What's Driving Growth at Fastest Growing B2B Companies? Learnings from Last 6 Interviews

Episode 15 February 13, 2020 00:50:09
What's Driving Growth at Fastest Growing B2B Companies? Learnings from Last 6 Interviews
The Breakout Growth Podcast
What's Driving Growth at Fastest Growing B2B Companies? Learnings from Last 6 Interviews

Feb 13 2020 | 00:50:09


Show Notes

For this episode, I’m joined by Ethan Garr, SVP Growth at Robokiller, to discuss the key commonalities and differences for breakout growth B2B companies featured in the last six episodes of the podcast. Ethan has also been helping write in-depth growth studies on each of the companies I've interviewed so he is very familiar with them (Lola, TripActions, Templafy, Valuer, Miro and Hubs (formerly 3D Hubs). 

Some of the areas that we explored include:

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00 <inaudible> Speaker 1 00:03 <inaudible> Speaker 2 00:08 come to the breakout growth podcast where Sean Ellis interviews leaders from the world's fastest growing companies to get to the heart of what's really driving their growth. And now here's your host, Sean Ellis. Speaker 3 00:23 All right. In this episode, we're going to look at cross company learnings from my last six interviews with growth leaders at very fast growing B to B companies. I'm joined by Ethan Gar, who is the SVP of strategic growth at robo killer. And Ethan's been helping me write detailed gross studies on each of the companies that I interview. So he's really familiar with, with all of them, and has a lot of great insights to offer. We're going to look at what they're doing well to drive this incredible growth. We're also going to cover some areas where we think they could be doing even better. So let's get started. Speaker 3 01:04 All right. Welcome back to the breakout growth podcast, Ethan. Hey, thanks for having me back, Sean. Yeah, it's a, this is going to be really interesting. It's been, it's been a fun couple of, almost two months now that we've really been digging into these B2B companies. And, uh, I'm excited to go through the analysis with you and really, um, kind of see some of the actionable things we can learn from these companies and even some things that, that they could potentially even be doing better. So when we looked at these really fast growing companies, w did you have anything that really surprised you from the analysis? Speaker 4 01:37 Yeah, I did. I, you know, it, I agree, it's been really interesting and there were a lot of surprises. I think probably the biggest one for me was that these are really fast companies, so I expected them to really be on the cutting edge of growth and using a lot of the strategies of tax it so well. Um, especially on the B to C side. Um, but even, you know, companies like LaSeon that has a $36 billion valuation or Slack with a $13 billion valuation are really paving the way for what B2B can be. Um, but we didn't see some of these companies adopting their tactics. Um, and it was interesting. Speaker 3 02:10 Yeah, I mean it's definitely not something that, uh, every company is going to have this sort of bottoms up approach that a, that a slacker and LaSeon has. But I think that, um, I think there's definitely some things to learn from those companies. So kind of taking a little bit of a step back and saying, you know, is if this highly iterative kind of scientific method approach to test and learn to drive growth, maybe it doesn't look exactly the same in B to B. What are the things that look the same? So when I think through it, I, I covered three key areas. So one, I think shared mission is important in B to C. it's also important in B2B and we should definitely talk more about that as we go on in terms of why alignment is important, but, but ultimately when everyone is agreeing on this is why we're in business, this is how we work together to, uh, to what's really important to the business. Speaker 3 03:00 That's, that's something that I think applies equally in both B2B and B to C. and then having that growth mindset where you know that not everything you're doing is perfect. In fact, nothing you're doing is perfect. There's always a better way to do everything. And so that growth mindset should be something that B2B is as open to as B to C is. And then ultimately that growth mindset, the actionable side of that growth mindset is in doing testing and learning. And of course the testing and learning is where it gets different. And then finally data at the core of the business data is something that should really inform the business. Everyone should be working to understand what's going on and as you're testing and learning your trying to drive improvement based on that data. So just to reiterate those three things, shared mission, growth mindset and data at core of business, there's no reason why B2B companies should not embrace those three principles and then how how they actually apply those principles to drive improvement in their company is probably going to be a bit different. Speaker 4 03:59 Yeah, for sure. I think, um, I think that's quick business that you're trying to grow. And, you know, we were really looking at companies that are either on the cusp or working towards, um, really driving breakout growth. And I think every company has those shared things. So it's interesting to see how those translate from one, you know, sort of realm B to C into B2B and just across the spectrum of different types of companies. Speaker 3 04:21 Yeah. And I think it's pretty interesting that you brought up Slack and Atlassian as, as examples of B2B companies that have taken more of a B to C approach to growth. And, um, and I think, you know, both those companies have growth teams. They have, uh, they have a lot of experimentation that they're doing, but again, they've got really broad numbers. They that can feed that. I believe they have a North star metric in them that helps to align the team. So that's probably one of the biggest surprises that I saw in these companies was that I think the only one that had a North star metric, uh, as, as sort of a, a single metric that everyone rallied around to, to drive growth in the business was, um, Miro. And, um, not surprisingly, I'd, I'd already talked to them about a North star metric before. Speaker 4 05:07 Oh, that's right. She mentioned that. Um, was that something like you talked to her at one of your workshops or, Speaker 3 05:12 no, I mean that is something like, usually the first thing I do in a workshop is get everyone, you know, cross-functionally to align on why do we exist and, and what's the core value we deliver to customers and what should a metric that reflects progress on delivering that value B. But, um, in the case of Miro, I actually just run into them at the growth hackers conference over the last several years. And, uh, you know, it was something that I, one of the times we had a, a deep conversation around North star metric and why it's important. And