Meet The Wattpad Stars: Gavin Hetherington

Today we introduce you to Gavin Hetherington, a pioneer who explores the chat story genre on our new app Tap by Wattpad.

Gavin joined Wattpad in 2014 after he came across a successful Wattpad writer on Twitter. He decided to upload the first story in his Abysmal Sanctuary series and watched as the accolades began to roll in. Everything changed when Gavin was discovered by Wattpad Star Kelly Anne Blount who invited him on stage at WattCon in New York in October 2016 to talk about his Wattpad writing experience.

Since then, Gavin has had some great moments working with Wattpad. One of his strongest memories though, came during a train ride home after being invited to be a Wattpad Star:

“It took a while for me to believe it, but as soon as I did, I was overjoyed...the first moment I got to sit down by myself and really think about what happened, I cried a little because grown men cry too when they realise one of their dreams just came true.”

Now Gavin is tackling a new challenge, chat style storytelling: “The best way to rejuvenate your creativity is through doing something totally out there...a writer needs a challenge to ensure that our imaginations are still in check.”

His first story, The Riddling of Rhiannon, showcases the tension and pacing that makes these chat stories “a 5-minute adrenalin boosts [that] gets you excited and scared and hungry for more.”

 

Gavin’s Tips for Chat Style Writers:

  • Open Big: Tap requires that immediate rush that you don’t get on Wattpad because the stories are longer, so you usually have to wait for that big bang.

  • Have Fun: Write a conversation you would find yourself having in real life, or recreate scenes from your own life just to get started and to really nail the authenticity of voice

  • Brainstorm: When I get asked to write a story, I have a complete idea of what it will be about. For example, for ‘The Babysitter,’ I just imagined what a mother’s worst nightmare would be and that would be the realization that you’ve left your kids under the care of a psychopath. Having a scenario will help you immensely and it will get you really excited to write it.

Gavin has this to say about the appeal of horror-focused chat stories: “Tap is immediate and helps us impatient folk who devour scary stories in one go. That’s probably why the Horror genre is popular on Tap; they’re exhilarating to read, and I have read quite a few [stories] on Tap now.”

In the future, he plans to experiment with mystery and romance themed chat stories. He’s also interested in using Tap to promote the same positive messages of female and LGBT empowerment that can be found in his Wattpad stories.

“It’s remarkable how revolutionary Tap feels already, and it hasn’t even been two months since it launched!...Not only can it stand alone and provide entertaining stories, but I’m imagining how complimentary it will be to my own, longer works on Wattpad. I’m even planning on doing a full-length retelling of my ghost story, Fen of Stagnant Waters, on Tap in the form of messages.”

 

Scaling The Future: Allen Lau Contributes Insights to INC

Wattpad Co-founder and CEO Allen Lau is one of the newest contributors to INC.com, a leading site for business news, ideas, and inspiration.

His Column, Scaling the Future, will examine the challenges startups face in the innovation economy. It will also outline advice for entrepreneurs rooted in real world experience. An excerpt of his first column is enjoyable below and in full here

Clone Wars: What Facebook and Snapchat Can Teach You About Disruption

The media is obsessed with Facebook’s rollout of Snapchat-like features, and what they mean for the two companies. It’s easy to see why - competition creates drama, and drama commands attention.

Facebook Vs. Google+. Periscope Vs. Meerkat. Foursquare Vs. Gowalla. Each major advancement in technology brings a wave of disruption that can level any playing field.

Every business is a target for disruption. Right now, someone’s coding a product or service that may fundamentally change the way you do business.

In my decades of experience in the tech industry, I’ve come away with a better understanding of why businesses go after each other, and what it takes to survive as either the champion or contender.

Underdog Contenders Steal The Title With:  

Belief

In the early years of Wattpad, my co-founder Ivan Yuen and I only made enough ad revenue a month to buy a single cup of coffee. Most entrepreneurs might have cut their losses and walked away, but a deeply-rooted belief in our company vision kept us in the game.

We believed our product would revolutionize how people discover, share, and connect through stories. Meaningful companies are built upon a strong, timeless vision.

Speed

If a problem exists in the market that your product or service can solve, don’t expect it to exist forever. Competition in business is time sensitive. In almost all cases, there is an extremely small window of opportunity to win.

Google solved the problem of search and became the portal to the internet. Snapchat pioneered ephemeral visual communication, then moved quickly to capture the market. Speed is one of the best assets for a growing company. Make decisions quickly and execute with purpose.

Ambition

In 1993, I left an unexciting job at IBM to join a startup called Delrina. When I joined the company, it had just over 100 employees. Two years later, the company employed over 700 people and was acquired by Symantec.

Riding that rocket-ship was a life changing experience. There I learned to be ambitious enough to aim for global scale and fearless enough to take on the toughest competitors. If you build an amazing product for a global market, the sky's the limit. Aim high and find excitement in the prospect of building a world-class company.

Writers Can Build Their Digital Brand With These Classes From BrainStation

The Wattpad app is a great way for writers to reach an engaged community - we connect a monthly audience of 55 million people who spend over 15.5 billion minutes on our platform.

To help more people get the most of Wattpad as an audience building tool, we recently reached out to the digital skills training company, BrainStation, to find out what resources they recommend for someone looking to build their digital presence.

