On Monday evening, Boston innovators gathered at PayPal Media Network’s offices in Downtown Boston, hopeful to hear growth hacks from a few folks who had successfully navigated scale before.
The meetup in question was Growth Lessons from Silicon Valley to Boston and featured three speakers representing both Bays: Adam Nash, CEO of Californian online financial management company Wealthfront and former executive at LinkedIn, eBay, Apple and Greylock Ventures; Zorian Rotenberg, VP of sales and marketing for Boston B2B firm InsightSquared; and Jeff Steeves, former VP of marketing at local e-commerce giant Wayfair.com.
Though the event was sponsored by West Coast-based startup Wealthfront, Nash is no stranger to the Boston area. Playfully dubbed “The World’s Most Interesting Man” by NextView Ventures‘ Rob Go, Nash got his start in Cambridge while attending Harvard Business School (Fun fact: he and PayPal Media Network’s David Chang were classmates), and hasn’t been shy poking fun at his old snowy stomping grounds over social media:
Cambridge, MA: I seem to have arrived during a local annual ritual: they chill the air & place snow on the ground. They call it “Winter.”
— Adam Nash (@adamnash) February 23, 2014
We rounded up a few of the many lessons learned from Nash, Rotenberg and Steeves last night, and are prepared to share with you:
‘Growth is not hard. It’s a really amazing fact.’
“… but there’s a catch. Creating the environment for growth – the culture for growth – is really f*cking hard,” shared Steeves. Constructing the right team and inspiring the right company culture is key to enabling growth. Fortunately, growth can be boiled down into a three-part recipe, according to soon-to-IPO Wayfair’s former head marketer. And here it is: Using analytics and data to drive decisions, make sure your team is full of “excellent collaborators” and keep the “desire and thirst for risk” alive in the company.
‘Don’t be a vitamin. Be a Tylenol for the headache.’
Basically, explained Rotenberg, “Your product should be a must-have, need-to-have.” This essential nature of a product or service is a common denominator for successful companies. “You need to have a sales pitch that makes it necessary … it makes things a lot easier to sell when you are selling a real pain point,” added the B2B sales expert.”Go after Goliath,” Rotenberg added, urging the crowd to pick companies in their industry that had already paved the way and created the need in the market, “then go after them.”
‘What’s the experience like for non-users?’
Rather than keep a unflinching focus on user experience, shift attention toward those that have yet to adopt your product or service, explained Nash. “Go home and think about what your experience is like for people who aren’t already users of your product,” challenged the Californian chief executive. “Create an on-boarding process, a new user experience … bring them in the door and not only make them happy customers, but repeat customers.”
‘Cycle time is more important than branching factor.’
“If you get a new customer today, what’s the likelihood that the new customer will bring a friend on to the platform this week?” asked Nash before pointing out the question’s two parts. “Branching factor” refers to the number of people a user will successfully induct onto the platform or introduce to the product. “Cycle time” refers to how long it takes for a user to bring on those new people after engaging with the platform or product. Nash noted that, despite popular belief, the latter factor carries more weight. “How long a customer takes to bring in friends, incrementally, is more important than how many they bring in.”