Consumer Growth

with Jim Scheinman

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100% focus

Jim Scheinman

Founder, CEO, Managing Partner & Resident Growth Hacker

Lessons Learned

The lifeblood of a consumer company is growth; watch out for strategies that work against it.

It’s hard to focus on conversion & growth at the same time–put 100% of your focus on growth.

If you want to become an expert growth hacker, build something and start practicing.


Lesson: Consumer Growth with Jim Scheinman

Step #2 Consumer: 100% focus

The reason why I focus on growth is, I'm really focused on consumer companies and consumer startups. For any consumer startup the life blood of that business, especially from very early on, is consumer growth. Without hundreds of thousands or millions or now tens of millions of customers, you really don't have a business. And I noticed that most investors and advisers are not really focused on that, and many of the companies, I think, are focused on the wrong thing from the very beginning. It might be that they're focused on distribution strategies that don't lead to growth, or revenue strategies that don't lead to growth. In fact, sometimes those strategies can actually be counter to consumer growth.

Often I'm working with companies that have three or four people, maybe fewer maybe a few more. And so you have a realistic expectations of resources. How much can you really do with one or two or three engineers? And often you have to make a decision, "Do you decide to focus on building features that will lead to a better conversion of, say, free customers to your product that can convert into pay customers, or do you focus on features that can be potentially bring in more free customers or more customers that maybe one day down the road you can monetize or convert to paying customers."

Generally speaking, it's very challenging to do both of this very well from the beginning. So what I try to instill in my startups that I work with is if you're a consumer company that's trying to build a brand and you have a potential for hyper growth, which is going from zero to millions of customers in weeks, months, or within a year. Then I would try to focus on what features and what kind of product you can build that can lead to organic growth or viral marketing at 100% as opposed to what features can maybe make a few more of those people pay a couple bucks.

So, again, I'm going to have the lens of a consumer company, and I think there are some growth tactics and techniques that are now happening on the enterprise, and the business side. If you wanted to be a consumer growth expert, here are the things that you should do. You should read and listen to all the content that's out there about this expertise. There are a couple of websites, and others that you can learn from. There are great slide shares out there. Zana has some great content on growth. Really immerse yourself in what the experts are saying about growth, that you understand that from a high level and then from as much detail as possible. That's number one.

Number two; there are the Growth Hacker conferences. There are conferences you can attend. There are some boot camps that you can attend. Go to those events. Meet the people who are doing it. Understand the kind of background they have. So now you have a frame of reference.

The most important thing, after you now have a sense, you can sort of understand the language, what people are talking about, is getting experience. So either if you're technically capable, which is the ideal thing, is you can build an app and try and grow it. Using the things that you learned, try and apply that to your own business. Maybe it's really something that you're passionate about, or maybe it's just a fun project that you can prove to yourself and to a potential employer that you've done this. And maybe, even better, you can come up with something new and creative that no one else has thought of.

Not only are you now a growth hacker, but maybe you'll become a well-known growth hacker before you even get into the community. And even if you fail, having that experience actually will be very, very valuable. If you're fortunate enough, maybe you can go to work for a growth team. There are some great companies that are hiring growth hackers. Several of the mentors that may have been mentors at Twitter and Airbnb and other companies upfront have great growth teams with really, really amazing educated growth hackers who could teach you a lot. You just go and learn for a couple of years and add value there. That would probably be the easiest way to become an expert in this space, but maybe the most challenging is getting a job in that way.

So get experience. Learn and get experience. Make mistakes. Hopefully have a bunch of successes and then you really can be an expert in the growth hacking space.

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