February 18, 2021

Building Fast Growth SaaS Companies

In this discussion, we discuss what it takes to build fast-growing SaaS companies. Our guests have founded incredible companies that are slowly becoming icons in the SaaS market: Webflow and Outlier.

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The host

Nima Gardideh

President of Pearmill, ex-Head of Product at Taplytics, ex-Head of Mobile at Frank & Oak. YC fellow.

Our guest(s)

Bryant Chuo

Co-founder at Webflow

Sean Byrnes

CEO of Outlier.ai

About this episode

The process of building fast-growing SaaS companies is fundamentally different compared to consumer companies.

Growth marketing was originated out of consumer companies like Facebook but the discipline has formed its own form for SaaS companies. In this discussion, we discuss what it takes to build fast-growing SaaS companies.

Our guests have founded incredible companies that are slowly becoming icons in the SaaS market: Webflow and Outlier.We explore how marketing, sales, and product can work together to grow the company and some of the challenges founders and growth teams face along the way.

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Nima Gardideh: Welcome to The Hypergrowth Experiencegrowth Experiencegrowth Experiencegrowth Experiencegrowth Experiencegrowth Experiencegrowth Experience. I'm Nima Gardideh, I'm the co-founder and CTO of Pearmill and your host. The process of building fast growing SaaS companies is fundamentally different compared to consumer companies. Growth marketing was originated out of consumer companies like Facebook, but that discipline has formed its own form for SaaS companies.

In our third episode, we discuss what it takes to build fast growing SaaS companies. Our guests have found that incredible companies that are slowly becoming icons in the SaaS market. Webflow and Outlier. I chat with Sean Byrns, co-founder CEO of Outlier.ai and founder of Flurry plus Bryan Chou, co-founder CTO, and go-to-market of Webflow and ex CTO of Vungle.

We explore how marketing sales and product can work together to grow the company. And some of the challenges, founders and growth teams face alone. I was truly blown away by this discussion. So let's jump right into it. 

Sean Byrnes: Hello everybody. I'm Sean Burns. I've been a founder and CEO of companies for about 20 years now. Uh, That includes consumer businesses some freemium productivity tools. And my current company is a company called Outlier.ai, which is an enterprise software company. We use artificial intelligence to automate business analysis and our customers, our growth people at large consumer brands where they want to understand consumer behavior and how consumer behavior is shifting and how demographics are changing.

And that's what we helped them with at Outlier. I've invested in. dozens of companies and seen almost every kind of go-to-market strategy every kind of growth strategy out there and the pros and cons, and I'm excited to share everything I've learned. And frankly, all the things that I haven't learned, because let's be honest, nobody here has all the answers with everybody.

Nima Gardideh: This is true. Thanks a lot. And I remember you uh, calling me, I think the way we met is when you were doing product development for Outlier and you call me and you're like, here's what we're working on. And it was, yeah. It's been really cool to see you guys scale over the last few years. and, uh, Bryan, why don't you go next.

Bryant Chou: Hey everyone. My name Is Bryan Chou. I'm the, one of the co-founders CTO of Webflow. And you might be wondering why the CTO is on the call or on the podcast today. But as of maybe two, three years ago, I started transitioning my time over more into the go-to-market realm. So worked on standing up for sales team marketing teams.

And then before what. I, along with Sean actually was also in the mobile app space. So I was a CTO of a company called Vungle and um, have had a, kind of a weird roundabout way to getting to kind of the role that I play now 

Kind of started as an embedded systems engineer at Qualcomm and kind of went further and further up the stack to the point now where I probably can't even write a line of seed I can compile. So yeah, it's, it's awesome to be here and interested that we're just really keen on having this discussion.

Transcript of the episode

Nima Gardideh: That's awesome. I relate to that a lot because I also, as a programming and my career, and I was coding this thing with my brother and C++, and I couldn't get it to compile for like an hour. And it's just, it's, it's so far away from me now. 

we, we were chatting before about how you guys have approached growth in general. I think that there is a very clear distinction between maybe Outliers gone after customers, even from the early days until now, versus maybe how Webflow has been doing it. And I thought we could start with, why did you choose that path? I think that in itself should hopefully shed a lot of light on how you could be thinking about what types of sales motions, or marketing motions you should be going after. Maybe Sean, you can get started. We can, we can always get a sec, you know, Sean, Bryan cycle.

Sean Byrnes: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So it's interesting. Cause I think that the, your, your motion, your go-to-market motion and how you sell on everything. Is a journey because you can't know out of the gate necessarily what the best motion will look like your customers, as you mentioned, [00:04:00] I met you because we were doing research into what that might look like at Outlier.

And if you might, my previous company before Outlier was a company called Flurry, which was a large analytics and ad platform for mobile apps. And even at Flurry, you know, we were starting the early days of mobile apps. It wasn't clear how do you reach mobile developers, right? Like what is a mobile developer and what do they need and how do you speak to them?

And we had to learn those things. And at Outlier, you know, when I had, I had this idea for a tool that would, like I said, use artificial intelligence to analyze your data and bring you insights. Okay, well, that's great. But who do you sell it to? And how do you sell it to them? And I had some theories. I'll give you an example of one that was totally wrong, which was, you know, the best customer for Outlier would be startup companies or small businesses because they can't afford to hire analysts and therefore will be the best, the virtual analyst for them.

And we'll just do a direct model. I like I'd use it Flurry, which is a freemium, you know, try it and then upsell. And that was a diSaaSter. It was totally didn't work because it turns out small businesses. They just don't have time [00:05:00] to deal with these sorts of things. They're too busy just getting the business going.

And it was through a period of iteration and selling and. customers and looking at works, that we ended up with what we have today, which is a more or less traditional enterprise sales model of selling to executives of large businesses. But it wasn't clear at the beginning of that was going to be the right model.

And we kind of found that through iterative research. And one thing I'll emphasize though it's really important was it's really expensive to try to find that journey by doing meaning like you don't want to hire a bunch of salespeople to figure out if enterprise selling works. You don't want to spend a few million dollars on, on ads on Facebook to figure out if direct marketing works.

Like it's very expensive to do it, to see if it works. So the game is how do you try to test to see if it works before doing it for us? Like you mentioned. I met a lot of people. I wasn't even selling the product. I was just interviewing customers, trying to understand if this did exist, how would you evaluate it?

