How I Went from Entry Level Sales to SVP Marketing at SurveyMonkey in 8 years

How I Went from Entry Level Sales to SVP Marketing at SurveyMonkey in 8 years

In her early and mid 20s, Ada achieved "hockey stick" growth within her own career, eventually leading growth and marketing as the SVP of Marketing at SurveyMonkey after starting out just 8 years earlier as a new college grad in an entry level sales job at Microsoft.

In this post, Ada shares a few frameworks that anyone can use to trigger a high growth inflection point in their career.

Why the Crypto Multiplier is the Next Secret Weapon in Growth

Why the Crypto Multiplier is the Next Secret Weapon in Growth

Nick Soman is a member of the Reforge Collective (our group of expert speakers who drop their wisdom as part of our Growth Series and Retention & Engagement Series programs) and most recently was growth lead at Gusto.

Nick's superpower is virality and referrals, and his essay is about how crypto can dramatically improve each key metric that contributes to a referral program's success.

The One Growth Metric that Moves Acquisition, Monetization, and Virality

The One Growth Metric that Moves Acquisition, Monetization, and Virality

In 2014, my team and I had been digging into retention for our new HubSpot Sales product. The more we unearthed, the more I realized how critical improving retention was to blowing out the product’s growth story. By May 2015, I was sharing our insights on retention with the wider startup community.

At the same time, high profile startups like Homejoy, Fab.com, and others, that had raised hundreds of millions of dollars and shot to the moon on rocketship acquisition metrics, were bursting into flames and crashing back to earth.

Since that time retention has become one of the hottest topics among growth professionals. It has emerged as the antidote to this boom and bust story line and the common denominator that separates the most valuable companies from the rest of the pack. It’s become the most valuable player in growth - and this is a great thing.

Yet, there’s still a problem - there is a lack of understanding why retention is the priority. Without understanding this, people end up working on the wrong things and missing the biggest opportunities.

Most people think retention is so crucial simply because it means you lose fewer users than you otherwise would. Though this is true, it misses the critical point.

Retention is the core of your growth model and influences every other input to your model. This is important because if you improve retention, you’ll also improve the rest of your funnel.

Improving retention spurs growth in 4 key ways:

  1. Retention drives acquisition
  2. Retention improves monetization
  3. Retention builds an acquisition competitive edge
  4. Retention accelerates payback period

Disney's 60 Year Old Growth Map Answers the Netflix Question

Disney's 60 Year Old Growth Map Answers the Netflix Question

This week, news broke that Disney is in talks to purchase 21st Century Fox. Consolidation of the two entertainment megapowers comes at a strategic time for Disney, who announced back in August that they'll be ending their content partnership with Netflix in 2019. 

In the context of these moves, in this post we look at Disney's answer to the Netflix question.

How to Grow By Stealing Market Share

How to Grow By Stealing Market Share

Competition is inevitable and turns every product, including yours, into a commodity.

In this post, Brianne Kimmel, growth leader at Zendesk and Reforge alum, walks us through the framework she developed for competitive marketing and how she used it to create a growth advantage for Zendesk.

How a Food & Restaurant Unicorn Nails Acquisition, Monetization, and Defensibility

How a Food & Restaurant Unicorn Nails Acquisition, Monetization, and Defensibility

Chinese restaurant ordering giant Meituan-Dianping recently raised $4B at a $30B valuation, making it the 5th most valuable unicorn in the world (and the 3rd most valuable in China).

In this 5-min read, we’ll look at how Meituan-Dianping overcomes growth and monetization challenges faced by peers in the US, including Yelp, Groupon, and others.

1. Reviews are a traffic acquisition engine, while deals monetize.
2. Dominate neighboring verticals, then use that distribution and infrastructure firepower to expand into more distant bets.