it was really cool to see that they not only remembered that, um, so it was Yulia was, was at the conference, but she was also with her CEO. And so we had talked through that and they embraced it and they're, they're working with that now. So that was really cool. Yeah, I think Speaker 4 05:58 the North star metric concept is so important to growth. And you know, I, I'm, it's not something that seems like it wouldn't translate well to B to C or from B to C to B to B. um, you know, it's really a metric that I think, like you said, it's a value delivery metric. It shows you how you're delivering on your product Midmark that to that end user. Um, and I think it's really that connective tissue between product market fit and mission that's so important to growth. So I w that's, I'd say that's the place where I was most surprised that we didn't see it just universally, uh, adopted. And in some cases, you know, we saw, I think it was a three D hubs. Uh, they essentially looked at at an it said, Oh, well we use OK ours. And I think, okay, ours are great. Speaker 4 06:42 Uh, I think they're a really great way to align teams and people. But I think it's, uh, it's different from an a North star metric. I think a North star metric is this one bit of connective tissue that all across the organization you can use to make sure that everybody is aligned and, and has that shared mission. Um, and because it connects right to that end user, it lets everybody know that regardless of what your function is, your function is a is there to help drive that, that end result. So I thought that we would see it, you know, universally adopted and a lot of these companies, I mean, uh, I forget which company it was, but they said, uh, well you never really only have one North star metric. And I got a little bit of a laugh at that because I was like, I looked up in the sky and I've only seen one North star. So I think it really is that, you know, I think people confuse it with like the one metric that matters. I think the North star metric is an important metric for aligning teams. Speaker 3 07:37 <inaudible> yeah, exactly. That's not the only metric that matters. Every metric should be a function of moving that North star metric or every metric that's important. Should be a function of moving that. But I, I think, uh, again, when you were, uh, just referencing 3d hubs, I think one of the things that Ferdinand had said was we don't have a North star metric per se, but they, but they have a, um, a key metric or key target within each team. And that again, I, I think that's, that's one of the big challenges when you look at B to B versus B to C is that in B to B, you ha in just a traditional B2B organization, you have multiple teams that have kind of growth metrics that they're responsible for. And, and there's a dependency on other teams where a lot of times kind of the traditional B to C organization might really just have, you know, a marketing team that's, that's primarily about acquiring and converting customers. Speaker 3 08:37 And then your revenue is going to largely be a function of that. And you know, the, the more advanced kind of B to C teams now are going to bring product in there and maybe have a growth team that sits in the middle that's thinking about all of the growth levers and how they work together. But, um, but even in the traditional organizations that that alignment was not important maybe in B to C, but in B to B, I think so much of what gets these, these teams not working together as much as is, uh, that they, they have their own kind of growth metrics. They're dependent on other people. And it kind of creates animosity because it's a high stress environment and you know, it can lead to a lot of finger pointing. And so, um, you get these little subcultures and I, I've, in my time in, in B2B companies, that's, that's been, uh, some of the, some of the most frustrating times that I've had in work is just the, the, the lack of alignment between some of those groups. Speaker 3 09:32 And so I think a North star metric could really help, but it's not something that just one person comes up with. That's something that you really got to start with. What is our mission? What is the value we provide to customers? How do we come up with a metric that is really focused on driving more units of value? And when growth is based on value, on delivering value, it's much more likely to be sustainable growth then so that that would probably be one of the biggest recommendations for almost every company except for Miro who did it, who didn't have one. I mean, a lot of them, you know, some people said that revenue or MRR, I think templates I mentioned MRR, um, revenue came up a couple of times. But again, I think the challenge with revenue is that it's, uh, you know, particularly in a SAS business, if you don't have that ongoing engagement, that ongoing value delivery, you may have 50% of your customers are going to churn and you don't know it because you're looking at MRR. So monthly recurring revenue you're looking at. And, uh, if they're, if they're not actually getting value on an ongoing basis, there's a good chance you're going to lose people. Speaker 4 10:37 Yeah. To your point, it's essentially a trailing indicator of, of growth. And, uh, and also I think it's just hard for teams to align around it. Um, I mean I think teams should be aware of it. I'm not, again, I think it's not saying that it's that other metrics don't matter, but I think when you really tie it to the, the human value you're delivering to the end, to the end customer you're serving you really, that's where you really can, can drive growth out of it. I mean, look at a company like TripActions where they're seeing the, you know, TripActions for people who may not know is this travel management platform and they are just killing it. They have a $4 billion valuation. They've grown from I think 2000 to 3000 customers in the last 10 months and they increased their marketing team by five fold. Speaker 4 11:24 Um, but essentially their end user is the person they fell to. The buyer is actually not necessarily the person using the service. The travelers in your company are, you know, they haven't, they get this app and they're, and TripActions is trying to deliver this awesome experience for them. But whether that person has a good or bad experience may not directly, you may not directly feel that I'm the administrator side and it's the travel administrator who's really getting the cost benefit value of this, you know, cheaper travel, things like that. And I think when you look at that and you say, okay, you've got, you've got total two, almost totally different use cases, how are we going to align the teams so that both the people who are trying to help the administrators and the people who are making this app that's gonna help the traveler end up on the same page and our tr are rowing the boat in the same direction, which I think was a Megan Eisenberg's