How would you buy it? How do you learn about products? Where do you go? And it was, we saved ourselves a lot of time and money and were very cost-effective [00:06:00] by not trying to move to emotion until we had proven that it worked. And that was, it takes time. But time is a lot cheaper than money. And it's one thing you have plenty of as a founder.

Nima Gardideh: Yeah, that's an interesting that this comes up a lot. Yeah. So for context, I think I forgot to mention what I do. I run a pay growth studio where we help software companies scale through art and technology. And quite often, founders come to us and say, you know, we've never spent a single dollar on any of these channels.

Can you come and scale us up to a hundred thousand dollars a month? And, and it sounds like, oh yeah, of course we can't do that for you. But really that's, that's a huge problem because you're just probably likely going to waste money is you probably don't know enough about your customer base alone to let us know what we can do.

And I think it's such a classic problem that I noticed a lot when, when people come to us and immediately reject those folks, obviously, and tell them, you know, what, that's why you should be doing spend the first $20k yourself. It's not rocket science, uh, same with sales through the first few, few sales by yourself and figure out if it works, then hire someone. That's going to [00:07:00] do some SDR work rate work for you.

Bryant Chou: I'm actually curious to ask Sean, like if you guys started out with developers that are startups, that didn't have no budget to hire data analysts, where, where are you now in terms of ideal customer profile and what was the journey to get there?

Sean Byrnes: That's actually a great question. So our journey slowly moved up the stack. So we went from the early stage startups to later stage businesses, to eventually pre IPO companies, businesses like, well, they were pre IPO at the time. The real, real Poshmark who, when they went public last week, good RX and went public a year ago. And then from there found was the larger we were going, the more success we were having. And so then today, you know, our customers include some of the biggest fortune 500 businesses like capital Nin those sorts of businesses. 

And so what I was finding was this, this return, which is the bigger we went, the more success we had, it would have been. And this is probably an important point. It would have been a mistake to try to go after capital one at the beginning, [00:08:00] because trying to sell to a large organization like that, there's a lot of, you don't want to learn through the process because it can take many months to close a deal like that in selling to the early companies while we were successful.

We learned a lot of lessons very quickly about what worked and didn't work. And that meant by the time I worked my way up to these big companies, All that mattered. All that was left to learn was exactly how to sell to them. It wasn't how to, should the product work and how should they experience work and all those sorts of other questions.

Cause I think Nima, to your point, you don't want to conflate a lot of those things. Like how many lessons can you learn in a single experiment, right? And all these things are experiments. So if I'm going to a sales process and I want to learn, how do I sell this? What's the right price? How should the product work?

Like all those sorts of things, just too many things, you can't learn them all in a single process. And so we did benefit even though it felt frustrating in the moment having to like try to sell the certain kinds of companies and failing, inevitably, it probably was a more effective, efficient path to, to the right fit for us.

Nima Gardideh: This, [00:09:00] this feels like so correct for me, cause this is exactly how we felt like, I think we were not ready to sell to some of these bigger companies. And I attempted it before. Right. We had like, got into meetings when I was pitching like some way bigger companies than the average sort of client that we had.

And we just didn't have the infrastructure. We didn't know how to speak the language. They were looking for things that we just didn't have. There were parts of our organization that were just not set up to speak to them in a way that they expected at a large scale sort of growth agency or whatever to, to speak to them.

So this like sounds super familiar to me where you kind of have to slowly climb up. At least from me to me to enterprise mid-market to enterprise feels like a gradual. Yes. You'll learn about what, what pieces you're missing. You put it together and he'd go in and SaaS, I'm sure it's all these like certifications for, since he got to happen and all this sort of stuff, when you're dealing with enterprise versus mid-market, does it makes a lot of sense, right? Right. How about you guys? I think you guys obviously

Sean Byrnes: A question for, I thought it'd be interesting. So Dan asked this question, the comments that Bryan, I think it might be interesting for you to address, which is that's great, but how do you, [00:10:00] which I think is really the great question of, of selling anything is how do you get meetings? What's uh, what, what do you, what do you have to say to that? 

Bryant Chou: Okay. So I am not the person to answer that question because our entire go-to-market strategy relies on the bottoms up and product led growth motion. So we deliberately did not do sales, um, actually until last year. So the company had already been around for six and a half years till we started doing sales assist and then sales led.

So for us, it all depends. And what I tell founders all the time, when they're starting to think about how to build out their go-to-market, it really just depends on what type of products, you know, what type of industry you're going on. So with Webflow is, fundamentally what Webflow is to revolutionize, or essentially trying to re re-imagine the way software is developed.

And we imagined that the best way to develop software is to do it visually [00:11:00] where a startup founder, a designer, even an engineer, um, is much better served to building their software visually. And we started on a front end, which no one was doing at the time. Everyone told us we were crazy. Everyone would say that this is not going to be as powerful as developers need.

And this is too complicated for designers, but we kind of just stuck to it. And in order for us to see success, we had to create a groundswell effect and that groundswell effect, it's essentially the foundation of our go-to-market back in 2013 as it is today. And what I mean by that is that we have to just go for broad, broad adoption.

We have to prove to the world. Through word of mouth in the number of customers that we actually were building a product that people really needed and loved. And then it was only after probably we had a hundred thousand paying customers, that we started do sales so... 

Nima Gardideh: What was the [00:12:00] reasoning like? Well, how come you decided to start, doing any sales to begin with? Why not just like ride that out? 

Bryant Chou: Well, first off, like the company was already, well, actually I'll, I'll rewind a little bit like the. had a Rocky start, you know, it's several different near death experiences got rejected by YC coming out of YC. The second time we applied, we barely, you know, scraped a seed round together. So essentially we were extremely bootstrap focused because we just had so many near death experiences or really in our company's history.

So for us, it was all about getting to profitability and getting to profitability meant that we weren't willing to invest heavily into sales and to have that J curve come out. So it was all about the high velocity, all served motion, where we could easily, let customers subscribe to whatever plan they needed.

That kind of like was a bit of scar tissue because, we had [00:13:00] kind of so accustomed to this particular approach for so long. And it wasn't until I would say late 2019, um, that we just realized that we were getting pooled up market. and what I mean by that is, is that customers would literally call our personal cell phones.