How Personalization Drives Retention and Monetization for Stitch Fix

How Personalization Drives Retention and Monetization for Stitch Fix

Subscription e-commerce is a crowded space, with multiple companies competing in the fashion and clothing vertical alone. But, to a customer, what differentiates a subscription clothing box like Stitch Fix (or its dozen competitors), from Amazon Fashion, from Nordstrom?

This post looks at how Stitch Fix has used personalization to drive retention and monetization, paving the path to its upcoming IPO.

How to Detect and Fight Back Against Ad Fatigue

How to Detect and Fight Back Against Ad Fatigue

Every way that a product or company grows has a ceiling. Some ceilings are lower and closer than others.

In this post, Reforge Alum Andrew Krebs Smith looks at audience saturation for paid acquisition — one of the fastest ways to grow, and also one of the fastest ways to hit that ceiling — and presents 8 ways to break through. 

How Cloudflare Laddered Up from Self-Serve to Enterprise SaaS

How Cloudflare Laddered Up from Self-Serve to Enterprise SaaS

Although Cloudflare claims that over 10% of all HTTP traffic passes through its servers, it’s a company that relatively few people have heard about and even fewer truly understand.

This week, we’ll look at how Cloudflare has grown from a self-serve, low-cost developer product into a pre-IPO business that's become an integral part of the Internet in just 7 years.

Where Are You on the Growth Marketer's Hierarchy of Skills?

Where Are You on the Growth Marketer's Hierarchy of Skills?

Hubspot's Scott Tousley shares the internal career progression framework he's used to build competitive skills and a career path on their growth marketing team.

When I joined HubSpot’s growth team in 2014, led by Brian Balfour, I felt wildly unqualified. I had one skill. I (sort of) understood content marketing. That was it.

That’s why, after many hours of deliberating this topic, and fine-tuning feedback from other intelligent growth marketers, I’m happy to share the internal career progression framework we use at HubSpot.

 

TaskRabbit’s pioneering marketplace model & missed growth opportunities

TaskRabbit’s pioneering marketplace model & missed growth opportunities

Last Thursday, furniture giant IKEA announced that it would be acquiring the pioneering on-demand labor marketplace TaskRabbit. While the purchase price was undisclosed, leaked reports indicated that TaskRabbit last raised in 2016 at a valuation of just $40M, a significant down round from its previous $120M raise.

Today, we’ll look at the growth dynamics behind the gig economy, and why some companies flourished while others like TaskRabbit struggled to maintain their foothold.

RealtyShares' Marketplace Efficiencies and Network Effects

RealtyShares' Marketplace Efficiencies and Network Effects

RealtyShares recently announced that it had closed a $28M Series C that the company plans to use to expand its crowdfunding platform to better cater to high net worth individuals and institutions looking to access new tiers of the real estate investment market.

Founded in 2013, RealtyShares connects accredited investors looking to put money into commercial or residential real estate, with real estate developers looking to raise capital. The company says it has 120,000 users on its platform, who have invested $500 million since the company's inception.

3 Key Growth Lessons

1. RealtyShares built supply side density through process-based innovations, which enabled growth and network effects within the marketplace as a whole.

2. By aggregating smaller investments in “18 hour cities,” the company is able to open up new supply that wouldn't otherwise have been profitable or efficient for investors. 

3. Moving upmarket to monetize

Zello's Explosive Growth by Design, and Freemium to Enterprise Ladder

Zello's Explosive Growth by Design, and Freemium to Enterprise Ladder

Two weeks ago, beating out Facebook and Snapchat, Zello became the most downloaded social app in America after becoming the de facto organizer app for the “Cajun Navy” in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

This isn’t the first time Zello has accomplished this feat, though. The app also topped the app stores in Egypt, Venezuela and Ukraine after being used as the main source of political organizing in each of those countries.

While many in America are hearing about Zello for the first time only now, the app has quietly accumulated over 100 million registered users and $10M a year in revenue, all while remaining completely bootstrapped with a staff of 20 people.
 