quote. Um, and I think it comes down to if you have a unifying metric that they can all rally around, you can connect those teams. You can make people feel like what they do is important relative to the growth of the company in a way that's actually really tangible and quantifiable. That's why I'm such a fan of the North star metric for really any company. Speaker 3 12:40 Yeah. It's kind of interesting when you, when you touch on that. And then I remember, uh, so it's interesting that Lola and trip actions are both in that corporate travel market. And one of the things that, uh, Mike Volpi from Lola had said was, uh, that, you know, if people aren't happy with the, with the solution of these end user travelers aren't happy with the solution, they're going to just go in and book their travel on Expedia or you know, one of the, one of the consumer, uh, booking sites and then try to expense it. And you know, they're going to go through all that pain and they're probably gonna not, not go within the, uh, requirements of sort of costs and travel time and whatever the, that sort of corporate policies may be. But if they experience isn't great on the, on the solution that's coming from the travel administrators, then people aren't going to use it. Speaker 3 13:28 And if people aren't using it, then the company is going to look for a different solution. So I think, yeah, value delivery is absolutely critical and um, and North star metrics, just a great way to get everyone aligned around value delivery. And then I th I do think the other area that probably surprised me was that these companies are not doing as much, um, experimentation as I would have thought. I again, I think Miros the exception. In fact, they don't even call themselves pure B2B. They call themselves B to C to B. So, um, you know, what, what holds back that experimentation a lot of times is just, um, there's, there's so much complexity in B2B that people start thinking about all the things they need to do. And, you know, there's just so much of the just check the box stuff and making sure that some of the other teams know you're doing all the stuff you're supposed to do, that, um, that people don't, don't get into that mode as much about how can we improve what we're doing and how can we stop doing the things that don't matter and how can we double down on the things that are working and make them work even better. Speaker 3 14:29 And, and so I remember I did, I did a little bit of a word search with some of the earlier interviews that we'd done with the B to C companies like, um, like a freshly and, and, uh, Rezi and just have a few of those and, and acorns. And it was interesting the number of times the word experiment or test came up in, in earlier B to C companies where you just didn't see that language used as much in these companies. And I, I do think one thing that's really important is we're talking about these are some of the fastest growing B2B companies out there. So, um, as, as much as we're, we're talking about a couple of things that they're not doing, they're, they are doing a lot of things really well or they wouldn't be growing as fast as they are. Speaker 4 15:13 Oh yeah. I mean, like I said, you know, when you talk about TripActions, you know, with a $4 billion valuation in four years, um, you know, and, and the way they've grown, uh, Lola has $80 million in funding, you know, typify went from 40 to 180 employees in like a year. I mean, these companies are, yeah, it's not to say these companies aren't doing a lot of great things. Um, but getting back to your point about, um, about testing, I think one of the things that seems to sort of drive how these companies implement the growth, these growth processes that we believe really are, are such key drivers to break out growth. Um, with these B to B companies, it really seems like where they're pricing their products and service are, has a pretty dramatic impact on how they w you know, how, how they're using these services. Speaker 4 16:02 I mean, or the these concepts template template by for example, you know, they're really selling into enterprise and if you go to their, their website, you can't even find their pricing. In fact, if you put in that you have only like 35 to a hundred employees, they'll discourage you from wasting your time because you just can't afford it basically is what they're saying. Um, and because of that, they're, they ha, you know, they're really sales driven organization. They have long sales cycles. I think they said it's taken up to two years to close the sale. I think three to four months is more more typical. But think about that in the context of testing and experimentation. If it takes you four to six months to close a close a sale, you can't really measure lead generation against the final value you have. And they were talking about this in the, in your podcast interview. Speaker 4 16:51 They have to do a look back after the fact. Um, and I think, you know, what they were saying is look, high tempo testing and, and these rapid iterations, it's possible, but it's hard and it's different. Um, and then you look at a company like Miro Miro has a freemium model. They, you know, the lowest plan I think is $8. And then they have a business plan for $16 per user per month. And then enterprise, which they don't list. But if you think about it from that perspective, it's a much lower price point. And especially with freemium, they can get a lot of people into their funnel quickly. Um, and they can do this rapid experimentation. They're getting more data. I imagine a company like template Phi just doesn't get the data quick enough to really do some of the rapid fire experimentation that I think is so important. Speaker 4 17:36 But to their credit, they do have this mindset. They're really trying to borrow what they can from, from the world of B to C and, and, uh, you know, these high, you know, this growth mindset. And I was, I liked one the things, um, that they told us was that, um, they have this team that they've created a, it's like an ad hoc team, I think they call it the crazy five. It's these five guys there. And essentially when they see a pain point in the company, regardless of what, whether it's cuss in customer success or customer support and sales, um, these guys jump in and they try to figure out a way to test and iterate around that. And I think that's a Testament to a really innovative culture. And you know, it's no surprise then that they're one of the really fast growing companies in Europe. Speaker 4 18:19 Um, I think, uh, I think it might've been, there's a fast growing company in Denmark and one of the fastest in Europe and it's from that perspective, it's no surprise because they really are trying to use these innovative forward thinking techniques to grow quickly. But again, I think it just comes back to that, uh, where you are on the pricing spectrum probably does influence some of this stuff, but I don't think it's ever