I have no idea how, you know, prospects could find my phone number. It would be emailing just like Bryan, I really need an MSA. I really need you to fill out this security questionnaire. I really need you to do this. So what we did was we essentially just, plucked someone out from the customer support team and it was like, you've got a sales background.

Like just help me just like take some phone calls. And that's, that's how our sales, um, Kind of started from there is that we just were, people were just essentially begging us to, to have this of motion. 

Nima Gardideh: Is this brand though, by the way, the person that you would put. Yeah. I just had a conversation with them because one of our clients is [00:14:00] buying you guys. That's such an interesting thing. You know, you hear these stories about like when you hit product market fit, for instance, there was this like pull effect and when customers calling you, that's just, that's the epitome of it. Right. Um, it makes so much sense. 

Sean Byrnes: And that's the answer to the question. How do you get meetings? Say they just call you. It's really that simple. There you go growth in, uh, you just have to spend the six or seven years before that building the business. So that, that, that happens. It becomes easy.

Bryant Chou: Oh, it's totally circumstantial, right? Like it's totally depends on what type of product do you have and what type of company you ultimately want to build? Do you want to build a product first company or do you want to build a sales lead company? 

Nima Gardideh: Yeah. I mean, just to... 

Sean Byrnes: Wait, actually, that's a, that's actually a question. I wasn't saying it is your question, but I'm curious what you guys think, because sometimes having done those a few times, I often find myself wondering that companies that master their go-to-market strategy. Is there, how much is luck and element there because you can't, you can't try every possible [00:15:00] go-to-market strategy, right.

It's just not possible. And so, you know, Bryan, you mentioned how you, you, you, you didn't go for the sales model because you had some scar tissue. Flurry was the same way as we came from a consumer background. So a freemium direct service model was what we knew. It turned out to be the right go-to-market motion. But I can't say that it was an exhaustive search of every option that got us. There was we we were there for other reasons. So how much is, is finding it luck versus how much a science? 

Nima Gardideh: I mean, if I could, if I could answer that question without, without guessing, I think that the, the thing is like, this is what we do, actually. You know, we, we think that basically there is some intuition plus data that is like probably the answer. Cause there's no, not enough. Any, any data available to tell you what, what the right thing is. And one of the things we do for our team is when we try to come up with experiments, we essentially do a gut check where everyone kind of predicts things. It was like, here's where the experiment's going to go. It's going to either win or lose. We're going to learn nothing. [00:16:00] And we then look at what we do.

This is like basically the the hedge fund S model of trying to look at how good people are at, at sort of taking bets on things. And over time, we, we tell you how good you are at betting on things. And it turns out and the data said basically, most of the time it's a toss out. Like it's just most of the time. And these are the people who are spending millions of dollars on these things, and they want to experiments for a living for growth And it's most of the time a toss up. So, so much of it, I think, has to do with what Bryan mentioned. and maybe you have also went through similar processes, which is finding where your product actually fits.

And I call this sort of like product channel fit. It's like there was this thing with my product. It works very well within this channel. That's why it's working, not so much where, okay. I could have done it this way versus that way. It's actually like cohesive and I may be wrong about this, but this is my theory.

Bryant Chou: I actually feel like there's a, there's a calculus that a founder can make here that you put [00:17:00]together the TAM. what type of users you can address that TAM and then you kind of fit it into your distribution strategy. So, okay. Let's just use the example like at Vungle we had, uh, an ad network and for us, we knew that the TAM was big.

So we wanted like anyone to download the SDK and install it so that the commoditize it but we also knew that from a distribution angle, the vast majority of mobile apps and games that make money is in the short tail. It's in like the top five. We're even top 2% actually of mobile app developers make like 90% of the revenue or something like that. so we just knew that. we had to have a sales motion. Right. So I think it's like, actually, I don't know. I'm sure someone could like create a Google sheet for this or something like that. And just like, how big is your town, right? [00:18:00] Like what is your distribution look like and what is like the, the curve, um, the distribution curve.

You're a potential customer set. Same thing with Webflow. Like the TAM is huge. Websites is the largest software category in the world. The number of direct service, a serviceable addressable market are at the time for us freelance web developers, we looked at up, okay, let's just call it 500,000 freelance web developers.

We're like, that's pretty considerable TAM in certain in SAM. So let's just go with self-serve And see how far it can go. So. I think any founder can probably run through that calculus to like, kind of like get an understanding for how big their market is, but then you have to, couple that with your distribution strategy, how are you actually going to go reach those people?

Sometimes it's bottoms up self-serve or paid marketing. Sometimes it's outbound sales. 

Nima Gardideh: What's interesting. The way you're talking about this is basically like you had a,[00:19:00] some form of a solution in mind already, or you're trying to think, okay, this is the solution. Here's what the potential market for the solution. And now I can work backwards from how to reach that market with, with whatever distribution channel, whereas. And it goes against like a lot of wisdom around, oh yeah. Don't have a solution in mind in the beginning and go discover the problem first and, and go at it. And maybe this is like different, interesting, but.... 

Bryant Chou: Yeah especially at Webflow we take it or product development philosophy is different in that sense is that we're not going to incrementally get to the innovation that we at least as founders and as leaders want to see. Right. 

like, in 2013, no one said that they wanted what Webflow when we explained it to them. But we were just like, it should just exist. Like we have Adobe Premiere for video editing. We have Maya for 3d modeling. We have, your, your digital, studios, right? Like, [00:20:00] w what's what do they call it Ableton. Right. And these are all essentially uh, abstractions over this creative medium that people engage with every single day.

Right. But none of that existed for the web, which is like the one medium that people interact with the most. So we're just like, well, there's got your gap to fill it.

Sean Byrnes: I think you're so the reality is any good idea is going to sound crazy at the time, because if you're, if it doesn't sound crazy, I don't think you're ahead of the market. To arrive when you need it to, right. If it's obvious, everybody might already be too late. I that's every Flurry and Outlier everything I've done.

People would look at it at the beginning and say like, that doesn't make sense. Why would you do that? There's other ideas that are much more logical and that vision drives you to do something that other people don't realize. And then what happens is, you know, a few years later they're like, wow, you're so visionary.

