closed it in just a few days and that was the start of the agency.
That’s how we’ve gotten many of our clients, both early on and today — Josh does a lot of speaking gigs at big conferences, which gets our name out to potential clients.
We’re also constantly pushing out content on Facebook, LinkedIn, and our own blog. The BAMF Facebook group was already a huge success when we started the agency, so we’ve utilized those connections to get clients and continued to grow it from 5,000 to the 20,000 community it is today.
It’s all about putting yourself out there. I’m big on reaching out to prospective clients first — sending them emails, connecting with them on LinkedIn. Getting clients isn’t magic. You have to be out there building those relationships and can’t ever be afraid of rejection.
How big is the BAMF team now?
Our team is more than 30 employees now. I never could’ve imagined we’d expand this fast. The first couple of months it was just Josh and me. Josh was promoting us all day and I was handling all the services. I won’t lie, it’s a huge relief to have a strong team behind us now. It’s allowed us to take on some big clients and see awesome results.
What is the craziest hack or stunt that you guys pulled off?
We had this crazy sex music app client, BedBeats. It’s an app that syncs your music with the sexual rhythm of your bed. They had no marketing budget, but we knew we could help their app go viral.
We pitched the press with hilarious headlines that got picked up overnight. The next morning the world was buzzing about BedBeats. We got them features on VICE, Rolling Stone, Daily Mail, and countless top publications. The stories we planted in the press drove their app to the 69th place in the App Store in the Music Category for that entire week. For almost no budget, we got them tens of thousands of app downloads.
That was a fun one.
What can we expect from BAMF in the future?
We want to be a 100 person company by the end of next year. The long-term goal is to become much more than an agency, but that’s what is fueling our growth right now.
We’re always working on more badass content — books, blogs, guides — as well as internal tech tools that we plan to launch in the future as SaaS products. From the beginning, we’ve focussed on building our own growth hacking tech tools, so hopefully the same tools that help us can help other growth hackers and marketers.
We want to keep growing our community, as well. We plan to scale out the local hubs and chapters of BAMF and grow our in-person events in the next year.
We have tons of other big plans in the works — keep an eye out to see what’s next!
Where can people go to learn more about you and BAMF?
Join the Facebook Group: Badass Marketers & Founders (BAMF)
Follow Josh and me on LinkedIn:
Follow Our Facebook Page: https://facebook.com/bamfmedia
Subscribe to the Josh bot to get our BAMF BIBLE 2018 and future updates: https://bamf.media/bamfbible2018
Lastly, feel free to follow on Instagram: @badassfounder