impossible. And I think, um, companies have almost been scared to do it. It's, uh, you know, I, I'm interested where, what you think is the thing that's stopping them from doing it. Speaker 3 18:50 Yeah. I mean, I think part of it is just they understand the complexities that are in B2B and they just feel like the B to C world is, is almost so much simpler that, uh, it, it just probably hasn't dawned on a lot of people to look at that world and, and think are there some concepts or some approaches going on there that we can actually borrow even if we can't borrow all of them. And hopefully, hopefully, I mean, part of this, this podcast is, is uh, our, our goal in this episode is to extract what we think are some of those things that they should be looking at. And North star metric is definitely one of them. And just having that, having that experimental mindset, even if it's, you're not running a, uh, a data-driven AB test, but having that experimental mindset of how do we continually drive improvement across all customer touch points. Speaker 3 19:40 But I do want to step back and, and, and start to, you know, you just hit on some of the things that temple is actually doing pretty well. And I want to start to look at some of the things that these companies are doing well because these are some of the fastest growing companies out there in the B2B world. So I think a lot of the listeners could really benefit from seeing some of the things that they're doing well. And then, and then in addition, knowing that there's probably a couple of things that they can tap into that, that they may not be doing. So what, what would you say is probably the most important key driver for, for all of these businesses? Speaker 4 20:12 I think it's very clear that all of them had an incredible product market fit and they understand that fit and they really work to, um, drive growth. Um, along that, uh, along those lines, I think product market fit is, it's hard to put an actionable context context. It's like you, you know, do you have it or do you not? But I do think that, you know, companies, it goes back to, you know, you, you, you've, uh, spouses for years before you can grow. You have to really nail product market fit. And these companies really have done that. Speaker 3 20:45 Absolutely. And I, and I touched on earlier that you know, the fact that two of them are in the corporate travel space just shows that's a, what was the size of that? Like the, the actual market size Speaker 4 20:55 one and a half trillion dollar. Speaker 3 20:57 But I mean, that's like who talks about markets and trillions. So yeah, one and a half trillion dollars as a, that's crazy. Speaker 4 21:05 But except that three D hubs to talk about the manufacturing market as 15. These are numbers that are hard to, hard to fathom, but I do think that, um, that you're right, like, um, it, I think it's not a coincidence that you've got two businesses in the same sphere, uh, really driving disruption and you know, they both sort of have the same, um, thought process that, look, if we want to disrupt the smart, the smart, this market, we have to create an incredible travel experience. You know, that you think, Hey, we're selling to the, we're selling to this person. You know, who's an administrator or the CFO, and we've got to just show them. It's, you know, you're going to save money. You know, we've got $40 billion in buying power and it's going to save you money. Corporate travel is, it's one of the big expenses companies have, but it's also one of the most controllable. Speaker 4 21:56 Like all of that's true. But these guys said, wait a second. The incumbents who are in this market, the guys who have been in it for 25 30 years, you know, they're using old techniques and tactics. They're using old models to basically service their clients. They're not thinking about the fact that we have this mobile first world that we live in where everybody's got a phone in their pocket and people are traveling using these devices. And if we give those people an incredible experience, that's actually going to actually pay dividends for the administrator, the traveler, and for the whole company. And I just thought it was like, it was really interesting to see that connection. Speaker 3 22:32 In fact, I think that's one of the, one of the other kind of key themes that I saw come up again and again in, in the really successful companies is that they're, they're obsessing on value delivery. Not, not just for the buyer persona, but for really all of the stakeholders in, in the companies that they're, um, that they're working with. So I want to get back to that, but one other thing on product market fit that's, that's important is that I, I actually think in B to B, that product market fit can be sometimes a little, a little harder to, um, you, you can have a lack of product market fit and you can still grow. And I wouldn't be surprised if if, uh, you know, maybe one of the companies here is, is not, not growing based on having necessarily really strong product market fit. Speaker 3 23:19 But instead, if you have really good salespeople and you're selling against a problem and a need that's got a lot of funding behind it, then you may not need a great solution. For years, there's been businesses that the vapor where businesses that are shelfware that kind of in the B2B space have just kinda been powered by really good salespeople that are selling a vision and so I do think you can have growth that is, you know, in the long run they're not going to be sustainable if that's the case. So every one of these companies I do think has has a mission and a goal to create a solution that really, really solves the problem. But I think that's one of the other benefits that you get with a North star metric is that the North star metric is going to ideally be measuring engagement. Once somebody wants somebody who's actually using the product, are they using it a lot? Is it really delivering on the promise and optimizing growth of the engagement and value delivered is going to really help to drive that sustainable growth. So I just want, that was one other thing I wanted to point out on the product markets. That side that just because you have a lot of growth doesn't mean you have product market fit. Speaker 4 24:25 Yeah. I think sustainability is something you and I both like that's what we want. You know, we want to find the companies that are driving breakout growth that's sustainable. And certainly, yeah, if, if you're selling vapor, you might actually get away with it a little bit on the B2B side because, um, especially the, if you're selling to, you know, at a higher price point and to into enterprise, like some of these things people don't see, they don't, they can't touch the value. They don't get the aha moment until much later down the road. But that would not, you know, that just doesn't work in, in the B to C world because you know, the time to value is, you know, 10 