And you're like, yeah. I thought, I feel like I was visionary the whole time, but used to tell me I was crazy. What happened back then?[00:21:00]

Nima Gardideh: Time time heals all these things where people are like, oh man, I was so wrong about this company. It always makes me feel like VCs have such a hard, hard job because of it. Cause it just see that innovation and they just can't understand it. So they pass on it.

Sean Byrnes: That's right. I tell founders it's better for people to think you're crazy at the beginning and realize you're your visionary later because often it's the other direction where people are at the beginning and then you're crazy later. So you want it to happen in that day.

Nima Gardideh: I love it. 

Bryant Chou: So again, I love that. 

Nima Gardideh: Yeah. So the next thing I know I wanted to touch on a little bit you know, I come from like this ward, I call it, you know, even internally we call our people growth managers and the word growth is being used a lot more. And I feel that the SaaS industry, at least, especially like enterprise SaaS and, and correct me if I'm wrong, Sean, but it feels like it's still using the marketing term. a lot more.

maybe, maybe we could talk about what is the difference in your minds in this? Cause I think I've heard so many different variations of this, you know, there was like this growth hacking [00:22:00] term that was thrown around for like half a decade earlier. And then now it's going towards like growth marketer. So it's kind of mixing, mixing it with marketer, but then some of them are under product roles. Like what, what, what is like growth, growth, hack or growth mean to you, I guess in your organization? Did you even have people with those titles? 

Sean Byrnes: That's a great, and honestly, having done both consumer what we do now at outlier enterprise selling, I have it's changed. I've seen kind of all of them, and I'll tell you for me, let's start off with marketing. There's different kinds of marketing. There is performance marketing, which we call growth, where it's a lot about a quantitative approach to, I put this in out, what do I get out of it? How do I optimize my conversion rates? 

There is brand marketing where your goal isn't to drive an outcome. Your goal is to drive awareness to people know my brand, and that's going to be common for consumer products like shoes or food where they, you may not go on a website to, well, these days you do, but in general, I'm going to go on a website to buy something. But I want, when [00:23:00] I walk into a store to be thinking about it as brand marketing, and then there's also what they call product marketing, which is how do you talk about your products? What language do you use? What messaging, how do you position yourself, which is not performance. It's more around making sure you're in a position to use performance marketing, because you have terms that you use, you have logic and marketing breaks down to all those different forms of it.

I think that what happens in enterprise sauce that a lot of the other forms of marketing are as not more important than performance marketing or growth, whereas in the other holes, especially in consumer. I think performance marketing and growth is probably the most important. And so why is it different enterprise versus consumer and a consumer world?

You're not talking to your customers every day. A lot of it's about volume. It's about how many people you add. It has to be about the numbers and the economics of it. And the enterprise world. You know, there's a world where let's say we sell enterprise software. That's a million dollars a year, which is on the extreme of that.

You may only close a few deals a year. And what matters in those shoe deals is their relationship with that buyer [00:24:00] and things like brand marketing and product marketing matter a lot, because all you're trying to influence is one person or one group of people. I'm not trying to close millions of new users in my platform.

So there's not a lot of performance marketing to be done because there may be, you know, a dozen buyers in my platform, they all fit in a spreadsheet. I can literally call and talk to them. Live. A lot of is the other forms of marketing that influence that decision. Whereas on the other end and consumer it's about numbers.

You have to get to volume. It's a race to volume because if you don't get to volume, nothing else ends up mattering and it becomes about performance. And I think that's why there's these different definitions is depending on where you are. There's this kind of sliding scale. This is kind of the model Bryan was talking about.

It's there's this model where like one extreme is consumer one extreme is enterprise. And based on where you are, the relative forms of marketing, start to off play each other. I think as my opinion, at least.

Bryant Chou: For growth roles at Webflow, there's actually three categories. Now I'll explain how growth lives inside of our company right now. So the [00:25:00] first pod is growth inside of the product org. So we're actually calling that pod not growth product, but we're actually calling it user life cycle. And for the. Team, uh, it's a growth product team. So there's designers, engineers, and product managers. They're in charge for all four stages of the user life cycle, acquisition, activation, monetization, and retention. So across those four stages, we have actual engineers and PMs working on that. And on the marketing side of the house, We also have growth marketers and they supplement the growth product teams with also acquisition work.

But one thing that they layer on on top is awareness. So now essentially we have like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 different stages of the life cycle with marketing, owning awareness, with blend on activation and then growth product or [00:26:00] our lifecycle team owning those four stages. And, So that's like our growth people as like a subtree below growth marketing that lives in marketing still are our demand gen marketers.

So these are, user acquisition focused that are specifically meant to service our sales teams and to acquire leads and generate leads for our sales teams. So there's actually, when we talk about growth at Webflow you've got PMs designers, engineers on the self-serve side, got growth marketers, but then you also have demand gen.

So there's actually like five different roles in growth, at Webflow that are all kind of loosely correlated, doing the same thing. And what we try to do at the company is we will really try to make sure that the teams are all serving. In the same direction and then also drafting off of each other.

And what do you mean by drafting off of each other? Is that if the content team that's working on. a blog post, is meant to [00:27:00] talk about a particular use case, the demand gen person is going to make sure to extract, you know, elements of that So that they can take, you know, some, something that they can bring to leads or for the beach on But, we are quite intentional about focusing our, our lifecycle teams. So for example, on a quarter basis, we'll say only work. It only work on activation. That's the lowest hanging fruit. 

Next quarter is it could still be that because we still feel like this is the highest leverage things. So we're going to continue working on activation over time. However, we expect just like, other companies have done like Dropbox, Alack, Atlassian to do staff full time teams focused on specific parts of the user life cycle. So right now we're spinning up another team on acquisition and this acquisition teams are going to be really working hand in hand with our community team, with content team, just to really make sure we have a really healthy top of funnel and that our product, and really [00:28:00] facilitate those signups from the right customer segments that we want.

Nima Gardideh: Yeah, this all seems super familiar. Cause it's, I think very popular in consumer, right. The question I have for you. And this has always, I think I've seen it happen differently is who's like looking at the economics of the whole thing, because now you have these silo teams who are given these like metrics to sort of win at.

So I go, I need to retain more people. I need to get more people in who's looking at the holistic picture of dollars in dollars out of this game. Is it, is it the growth people or is everyone sort of reporting on that metric together? Is it you? That's what you're looking at every, every day, like who is in charge of the economics of the business.