Their part-time digital marketing course is tailored to beginners who want to learn how to stand out digitally, whether it be for their business or personal brand. The course breaks down digital marketing into four components, with each section led by an industry expert: Branding & Strategy, Owned, Paid & Earned Media, E-Mail Marketing, and Analytics.

The SEO/SEM & Analytics course is tailored to those with a marketing background who want to sharpen their digital knowledge by learning advanced Search Engine Marketing and analytics skills. Mastering this art can help your discoverability on the web.

Outside of those courses, BrainStation also provides full-day workshops in Social Media Strategy, Search Engine Optimization, Google AdWords, and Google Analytics.

We understand the challenges a storyteller faces in today’s digital age in growing and engaging their online audience. While some writers understand how to grow their readership to profit from writing on Wattpad, we’re always looking for ways to help more creators find success on our platform. Check out BrainStation’s offerings if you’re looking to supercharge your digital promotions and online brand.

If you’re looking for some more inspiration, check out our Meet the Wattpad Stars interview series.

Scaling the Future: Allen Lau's Advice for Writing Professional Email

Wattpad Co-founder and CEO Allen Lau is one of the newest contributors to INC.com, a leading site for business news, ideas, and inspiration.

His Column, Scaling the Future, will examine the challenges startups face in the innovation economy. It will also outline advice for entrepreneurs rooted in real world experience. An excerpt of his third column is enjoyable below and in full here

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Writing a professional email that results in a clear action is truly an artform. This may sound harsh, but no one is obligated to respond to an unsolicited email.

Time is a valuable resource and surveys show that the average American employee can spend upwards of six hours a day in their inbox! If that's the average, you can imagine what it's like for senior executives. Many view Inbox zero as a unicorn-like myth.

I'm not unlike the average American--I receive and send a flood of emails. While writing, I always keep this 3-point checklist in mind. It increases the odds of a response every single time.

  1. Ensure they open your email
  2. Ensure they've read and understood your email
  3. Ensure they respond

Keep them in mind and you can reach people on every rung of the corporate ladder. If you want to take your emailing writing a step further, consider these tips:

Leverage Your Professional Network for An Attention Grabbing Email Introduction

A great way to get your email opened is by way of introduction. As someone who's grown a massive social network, I can attest to the value of social proof. An introduction from someone connected to the person you want to reach will instantly increase your credibility and thereby your odds of an email reply.

At minimum, you should be able to authentically reference the name of a project or person your contact can recognize. If your email doesn't command attention, it risks falling to the bottom of an infinite inbox.

Read Allen's Full Post on INC

Wattpad Kicks-Off The Upside Foundation’s 150x150 Challenge

Today, The Upside Foundation launches 150x150: Turn Equity Into Charity with Wattpad’s CEO and Co-founder, Allen Lau, and other prominent Canadian startups WealthSimple, Overbond, and Hubba.

The national charity makes it easy for early-stage or high-growth Canadian companies to give back in a meaningful way. Any Canadian startup or private high-growth company can take the Upside pledge by committing stock options or warrants that will be converted to cash at the time of an exit or IPO, and donated to a registered Canadian charity .

Their latest campaign aims to grow the number of companies who have pledged to give back to 150 in the lead up towards Canada's 150th birthday on July 1st. Wattpad, is the first company to kick-off the 150x150 challenge:

“At Wattpad, we believe startups aren’t just about profits, they’re about giving back to communities, at home and abroad. We’ve already made a remarkable impact on millions of people’s lives around the world. Today, we pledge to join the 150x150 campaign to demonstrate our continued commitment to positive social impact,” said Allen Lau, Wattpad co-founder and CEO. “Whether you’re in the early stages or a well-established start-up nearing exit, it always makes sense to support charities that serve your users and mean something to your team. If you haven’t already joined the Upside Foundation, what are you waiting for? Join the 150x150 campaign today!”

Canadian startups who make the pledge will donate a small portion of their equity to The Upside Foundation (typically in the form of stock options), which are converted to cash upon a liquidity event and donated to the charity of the company’s choosing. Over 75 Canadian startups have already pledged to donate equity to charity and several prominent Canadian startups, including Wattpad, have taken the Upside pledge.

To date, there have been two exits from the Upside network, including BlueCat Networks, which sold for $400 million in February 2017; BlueCat CEO, Michael Harris donated the proceeds from a portion of his stock options to the Enbridge® Ride to Conquer Cancer® benefiting the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. The first company to exit was Understoodit, who was acquired by EventMobi in 2013 and donated their equity proceeds to the East York Learning Experience and Mentoring Junior Kids Organization.

The Upside Foundation is partnered with Pledge 1%, a global movement founded by the Salesforce Foundation and others to inspire companies around the world about the benefits of early stage corporate philanthropy. Through Pledge 1%, over 1800 companies have donated one per cent of their equity, people or product to charity.

How Companies Can Take the Pledge

The Upside Foundation encourages Canadian companies to join those who have already taken the pledge.

1. Companies will need to fill out the online pledge form found on The Upside Foundation’s website and a representative will be in touch.

2. Once the pledge form is received, companies will receive detailed instructions on how to contribute from an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) or a simple legal form, with flexibility depending on the stage of the company.