seconds, you know, someone reads a content piece, they tap in, it's like, Hey, here's the product. Go try it. Like, yeah, like you, if for free and like that's just a different, it's a different mindset. So I think it's important that, that, um, that company's really focused on real value and solutions that will deliver that longterm value. Right. Speaker 3 25:16 In fact, I, I actually do think that that's, that's one of the areas where we're tapping into the B to C growth approach. Actually, even the biggest enterprise enterprise targeted solutions that are out there, whether it's, it might be trip actions and, and a template by might be kind of targeting the, the biggest enterprises out there and maybe maybe on the initial transaction on, you know, selling to the buyer. The overall decision to buy is a very low velocity. But once they get inside these businesses, they have a ton of almost consumer touch points once they get through the door that they can optimize. And so I think temple by for example, really working to figure out not just how to drive quick distribution. So that's one of the big advantages I think. So it's a, just a quick intro on what temple Phi does. They're, they're really a solution that helps teams, uh, companies like broad companies be able to stay consistent on branding and be compliant on any of the messaging. Speaker 3 26:20 And so they, they roll out. And so all of your emails and your PowerPoint decks are all going to be kind of compliant and uh, and consistent with brand and that's all automatic, but then they take it a step further, so, so they can sort of have instant deployment once somebody buys. But they take a step further where they really do look at are, am I helping that end user create great looking faster than they otherwise would have been able to and with say, legal images for example. So I do think that there's even the ones that are targeting the biggest enterprises have probably some more things they can tap into on the BDC side. So, um, another thing that I thought was interesting that that kind of came up again and again was this idea of just very clearly identified target customers on a lot of these businesses. Um, did anything jump out particularly in your mind on that one? Speaker 4 27:14 Yeah, like Miro, you know, they really pointed to visual thinkers as a, you know, uh, and just for, for anyone who's not familiar with Miro, um, they are essentially an online white boarding system, which is really cool. So if you're, you have distributed teams across around the world, you know, you can have these whiteboard sessions, um, using this tool. And I thought like they really tapped into this idea that visual thinkers are the right people to use this kind of tool. And it's not saying that they're not going after everything here. Um, but they really, they really looked at the visual thinkers as like, Hey, let's target that. Speaker 3 27:47 Yeah, those are the people that need the whiteboards. Like if you're, if you're more of a kind of a numbers thinker then maybe, you know, collaborative spreadsheets are fine but, but if you want to be able to whiteboard and sketch things out, then Miro is a great solution. I think just on the subject of Miro where they fit in on the product market fit side that that was pretty interesting is they, they are kind of tapping into the trend of all of these distributed teams. So you've got whole companies like the uh, team at automatic, I think they got a thousand employees and they're all distributed and you're, you're seeing more and more companies with these distributed teams. And so being able to collaborate on a whiteboard like they would do in an office, but, but doing it remotely is a huge advantage for them. And so I think that's, it's not just a great solution that people keep using, but the need for it is growing. And that's, that's another indication of strong product market fit. Speaker 4 28:38 Yeah. It was actually interesting there too is uh, just kind of a side note is they're making it possible for teams to do that kind of collaboration more effectively. They're probably also making it so companies will be more open to a distributed teams because they're making it so it's less, you know, the, the negative sides of those are reduced. So I thought it was interesting that not only are they helping that market, they're probably also driving that market. Speaker 3 29:03 Absolutely. And then, I mean, I think one of the biggest drivers for them in particular was just the fact that they fav got their pricing to the point where they could really support viral growth. And so having that freemium model and then really optimizing those viral loops in the business has been, has been critical for them to really push out. And, uh, I don't remember exactly what their numbers were, but it's, I think it's millions of users on there and, and you know, tens of thousands of paying users. Speaker 4 29:31 Yeah. I think over 2 million users and I wasn't paying users. So they've really, uh, they've really driven that growth, um, incredibly well. Um, and I've actually used the product and, and it is really phenomenal. It's, it does the job so nicely and you can see how they're really, you know, connecting the dots for people. Speaker 3 29:47 Well, so, yeah. And again, I touched on that the fact that they're doing kind of that, that viral loop optimization. Um, I, and I did mention that most of the others really aren't, aren't necessarily doing a ton of testing. I do think most of them had had that growth mindset, especially the template by guys that, that you could just, you know, I interviewed the, the head of, uh, growth or the head of, I can't remember it, head of marketing or head of growth, but it had like a product lead and a growth lead. And, um, they, you could just see the enthusiasm they had for figuring out better and better ways to accelerate growth in that business. And so I think, I think that growth mindset was actually pretty apparent in most of these companies. Maybe, maybe one of the conversations with, with one company, I made a couple of suggestions and you could, you could tell, uh, there was a little, uh, defensiveness, which, which can be sometimes more of a fixed mindset. Um, but, uh, but you know, I mean, people, people are expecting, their CEOs are going to listen to that and they don't want, they don't want to maybe be exposed. But, um, I think people with that, with that growth mindset are much more likely to just constantly be looking for, how can I do my job better? How can I, how can I find ways to accelerate growth? And I would say almost every conversation I had was, was with somebody who had you saw signs of a growth mindset all the time. Speaker 4 31:01 By the way, just on the, on the Miro example, uh, you know, where you're talking about their freemium model, really driving these viral loops. Um, I think the speaks to the growth mindset. They actually started with a free trial concept and it was