Bryant Chou: At least at Webflow it's a variety of people. And, at the end of the day, we have different functional leaders that will own different KPIs. So, you know, our, our head of growth will own activation metrics. That's the only person, that's the only thing that that team is working on. 

Nima Gardideh: And can you, by the way, just describe what activation means, just so [00:29:00] in case people don't know. 

Bryant Chou: Yeah. Sorry. It means post sign up the percentage of users that, you know, activate, uh, in Webflow and for us it's, uh, users that build a website that have at least 10 visits, that's our like more star metric.

So like for Airbnb, it could be, you know, guests completing a booking for, you know, Dropbox. It could be number of files sinked, but that was what, you know, we worked with our data science team to essentially come up with our north star metric.

So it just depends on what part of the. funnel, we tried to be really clear about who's holding what torch. So we'll have, you know, one person to own conversion. We'll have one person to own the raw signup numbers, which is the growth marketing team. And then we'll have people watching, you know, certain KPIs such as churn rates and stuff like that.

At the end of the day, you know, I hope to build a culture where everyone is looking at our Tableau dashboards, where they can see like all of our top line [00:30:00] metrics and they can have a really good pulse of the business.

Nima Gardideh: That makes lot of sense. 

Sean Byrnes: Actually brings up a good thought for me too, which is one of the other reasons that I think that the growth model you're describing doesn't work as well in enterprises that, you know, the enterprise sales cycle can be, I don't know if you're selling to banks, it can be measured in years. And so there's less of a feedback loop you can build in as part of a growth, performance mindset.

Whereas obviously if you're transactional and you're asked to drive a behavior and in the same session or in is a very different kind of model where it's less high touch. It's more about those sorts of things. It's probably also a factor in the different levels of it.

Nima Gardideh: Yeah, what's interesting is this activation thing made me think that, not, not to scare you or scare you about this model model of growth. But I remember the, I don't know if you guys remember that company Tilt, they were doing these like sort of

You know, crowdfunding for awhile. And I spoke to a bunch of growth people. This is like four years ago now. And because they were given such like hard [00:31:00] numbers, you have to have these many activations, et cetera. They were like getting their friends to come and like tilt, tilt jobs. And like, that's obviously not sustainable, but you know, the day before the month was over because they were being judged and these numbers they're basically faking the numbers in a way.

But what's, what's cool about maybe the activation sort of rule that you've said is that it's very hard to fake that like people have to build a website and then there's like 10 people have to visit it. So.The choice on what that activation moment is in a product like that seems to be extremely important because there's people game it, even though it's your team that you're trusting to grow, grow, grow the product for you.

They they don't want to lose their they're so obsessed with winning this game, right. That you created for them. it's, it's something that always scares me with, with incentive models around growth. Yeah. I agree. I think that's a, it's a good inspiring model because I think the best metrics of growth and just in general, are, are these secondary metrics things you can't easily game. So, you know, do you want to give a salesperson incentive of how many meetings they have or how much revenue that they close?

[00:32:00] Right revenue. Because at the end of day, they can't force somebody to sign a piece of paper and, and buy our product. But you know what, you can set up meetings just for the sake of setting up meetings and those kinds of second order things or heard a game and they drive more fundamentals. 

Sean Byrnes: I agree a thousand percent. That's a good way to think about it. It actually, Bryan, how did you come across that, that north star? Because these sorts of things, aren't always obvious with different kinds of products and it is supported. Choose it. I'd be curious to hear how you came about that website with 10 visits.

Bryant Chou: Yeah, I can say that it's the perfect metric for us, because it's not like inclusive of all of Webflows use cases that we want to capture in this activation metric. And we start, but, started with just like a very qualitative narrative, right? we wanted to be able to come up with a metric that you know, when we tell it to people, just like, yeah, that makes sense.

So the thought process is let's construct a story for a large swath of our customers where that, if the story like pans [00:33:00] out for our customers, that's like a success moment. So for us like we think about, all right, well, people come to web. They probably have an idea for what, what flow will do for them. They're going to build a website. And what does that website ultimately need to do that website ultimately needs to at the root of it is to get visitors get eyeballs, right? So like, why else would you build a website? so we thought It was like, all right, let's look at our data which actually required us to instrument. You know, things that we've never instrumented before, such as like bandwidth traffic, user agent detection. And we essentially built this data warehouse and all the backend models and all the jobs to be able to give us real time queries that can give us this type of insight. We built the distribution curve.

And then we mapped that distribution curve for the number of users that got certain amount of visits to other downstream metrics, such as upgrading to a paid plan, [00:34:00] such as retention, such as, 30 day, product usage, retention, curves, revenue, retention, curves. So then we were able to say it was like essentially pull the sweet spot down to 10 visits.

And that 10 visits had high correlation with paid upgrades. We had a high correlation with customer retention and then also revenue retention. So we just knew that that was a really solid, solid leading indicator for all of the other lagging indicators that we ultimately want in the business.

So I think it's important for founders and operators, especially at growth stage businesses to like make this distinction between leading indicators and lagging indicators for us leading indicators.

Was what we actually want to optimize around. We can't optimize around conversion rates. We can't optimize around lowering churn, but if we can optimize around one that actually a tells the right story qual, but then B has the right quants to [00:35:00] support the lagging indicators. Then that's something that we can optimize our teams or growth teams around.

Sean Byrnes: That's honestly, that's a fantastic point. I think you're right. We get so obsessed with things like revenue. A lot of people think that revenue is the right metric, but often revenue is a lagging indicator. And because AF the revenue happens after the customer has made a decision. You want some leading indicators about how likely they are to make that decision.

And that it's a big mental shift to do that. It's a very good point.

Nima Gardideh: How do you guys do that? Sean? I think it's in the Brighton Bryan's case. There's all this data that you can look at. Right? So in the, in the enterprise SaaS world obviously there isn't a lot of you talk to 10 people and one of them closest, you're actually having a great quarter. How do you guys think about these types of.

Sean Byrnes: Yeah, that's the big difference? Well, it was similar to Bryan in that we create a narrative of what the customer experience should be. Like. It's less quantitative in that to your point. There's sheer data points, but it's similar in thinking about that. So for us, a lot of what I realized early on was that if I go to you [00:36:00] and I explained, we have this platform that uses AI to analyze your data, what is your first reaction going to be skepticism? You're like, there's no way software can do that. It sounds like magic.

