With his business partner Adi Patil, Nico Hodel founded Start It Up NYC, which offers startups and B2B companies a number of digital services, including “app development, digital marketing, and PR.” Aside from Start It Up, the pair also went on to run Rriter as co-CEOs. Rriter is a company working with large B2B companies by supplying them monthly web content optimized for SEO.
Start It Up NYC co-founders Nico Hodel and Adi Patil manage Rriter with the full understanding that businesses of all kinds and sizes will thrive in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace through “strong content marketing.” The need for strong content marketing also means the rise of several online publications to host content from these companies, and these publications will need content every day. To meet this demand, they are always on the lookout for skilled writers who can fill the need.
Aside from Start It Up NYC, Nico Hodel manages Rriter’s team of “communicative writers that can create articles, blog posts, and long-form content that improves a website’s search engine ranking position.” The company’s writing team knows how to “follow directions closely to produce informed content that will drive traffic to your company website.”
Through his work at Start It Up NYC, Nico Hodel understands that good SEO will save companies “more than 40%” of their advertising budget. Content writing is an important part of establishing your brand as a leader in the market, and Rriter can help you craft exciting content to beef up your brand.
Surround yourself with positive, energetic, and intellectually curious people. Nico Hodel, Start It Up NYC
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Nico Hodel: My business partner Adi Patil and I founded a digital innovation agency called Start It Up NYC that has achieve remarkable growth and managed to continue expanding despite the effects of COVID-19. I feel what’s made it a success is our focus on events and community-building efforts that have allowed us to gain the trust of a great many business-owners over the years.
We spent much of the first year of the company connecting with startup founders and selflessly providing value to them however we could. We led our creative team in crafting bespoke, multimedia digital content for them, publishing interviews with them to our growing audience, and sending them useful events (some of which we produced) that allowed them to connect with high-value individuals. Some of those founders became clients, and many of them remain the most loyal supporters of Start It Up to this day.
Those loyal supporters allowed us to weather the economic storm that COVID-19 produced and continue growing.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Nico Hodel: Surround yourself with positive, energetic, and intellectually curious people. Burnout is so often a symptom of loneliness and isolation. Limit the time you spend with negative, unhappy people, even if they are successful.
This piece by the New York Times talks about how emotional states and health choices can be contagious, and I couldn’t agree more. Find the people that embody the emotional states you want to emulate. If you’re a business leader, make them part of your team.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Nico Hodel: Adi Patil has played an absolutely crucial role in leading our team to achieve the success we have. It’s not often that you find a business partner, friend, mentor, confidant and peer rolled up into one person.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
Nico Hodel: A good company provides a needed and relevant product or service to a target market. A great company does the same thing, but is also creates a culture of growth, collaboration, and trust in the process. A great company sets up a system of checks and balance that guarantee the quality of its product or service.
This idea was something Adi and I discussed extensively before launching the content writing service Rriter. A subsidiary of Start It Up, Rriter was specifically formed to create a system of checks and balances through which each piece of content written goes through several rounds of editing before being published. That’s very different from crowdsourced service platforms like Fiverr and Upwork.
It’s that sort of emphasis on quality assurance that makes the difference between a good and a great company in my view.
A great company sets up a system of checks and balance that guarantee the quality of its product or service.
Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Nico Hodel: My advice to that business leader would be to learn something new that excites them. Rediscovering that childlike love of learning will be the perfect first step towards restarting their engines and maybe even reinventing themselves.
Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Nico Hodel: Reiterate your company’s mission, values, and stories to your team and your customers. Those intangible qualities will be the glue that holds your company together in hard times. Don’t be afraid to pivot and abandon business practices that no longer make sense. This article by Harvard Business Review offers some case studies of companies doing just that.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Nico Hodel: Many people underestimate the value of clear communication. I’ve seen so many hours wasted by managers that don’t send clear instructions. What’s worse, many of them get angry when team members don’t know what they’re talking about.
Managers should consider the domain knowledge of who they’re speaking with and go out of their way to express themselves extremely clearly. After doing so, a good next step is to warmly ask if there’s anything they can shed more light on. Taking these small steps takes some patience, but it will save so much time and frustration down the road.
Managers should consider the domain knowledge of who they’re speaking with and go out of their way to express themselves extremely clearly.
Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
Nico Hodel: Relentlessly acknowledge and correct your mistakes. Too many managers become understandably defensive in the face of an honest mistake. This piece by the Washington Post explains why it’s so difficult for leaders of all types to acknowledge their mistakes.
Instead, managers should realize that mistakes will undoubtedly happen and go above and beyond to make the customer whole. You’ll be surprised to see that most customers don’t mind tolerating an honest mistake. It’s how that mistake is handled that matters to them.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Nico Hodel: Reputational risk is a concern that businesses have to reckon with in the increasingly polarized world that we’re living in. Social listening tools and market research can prevent brands from overstepping their bounds. The fear of reputational risk shouldn’t prevent companies from being active of social media as being silent can come with reputational risks of its own.
Too many founders neglect market research when they’re starting a business. Nico Hodel, Start It Up NYC
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Nico Hodel: Too many founders neglect market research when they’re starting a business. To put it bluntly, they invest time and money building a product that people simply don’t want. Your product or service should come from a need that a particular market has. Extensive market research is how to determine whether that need actually exists and whether people are willing and able to pay for a product or service to fulfill it. No one should start a business based on wishful thinking.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Nico Hodel: I would start a movement around innovation and entrepreneurship that places world-class content at the cornerstone of its success.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Nico Hodel: You can find me on social media at:
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!