interesting, I don't know if you remember, but um, she was explaining, Yulia was explaining that the PR, they, they actually, through testing and optimization, they started to realize that using the number of shared boards and collaborative collaborators as a limiting factor with the free trial was actually a sort of having, driving negative viral adoption. People were actually erasing boards that they had created because to fit within a free trial, um, and this way, um, you know, they moved to freemium and it changed the, the whole, the whole game for them. Speaker 3 31:47 Yeah. And I mean, I think that's another thing that you see in, in B to C much more than you normally would see in B to B, which is not just an obsession on how do I get people to buy this, but really, really focusing on how are they really using it after they buy it and be, I mean a part of that us because SAS, even in the B to B space, SAS has made it so that you can track a lot more easily how people engage with the product. But I do think once you have that understanding and um, and, and I thought I just, we come back to mural a lot, but I think one of the things that's great is that Yulia has such a great data background. She started as a data analyst before she became head of growth. And so, you know, you could see that she had this desire to not just understand quantitatively what was going on, but qualitatively why were doing the things that they were doing. And with that understanding, you're in a lot better position to drive improvement. Speaker 4 32:44 That's so neat. How all these things are connected because you're right, she was using data to really understand how that value delivery was happening. And I was just listening to an audio book and I was listening to a story about YouTubes growth and how, you know, they really changed their whole model from, you know, what they were measuring in the beginning, um, to like the time people were watching as opposed to the number of views. And it was like very different from the whole world of Google and um, and it really, you know, it's, I think that's what this all comes down to is you know, um, the people, the teams, the, the leaders of the teams really thinking about value delivery and not thinking about quantifying value to exactly. Yeah. Quantifying value delivery. Cause I think, and again, you know, I don't want to harp too much on the North star metric, but when you connect things around the North star metric, um, and you think about that as a, a metric of, of user value, um, I think it really does help everybody feel like they are connected to the mission. And so just so important to, to grow. Speaker 3 33:44 Yeah. And it was interesting as you just mentioned, the um, the, the YouTube example, uh, medium, you know what their North star metric is. Speaker 4 33:52 Is it like the how, how far down the page you read? Speaker 3 33:57 No, it's, it's total total minutes of read time or total hours of read time or whatever. Like quantified read time. Because if you think about most companies or how many people viewed the article, but they're actually, they're actually looking at does the article provide value? And then how do they act on that information? They actually report it back to the blogger and let them know what is the average time someone spent reading this article versus that article. So they actually help people over time get smarter about how do I not just write headlines that get attention, but content that maintains that attention. And so as a platform, they start delivering more value. So that's, you can start to see them and it's not really a B2B example, but you can start to see the power of really focusing on the value you deliver. And, and again, just to reiterate, like sustainable growth is based on value delivered. Speaker 3 34:48 You cannot sustainably grow if you're not sustainably increasing your ability to deliver value to more and more people. And um, and so the right metric, you know, what gets measured gets managed if you're measuring value, you're gonna manage value and it's pretty powerful concept there. So apologies for everyone listening that we keep harping on North star metric, but it's, but it is really critical. One of the other things on, on the data side that, that kinda jumped out at me that I thought it was pretty interesting. Um, Ferdinand from three D hubs. I thought he was really sharp. He, he, he covered, um, I think he had a really good understanding of growth. Not only was he at 3d Huggies, but, um, recruiting, I can't remember exactly what the company was that he was there before. Yeah. Recruiting one of the fastest growing B2B companies in, in Europe. Speaker 3 35:37 Uh, and then, and then he moved to another fast growing company. So he's, he's led growth at a, at a couple of pretty good breakout growth companies. And he actually emphasized when I asked, you know, at the end of every podcast interview I asked you, what's the thing that the one thing that you feel like you've learned in the last couple of years that maybe you didn't know before that and he emphasized that, um, you know, data's important, but data perfection is not always important that your, your desire for data perfection can lead to paralysis and paralysis leads to a lack of decision and a lack of progress. So, um, I, you know, you could tell he was really focused on how do I segment these users? How do I understand which users have a use case where they come back frequently and which users have a one off use case? And let me not look at just retention overall, but retention by use case. So he clearly has a deep desire to understand what's going on, but he also, he also realizes that some things are going to be a little bit murky and that's okay too. Speaker 4 36:34 Yeah. I actually wrote down one of the quotes he had, cause I thought it was really poignant and it, it's, it was around this idea that like don't let the data paralyze you. He said making a bad decision or a mediocre decision is usually better than making no decision if you're in a fast paced environment. Decision making is crucial. Perfectionism in many cases is death and you don't need to choose between speed and quality. You have the luxury of that choice. I thought that was pretty, pretty cool. Speaker 3 36:57 Yeah. And then, and that, that reminds me a lot of Meyer Gupta. Yeah. You know, in the earlier B2C interviews with, with freshly, he really talked about, you know, when you start growing fast it gets messy. You're gonna, you're going to have to make some, some decisions in a messy environment, but it's your, you know, he, he basically said he thought the biggest moat for any company is, is the, the speed with which you can make decisions and make improvements and, and so yeah, you, you're, there is a bit of that tradeoff. If you, if you slow down for perfect data, you're not going to be driving great results because data doesn't lead to results by itself. It's, it's what you do with