Nima Gardideh: That was my first reaction. [ laughing] 

Sean Byrnes: We have to be able to.

Nima Gardideh: Go ahead.

Sean Byrnes: SO what do we have to do, we have to, we have to be able to prove it to you and you don't prove things through demos. You prove things, your actions. And so we had to build a product so that you could try it immediately, try it very quickly and see it working.

You don't have to take my word for it. You can see that happening and you kind of build up that narrative and you start to realize that for us, a lot of the key. Aspect of the whole process was offering like a two week trial free trial of outlier to see it work on your data. Because a is very fast, meaning that if you're interested, you can see it working.

But also if you're, if you're willing to put your data and there's an opening in that skepticism, you have, there are some people that are so, so skeptical, they won't try anything. And of course, there's nothing you can do if somebody won't open the door for you, but if you can see that door open we found that works really well.

And what we found is people who want very [00:37:00] long trials, they want like six months long trials. The, the interest is maybe not. As acute or not as someone who's like two weeks, three weeks, cause in two or three weeks, what we found is you can learn everything you need to know about the platform. You can use it, you can enjoy it.

You can see all the, the advantages to it. If you start drawing it out, are you as serious about needing the product? Are you serious about the pain point that you have there? And so we have similar things I think, and we arrived them in similar ways. They're just less quantitative because the distribution there's a distribution, but it's a very wide, it's got a very high variance because you know, you have one customer that you close a deal in, you know, 20 days. And when he closed in 45 days and another that you close in four months and all of a sudden the variance is very wide. 

And there's also so many factors that an enterprise deal that it's not always clear the single or handful of key factors that led to the result are. And so you have to be very narrative driven in your hypothesis and testing.

Nima Gardideh: yeah, that definitely resonates with me. I think [00:38:00] it's also like with enterprise sales, it's not just the person that's using the software that's involved. There's all these slew of other people that are involved. So maybe we could talk about, I mean, I also want to ask you about the fact that you just hired a COO and how you, what you went through that thought, but We can, we can pocket that.

I'd love to hear it. And maybe it, Bryan, you guys are going enterprise as well. So this is going to be relevant to both of you is how do you guys think about the other people? There is this there's like the user of your product clearly, you know, they go and get the value out of it, but then there is the people who pay for it.

There's people who are involved, maybe like their analysts on it, or like their part-time users of it, all these sorts of how do you distinguish between them? How did you get to that in your, in your sales process, as you learned about the organizations that you were selling into, I'd love to hear about that. 

Bryant Chou: we treat the primary users and everything we do, for them as innovation and then everything we do for the other stakeholders as optimization. So the reason why I say that is what we're actually trying to do at Webflow is we're actually trying to make this visual developer [00:39:00] recall like superhuman, right?

So now one visual developer in Webflow can build something that teams of designers and developers used to take three months to do, but now you could just do it with one person in workflow, right? So that's innovation for us. Like we're pushing the boundaries of what our software can do. And then that's also not something that anyone else can do when it comes to like the table stakes features of selling into the enterprise, like SSO roles and permissions audit logs, security. tags, records, retention, right? Like those are not going to really change the game in terms of like how it's going to progress the vision of your company forward, but it's important for your go-to-market. 

So then the thing for us that we constantly struggle with is like, what is the right investment amount and then also what is the right timing to go do some of the optimizations that's [00:40:00] necessary for the go-to-market? 

Nima Gardideh: I like that a lot. I feel like, you, it sounds like you think in metaphors a lot and, and, and in stories, cause even, even when the way you talked about the growth team and how they swim together, and that was interesting. I generally like these types of approaches with management actually. So this makes a lot of sense to me.

Bryant Chou: I don't know where I picked that up from. Honestly, I just, I just, I think I'm a very, very visual person. Like I don't process things very well, like audibly. So like, I always like think my logic out. So then in order to like, describe what I'm thinking, I have to use real world examples. Like for example, today I was, I was talking about, climbing half dome as a, as a metaphor to software development for this one really hard feature we're trying to do so, like I'm constantly thinking of metaphors. I just realized that. [ laughing]

Nima Gardideh: I like it. I think it actually helps people understand what you're talking about better. It's really super useful. Um, Sean, what about you guys? I think it, I would assume you're, you're [00:41:00] selling into quite complicated organizations given, given your product. Uh, I'm sure many different parts of a company can use your product.

Sean Byrnes: Great. So. and I actually think Bryan's point about optimization and innovation is a really good one. And it's important. Remember that incumbent per the larger companies have an advantage in that they've already made that investment in a lot of those table stakes. And so the challenge we have as new companies is we can invest a lot in innovation, but if they already have those table stakes, we have to essentially play catch up.

And if we don't get that balance, the danger of not getting that balance right, as we have a lot of innovation, but we can't sell black, the table stakes are, we invest a lot in table stakes and we're not differentiated because they already had them and we're just essentially duplicating. And that's, that's really hard part of, of most software platforms.

And in that balance, I think is the difference between really. Products that continue to velocity and products that kind of stall out at some point is they don't get that balance quite right. And that's a good way of framing it. For us, I think the biggest mistake I've seen people make, and this is what I've tried to avoid [00:42:00] is that they, the customer journey or the customer experience is a byproduct of how they organized their company.

And so, for example, you have the growth team over here. They try to acquire leads, and once they finally, they throw it over the fence and you know, I don't know, your SDR team picks it up. And then the STR team develops lead. They throw it over the fence to sales. And what ends up happening is then your customer journey is very disjointed because it's an artifact of how you set up your teams.

Whereas really what you want is there's only one customer. They see one journey, they don't care how you're organized as a company. So the questions of being, how can you best architect that journey. So it, isn't an artifact of how you organize and they don't care if you have a growth team over here and as SDR team and, and those sorts of things.

I'll give you an example of how we think about it. We actually have our customer success team run the trials, and we do that because I want to know that the customer in the trial, when they're happy and they continued and they sign a contract, become a customer. I don't want there to be a handoff where they're down the fence to somebody else that you have weird rotating list of [00:43:00] people that the person that you liked, that you got up with a product.

