Using the World’s Time Zones to Help Your Startup Succeed

Giulio Saggin
Giulio Saggin
Tuesday 28 November 2023

Exposure is integral to the success of any startup and, if we've learnt one thing in the short life of SecAlerts, it's that timing is everything.

Those of you who have ventured to our 'About' page will know that SecAlerts is based in Brisbane, on the east coast of Australia. If you have travelled Down Under, you will know it is very much out of the way ... of anywhere! To go with this, the time zones here (we have three) are collectively referred to by many visitors as: "What the?!"

The time zone in Brisbane (AEDT) is 17 hours ahead of West Coast USA, 14 hours ahead of East Coast USA, 8-9 hours ahead of Europe and 4-5 hours ahead of Asia. This quirk of geography means that if we fly to Los Angeles and leave Brisbane at 10am, we arrive in LA at 6am on the same day! Or, while some of you are sitting down to dinner, we are having lunch ... tomorrow. (It also means we watch EVERY Olympics Games in the middle of the night, or so it seems)

Trial and error has taught us that, at this stage in the life of SecAlerts, the US West Coast is our prime audience. Readers from elsewhere in the world, please don't be miffed. It's just that we have learnt that most of the action takes place not long after the West Coast has had its first coffee of the day. That's the way the tech world rolls and, for a startup, pleasing its largest audience is essential, so ... "Hello, West Coast!"

Posting on our usual relevant forums and social media platforms any old time ... any old Down Under time ... doesn't always mean reaping rewards. A post put up after a hard day at the office (5pm) means it makes its grand appearance in the US at midnight Pacific time zone (3am Eastern). By the time our intended readership has woken from their slumber several hour later, wiped the sleep from their eyes, had a yawn and a stretch, and checked their device/computer, that midnight SecAlerts post has disappeared down the list of whichever website we posted to. The same applies to Twitter (bye, bye birdy!).

We didn't pay much attention to the time of day here when we posted our first story online (Two Billion Records Exposed in 'Smart Home' Breach) but it did good business and a swag of signups to SecAlerts resulted. Nice.

We knew there was no point posting in the late afternoon, so waited closer to midnight in order to get the East Coast arriving at work and the West Coast waking up. After the success of that first story, we timed our next couple of posts along this train of thought, so we thought we'd get the most bang for our online buck. However, the results were less than pleasing and more like a nibble on a fishing line than "You're going to need a bigger boat."

One morning I woke and realised I hadn’t posted our latest story from the night before. It was 6am (1pm Pacific, 4pm Eastern) and I rushed to get it on our usual forums etc, as there was only a few hours until everyone started packing up and going home. When I checked an hour later, it was booming across the board. Aha! I was onto something. It appeared the secret was to drop stories into the lap of our audience during their work day. I tried this a couple more times to make sure and, while not every post lit up the internet, several got good numbers and proved that early morning was the way to go.

The results speak for themselves and four subsequent posts have resulted in more than 63,000 website visits. Our best performing story - "US City Rejects $5.3 Million Ransom Demand and Restores Encrypted Files from Backup" - garnered over 23,000 visits and a swag of signups (over 100). Our follow-up post - "Show HN: Enter your URL and view CVEs affecting your stack over last 6 months" had a smaller number of visits but saw a much higher signup conversion.

West Coast USA aside, we still get traffic from elsewhere in the world and bumps in signups occur throughout our day. As the USA wraps up its day, other regions of the world are turning on their computers and devices. Asia is followed by Europe and when Europe heads to the local bar at the completion of their workday, the US is starting up again and the circle of life continues.

And our boat is getting bigger.

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