that data and the decisions you make. And hopefully you're getting smarter and smarter about understanding what's going on, but you're not, you're not waiting for a perfect understanding to keep trying to drive improved. Speaker 4 37:45 Yeah. You've mentioned a Meyer mayor Gupta and freshly a couple of times and I think like for anyone who's thinking, trying to really like put these things together, how does B to C and B to B relate and how does, how does just growth work at these fast growing organizations? I think like either reading our growth study or listening to that podcast in the context of maybe like TripActions or mirror 3d hubs, any of these, I think it'll give you sort of a really nice balance of these things. So, um, I think, uh, Speaker 3 38:14 will appreciate cousin and, and to reiterate, um, something that I, that I mentioned in the introduction is the Ethan, Ethan has worked with me on, on every one of the growth studies that I've done. So it's, it's something that, uh, I may be doing these interviews, but Ethan's doing the, the deep analysis to make sure that we can put these quality gross studies. So, um, he's, that's why he's the perfect person to do these Roundup episodes with me because he's got often a deeper understanding of what's going on. Cause if this additional research on the, on the gross studies, it's been a great way for me personally to just learn how different companies are driving growth. And I think when you are in a position where you may be tasked with moving, grow the growth levers, um, learning how other companies are doing, nothing is, you know, prescriptive, but there's a lot of inspiration out there. Speaker 3 39:02 Yeah. And I, and I think particularly, I mean again, this is part of the theme of this one is B2B should be looking at B to C to understand ways to accelerate growth. But I think it's the same thing if you're in B to C, what are the things that B2B companies are doing better? And I often find some of the best inspiration for growing a business by looking not at my direct competitors and what they're doing, but what are the fastest growing companies in other sectors doing and how can I get inspiration? And a lot of times it can just be one thing, but that one thing can make a huge difference. So, so looking outside of just the directly related companies that you're, you're working on <inaudible> can be really helpful. So the last thing that I, I did see, you know, we, we've kind of beaten up on these companies a little bit for not having a North star metric. Speaker 3 39:48 And again, I think, I think the main reason is that the North star metric has, has up to this point being really a B to C concept quite, you know, mostly. And so I think a lot of them just aren't looking at B to C for some some inspiration things they can do better. But almost all of them really did, uh, emphasize that alignment is really important to them. And so I thought Lola in particular, one of the things that, um, I probably got the most excited about of these interviews was when Mike Volpi mentioned that they have, instead of doing weekly check in meetings, which he basically said like the cross functional weekly check in meetings or just like, you know, impress your other functional heads with checking off the boxes of the things we're doing, which I kind of talked, B2B is often so much about what you're doing and that instead of doing that once a month, they take a full day to look at the, at the key objectives in the business around growth and how can they cross functionally collaborate on improving their ability to accelerate into those objectives. Speaker 3 40:52 And so when you take a full day, you really, you really dig into it. I mean, I've seen the power of that when I'm doing workshops and take a team out from their day to day activities to, to kinda cross-functionally work to drive growth. But the fact that they do that every month, uh, is, is amazing. And then similarly, I don't know if you, if you caught this, but, uh, Miro had talked about that they, they do something similar. Why don't you say, yeah, why don't you talk about what they do? Yup. Quarterly. Exactly. Yeah. Quarterly. They have a full week meeting, um, because, and I, the, I guess they have a lot of distributed teams and they get them all together, um, for, for a week. And, um, they go over things like strategy and growth and um, you know, and they, Speaker 4 41:34 they really put the focus on, on driving that cross team collaboration. And, um, she said, uh, you know, uh, talking about cross team collaboration or cross functional collaboration, um, her quote was play as a team to win the world. Um, and, uh, over-communication is enough communication. I thought both of those things were sort of, Speaker 3 41:54 yeah, that was very cool. But, but again, you've touched on, um, uh, Megan from, from TripActions talking about, you know, everybody in the boat rowing in the same direction. So powerful and, and you know, and, and a lot of these companies emphasize culture and great teams. And so I think the desire for alignment is, is there, the need for alignment is probably even more important in B2B because you've got, you know, often additional functions like customer success and sales and you've got all these different, uh, touch points across the customer. And if you're not working really closely to manage improvement of those touch points, you're, you're probably gonna leave a lot of growth on the table. Um, but that's why it was really so surprising to, to not see these companies with, with, uh, using North star metrics. And again, except for Miro and, uh, they cheated. Cause we talked about that a few years ago, Speaker 4 42:47 but you know, what's on, I mean, you've said this to me before too, like, like, it's sort of like, you know, culture not being ping pong tables. And, and beer kegs. Um, communication. I mean I think these companies are really trying to embrace cross functional collaboration. They're not, they're trying to get beyond just talking about it. And you've said to me like if CRA, if cross functional collaboration means if, if doing that is talk to each other more like that's not really actionable. That doesn't mean anything. Um, well Speaker 3 43:18 yeah, especially if you, if you don't find something to align on that talking more is just going to be trying to convince the other team that you know how to do their job and they're going to try to convince you, you know how to do, they know how to do your job and you're just coming at it from different directions. And that's why when I'm doing a workshop, I always, I always start with, you know, what is the purpose of this business? What is the value of this business? Back to the one thing everybody should be able to agree on. Why are we here, what are we trying to do? And then, and then cascading up from there. What are our roles in doing that? How can we have a shared metric that we can all rally around? Like everything else