Dropbox’s Playbook for International Expansion, with ChenLi Wang

Dropbox’s Playbook for International Expansion, with ChenLi Wang

There have been two pillars to growth at Dropbox. The first, Dropbox’ freemium model based on word-of-mouth referrals, is something that most of us have experienced if we count ourselves among the company’s 500 million users. The second driver behind Dropbox’s growth to hit the 500 million user milestone is something that’s less visible many of its core users.

As of this year, 75% of Dropbox’s users are now outside of the U.S. In the past year and a half, Dropbox finalized key distribution partnerships with Softbank, Vodafone, Telmex and other partners that help carry it into new geo-linguistic markets (as well as onto different platforms). 

We recently spoke to ChenLi Wang, who oversaw international expansion as head of the company’s product and business operations teams, about frameworks for international growth, which countries and what timing, deciding on your first international outpost, some unexpected benefits of international, and its biggest risks.  

How an $800M Company Grows through Influencers and Content

How an $800M Company Grows through Influencers and Content

Ipsy is a vertically integrated beauty company, covering all ends of the consumer funnel from discovery through its media properties and creator relationships, to sampling with its monthly subscription beauty bag to commerce through its site and app. The company is valued upward of $800 million based on last year's series B and the growth the business has seen since then. 

Ipsy’s a fascinating case study because the company seeded its growth with influencers and content. When I spoke with Ipsy’s EVP of media and partnerships, Spencer McClung, at a 500 Startups event in Los Angeles, we dug into how Ipsy (which is part of the 500 Startups portfolio) has scaled its influencer-driven content marketing -- and kept it affordable and defensible -- in the hyper competitive space of makeup and beauty.

How to Leverage User Psychology to Trigger Growth and Adoption, with James Currier

How to Leverage User Psychology to Trigger Growth and Adoption, with James Currier

Marketplaces are important, and the success stories are well known: Etsy gives makers a global reach, Upwork connects Web developers in Vietnam with graphic designers in Romania, eBay has spawned legions of niche entrepreneurs in the 21 years since it was first founded as an auction site.

But James Currier, managing partner at NFX Guild and member of the Reforge Collective, says it’s their sister category “market networks” that will drive the next wave of innovation, and unicorns. 

Casey Winters on Pinterest's Retention Wins, and Why 90% of SEO Advice is Wrong

Casey Winters on Pinterest's Retention Wins, and Why 90% of SEO Advice is Wrong

Pinterest recently announced that they hit 150 million monthly active users sharing over 75 billion “ideas.” This represents a 50% increase in their top line metric, and was accompanied by growth in new demographics.

Casey Winters is the former growth product lead at Pinterest where he helped the service to crack international growth and surpass its 150 million MAU mark. Winters previously led growth at GrubHub where he helped that company grow from three cities to over 500.

We sat down with Winters to unpack the metrics that really matter at Pinterest (and any other business), the right way to run experiments and deal with failures and why 90% of everything that’s written about SEO out there is wrong.

Thrive Market's Multi Channel Content Machine: A Study of Content-Based Growth

Thrive Market's Multi Channel Content Machine: A Study of Content-Based Growth

This is a case study of Thrive Market, a subscription e-commerce business that specializes in delivering natural and organic foods, but at wholesale prices. They recently closed at $111 million dollar series B, and have just passed the $120 million dollar annual revenue mark.

As a student of content and growth, I’ve long admired Thrive Market for the way they’ve used content as a dominant growth channel to achieve unusual, and positive, results.

I recently spoke to Thrive Market’s founder and co-CEO Gunnar Lovelace at a fireside event for 500 Startups in LA about his company’s content-fueled growth, and what content frontiers they’re exploring next.

Mailchimp's Un-Silicon Valley Growth Strategy

Mailchimp's Un-Silicon Valley Growth Strategy

While the main headline in the New York Times Mailchimp story was how Mailchimp has never raised money, the most interesting line in the story IMO was that the company will do $400M in revenue with 550 employees this year. Thats $727K per employee. Read more here...