It is the same person you'll work with all the way through, but that's not how most companies think about it. And I think it requires a lot of. It requires a lot of empathy to the customer to design something that's more in line with their expectations and that empathy. and it's also, I like, I also speak in metaphors a lot. So we'd be have that in common, right? is I find that that helps breed empathy because you start to think about it. If you're the customer, what do you see? How do we get into their shoes? And let's be honest, if you're in a growth stage company, there's things happening all over the place. There's lots of distractions. You can get lost in your own world easily and rising above it. And putting yourself back in that customer seat is such a superpower and organizations that are really good at that. I think it's just, it comes through in the fact that they just keep growing and the ones that struggle with that empathy, or they lose track of it and they get so lost in the inside baseball of how they operate.

They start to stall out. And so I try to go to great Lance and make sure we don't lose that. And, but the answer changed the right formula today might be different in a [00:44:00] year when we're twice the size, it might be different in two years. And so it's constantly moving.

Bryant Chou: I love that saying. And I think that describes Webflow really, really well, because we've made a lot of mistakes and somehow we just keep growing. So, which, which gives me the utmost confidence that once we write those mistakes, then I think, uh, you know, we'll be in a much better spot, but I'd love that. 

Nima Gardideh: Yeah, I think that that resonates a lot because one of the things that I, I truly believe in is, is organizational design has a lot to do with growth. Like the way you have designed, how people report to each other and how they communicate internally. Uh, has a lot to do with how fast you grow. And I think you just hit it on the nose where this customer success person that you're already dealing with is not going to be with you along your journey as, as a customer.

That is huge. Actually. It's like, they're rare to see in SaaS, um, where you, you basically walk through three people, usually either one is behind the scenes, you [00:45:00] don't see it in the market and that brings you in. And then there is like an SDR that talks to you. Then, then he talks to you, then a customer success manager.

Now there's like three handouts before you've started working with the product. it just makes no sense. And I always have this argument with, with, uh, SaaS founders, where I just don't agree that that's the model. but it's just become such a norm in the industry for some reason. And it makes no like empathetically speaking, it makes no sense.

Right? like if you've been on the buyer side, it's sucks to be part of that. It's like now I have to be awkwardly meeting a new person three times within like a one week period. Yeah. Just to use this software, um, that I'm paying like $2,000 a month for, and yeah, I, I, we can get more into this. This is one of the things that I think is ridiculous about the SaaS industry in general.

Um, maybe we can, we can touch on it in this way, which is, probably organizations deal with this differently, but I, hear this a lot quite often where a VP marketing comes to us and says if P sales is upset because [00:46:00] they think that, we're getting them are just not good enough or high quality enough.

And I hear the exact opposite where we've had marketing says, you know what? The sales team is bad. We send them great leads and they're just not closing them enough. It's such a weird like org design problem with basically purely an org design problem, in my opinion, but I'd love to hear what you think of that because I'm sure you've dealt with something similar along these lines before where some team is bringing the people that you want to close. They're upset about it.

Sean Byrnes: I will say that you're right. That tent driving exists. I don't think that it's an organ design problem. It's a natural tension of incentives. If you have people who want to achieve. You, you, you see a lot of things and you're going to have that tension. The question is, is it healthy or unhealthy? 

Right? Is, Is, sales eager for more leads because they know they can sell more. Are they blaming marketing for why they're not hitting their number? Those are two different things. Is marketing frustrated that they're doing all this work and the message is being lost at the personas they're bringing in. Aren't being there. There's some sort of discontinuous in the message or are they just frustrated that they're bringing all [00:47:00] these leads and they're not going anywhere.

They don't wanna take ownership of the problem. Those are different. I think sources of tension, you're going to have tension. The question can you make sure it's positive and healthy and the easiest way to figure that out is are the teams working well together? Despite the tension, if they are really working together, it probably is very positive.

And if they're struggling to work together, it's probably not very positive. And that ends up being the distinction of a well-functioning organization, in my opinion, because you're never getting rid of that tension, but it's also like you think about incentives. It, these things can exacerbate. Let me put it this way.

I think product market fit has a lot of definitions. I think the best definition I have, which is that product market fit is the company survives your mistakes. And so the stronger product market fit, the more mistakes you can make in the company will still survive. And the worse your product market fit, more that these things probably come up, right?

So the more of this friction gets unhealthy. If your product market fit isn't as strong. And if it's really strong, nobody cares because things are just cranking and you just, just [00:48:00] things take off. And it's always a spectrum, but it's not a destination product market fit can grow. It can wane. It's it's not like you get there and you're there and you just lean back and relax.

It's a constant battle, but where you are at any given point along that spectrum influences that tension a lot as well. I think because people, when things are going really well, people want them to go even better when things are going badly, they want to turn them around in different.

Nima Gardideh: what is the conventional saying? Is that growth solves all problems? it seems like one of those things where it's like okay, if you're growing And that the reason for that is product market fit, then you you get to make a lot of mistakes along, along the way. And I love that. That's that makes so much sense to me. do want to ask You uh, about how you and maybe Bryan, I'd love to hear about how the sort of progression of the team team worked a little bit, because you've now like have this like super Well, fledged, system of people working on growth and Sean, you just hired a CFO to take over and I'm assuming you you've been kind of running marketing so far yourself.

Um, how did that decision come to me and be shown? You can start [00:49:00] on, uh, you decided that it's time for a CMS. What does that mean? What was the logic that went behind it's time to bring someone on to completely live this part of the organism.

Sean Byrnes: Well, it should be clear before we hired the CMO. We actually had a VP of marketing. We still have a VP of marketing. She's fantastic. I'm not a great marketer. And so I think one of the best things you can do early on is recognize what you're not good at and find people that are good at that and bring them in and there's also a difference in the things that you think you're good at and the things that you actually are good at telling the difference between those two things is another super power. That's often hard to get a handle on. 

So I can tell you I'm not a great marketer. I'm probably okay. At product marketing in terms of finding ways to describe what we do But a lot of the other parts of marketing are not a strength  of mine. And I think why did we decide to bring a CMS. I think it might be somewhat unique to venture backed businesses, but let's summarize a successful venture backed business has no matter what you're doing. Consumer enterprise has one very important thing in common across the board, which is you grow faster, the bigger you get, and the vast majority of businesses don't do that.