is kind of feeds off of that. But until you can find that common purpose, it's really hard to have effective communication anyway. Speaker 4 44:02 Yeah. And you keep, you know, all of these companies, um, I think really don't they really passionately want to avoid silos that prevent good team collaboration cause they do understand that it's important. Um, but as you pointed out earlier, I think B2B companies are much, it's much easier for them to fall in the traps or the trap of silos because of those things. You know, you have, you know, this team is creating, you know, is doing demand generation or lead generation and this team is, is closing sales. If there's a hard stop between those two, um, you know, and my job ends when I get you the lead and your job ends when you got me the lead. You just don't get the learning back and forth. I mean, imagine how much more powerful it is if your sales team can communicate back to your lead generation team and say, Hey, this is what we're learning from the, from the, the customers we're talking to that we think can go back into this process or, you know, the people are getting here and they're really educated on this area of the business and what we do, but they don't have any understanding here. Speaker 4 45:02 And then your marketing team, you know, the content team says, Oh, what if we can jump some content around that. And like you said, it all feeds off of each other. And I think B to C has really gotten that right. Um, and we've really seen it grow as, you know, it's a, it's a smaller pond, I guess in a certain way. Um, but I think if, uh, if B2B calf catches onto that, uh, in a big way, it will also change the landscape quite a bit. Speaker 3 45:25 Yup. Yup. For sure. Well, I am, I'm super excited that we had a chance to, to dig into these, into these things together and hopefully it's useful for people who are in B to B companies or even outside, uh, you know, there's a lot of, there's a lot of B to C marketers that are probably intimidated to take the leap into B2B. I'm telling you that some of the things you know could be really valuable in, in the B2B world. Um, yeah, coming back, if you every recall, the one thing that we said, all of these companies that are going to be able to drive sustainable growth have in common is product market fit. So I think for anyone who's in a, in a growth role who doesn't have product market fit, if you're probably doing yourself a disservice if you're, if you're trying to grow in that role, you're better off. Speaker 3 46:08 Um, you know, stepping out and, and finding a company where you can validate that the people, not only is the company good at selling the product, but after people buy the product, they absolutely love it. I mean, that was one of the things that came up in the Miro interview as well. I asked her when they raised money from Excel, $25 million that Excel led the round many years after they started the business. And I said to her, when did you know you were onto something? And she said right from the beginning, because I kept getting feedback from people that they love the product and so it's not, I think you can get so caught up in we are good at selling this product, but if it's not great at delivering on the promise and not great at having people feel like they're getting a ton of value, again that growth will not be sustainable. Speaker 3 46:55 That's not product market fit. So for anyone, like where is product market fit actionable, it's actionable in the sense that if you're a founder and you're trying to grow a business that doesn't have really good validation around product market fit, you'll probably driving your business into the ground. So figuring out how to dial that product market fit in first. And if you're a head of marketing and head of growth, head of sales, whatever role you are in a company, if you're not confident, the product markets fit there, do some testing around it. I actually have a survey that I put out, it's a free survey called PMF survey.com, which has some questions really Speaker 4 47:30 outline, uh, how, how can you gauge product market fit and some, uh, some other directions in there that gives you that feedback that says, can we, can we sustainably grow this business? So any, any parting thoughts? Ethan, anything else come to mind? Um, you know, I, well just one, one on one point on that one. Um, also, uh, for Ned from three D hubs, he also, you asked him why he joined, uh, and he was like, because I could, he basically was like, cause I know this is going to be unicorn. He was just like, this isn't, you know, he could feel that product market fit. And I thought, you know, just like narrow. Uh, it's, it's very inspiring when you see people joining companies because they so believe in the mission and it's so obvious to them that they can, they can be part of driving that success. Speaker 4 48:11 I think, um, again, like these companies that you interviewed I think are doing some incredible things. I mean TripActions it's, you know, we could pick apart little things that we think that they might do better to, to increase their growth curve, but their growth curve is pretty amazing. And, um, all of many of these companies really, you know, you listen to them and you're inspired by it. And I think, you know, we're trying to think about this from the perspective. What are these drivers of breakout growth? And you really, you know, you talked about about them from the beginning here, but you know, whether it's mission and product market fit, whether it's obsessing about building cross, uh, cross-functionally collaborative teams, um, there are, there are commonalities between these companies that are driving growth. It's not by accident. And I think that's really, that should feel good to people who are listening, who are, you know, they're working in the industries or places where they want to drive breakout growth. Speaker 4 49:05 That there are things that you can take out of this that are, it's not just unlocked, that's for sure. Absolutely. Well, you and I could probably talk on this for forever. So we are working on a, on a, uh, kind of a, a study like a, a published study that we'll be putting out. So keep an eye on my Twitter feed for that and uh, I, it's, it's something that kind of helps to probably crystallize a lot of the thoughts that we're talking about here. Um, should, should be out in the next week or two. And um, for everyone listening, really thanks for tuning in and Ethan, thanks for, for being on this journey with me. It's been a lot of fun. Yeah, I'm having a blast doing it and um, uh, I really appreciate the opportunity. Hi everyone. Speaker 1 49:47 <inaudible> Speaker 2 49:52 thanks for listening to the breakout growth podcast. Please take a moment to leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform, and while you're at it, subscribe. So you never miss a show until next week.

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