They grow more [00:50:00] slowly. The bigger. And if you're going to grow faster, the bigger you are, you're defying the natural order of business, which has to slow down. And it doesn't happen by accident. I don't think you just wake up one day and you've accidentally found a way to triple And at scale. And so at some point you have to have experience and seeing that movie and understanding what's necessary to be done farther and farther in advance.

So the bigger the company gets the farther advance you have to take action. So in the early days, You know, you're doing a day to day or week to week. You're making changes. You're iterating. As the company gets bigger, you're making changes. Then you get to scale. There's a point at which you're, you're working on things that will have impact in six months or in a year, just because the numbers get so big.

You can't, You know, in the early days in enterprise, for example, you're right, you could close a single deal and that could make your quarter. And then you get to a point where it takes five deals, then takes 10, all of a sudden it's 20. And there's a point where you, you can't just hustle and find those deals.

You have to have done the work six months, nine months ahead of time to make sureyou have those deals to hit those numbers. [00:51:00] And so for me, there's a, you need people who have seen that progression and can build that engine and anticipate those problems in that. What led to us, bringing in Mike Stone as our new CMO is, was looking for somebody who had that experience.

And it doesn't, it doesn't in any way, take away from the marketers in our team who are very good. I see it. I saw it more as what can we do for the existing team to make them more successful as we scale and bringing in that experience and that anticipation of what we needed was a big part of it. And so, um, I didn't see it as we were lacking something and the team, it was need to be different in the year and two years and three years, and the best way to get there as you anticipate. 

Nima Gardideh: that's an interesting, so you thought you'd bring in someone who's like seen, and I think you put it as you've seen that movie play out. And that was, that was sort of the thinking. 

Sean Byrnes: Oh, cause like going back to this thing about growing faster, the bigger you are, imagine there's, there's a point where no matter how strong your product marketfit is if you start to lose momentum because you start tripping over yourself. That it's really hard. It gets harder and harder to reclaim it at [00:52:00] scale. And you see it all the time with these companies that get to a certain point, they start tripping up and then they have to try to reclaim that momentum. 

And the best way to not trip over yourself is to know where all those places that you might trip or hiding like enterprise software. I mean, not an example, your growth at some point in the  early days is mostly based on how fast can you get customers into your lead generation funnel, but there's a point where it transitions and all of a sudden your revenue is more dependent on how fast you can hire account executives.

And now. And it's a very subtle switch because at some point you can get enough leads but there's not enough salespeople to service them, to close them. If you can't ramp up the AEs fast enough. And the difference between say a six month ramp time and a three month ramp time is a lot in terms of how fast you can grow the business. And if you don't anticipate when you're going tomake that shift, and that happened to you, you end up being behind the eight ball where you have either more leads than you can service, or you don't, you can't bring people on fast enough because your team doesn't have time to hire, to [00:53:00] interview, to hire the salespeople you need to bring on board.

So anticipation is a big part of not losing that momentum.

Nima Gardideh: Yeah, I, I I'm extremely familiar with this problem. We deal with it a lot and other companies where they were just not prepared for the growth and we actually dealt with it in our own company last year, we were just. Able to grow fast enough. And the headcount problem is such a hard one to solve because you ruined culture.

If you overdo it and speed it up. So it's a, it's an intricate problem that I think is not at all spoken in the context of growth, but it's a huge part of how you grow companies very fast. And, and I've learned this like the hardest way is if I I'd say both of our clients and our own company, Anyway, Bryan thought you were gonna say something. 

Bryant Chou: Yeah. I think like when I'm thinking about like the progression of the word growth or marketing, or is that we started out really slow growing our marketing team because we just didn't really know. Or I didn't really know like what [00:54:00] steps or what triggers the pool. so it was honestly my own neither Tay or like around, like, I just didn't even know like what I should be doing.

I knew that, we should probably write a blog and we should probably do some thought leadership. Right. And so it was just like, okay, let's just try all these random things and see what's. what eventually worked for us was we started the blog, but we started meaning really heavily on our product launches as our primary mechanism for growth.

So we just saw that every single time we shipped a new product, there was this like re like excitement and energy on hacker news on Reddit forums. And we just like really leaned into that. And so what, one of the first hires that I made first two hires that I made was just a really, really good brand designer in a really, really good product marketer, like someone that can tell the story.

So with every new feature that we did, we just went gangbusters. We're just like, what is the most like ridiculous thing [00:55:00] that we could do with this product launch? So for example, for the web developers or web designers or Webflow users out there, we have this feature called Flexbox. So when we launched Flexbox.

We literally built a game around this feature and it was 27 levels and how to use our UI to progress through this game. And it blew up on hacker news. It was number one on hacker news. it generated 15,000 signups over the course of like three days and people loved it. it exposes people to the product and, expose people to the brand.

So that had been our strategy for awhile actually. and we think we've rinsed and repeated that for some amount of time. but now like that, I think about, you know, the marketing or it's a lot more traditional looking. So we'll have products, marketing, we'll have demand gen we'll have growth marketing, we'll have content community. and then [00:56:00] also, Ashley, our VP of Marketing. She's great about thinking about, integrated marketing as this new function, which I'd never heard of. So. Integrated marketing. for those that don't know is essentially this role where their main job is to look at all the different marketing initiatives that are happening and make sure that together, the sum of all parts is, is greater than what it, is. And for us, that's exactly what we needed because we have community efforts. We have content efforts, we have all these different things that when added up is much larger than it actually seems. So the progression of the org was definitely a progression, more of like my own internal understanding for what marketing could actually do. 

Nima Gardideh: that, that sounds familiar. It's crazy. Like, you know, when you found the company, you just don't know a lot about these things and, and you can't afford to hire the people. Who've already done it three times.So you kind of have to discover these things by yourself as you [00:57:00] as you go and obviously you get those things you. 

Bryant Chou: But I also didn't like optimize for that. I didn't optimize for people that had done it two, three times, because at least for us, the way I look at it and it's the way I still look at it is that no one's ever built Webflow before. No one's ever built our product before. No one's ever filtered community before.

So it's all going to require a lot of original thinking. But where experience does help is in terms of like having the right frameworks, having the right scoring rubrics to help you operationalize how to go out and be creative as marketer, because marketers have to be creative, they have to generate noise. They have to like, like catch eyeballs. And for that that's where like, I index really heavily on like original thinking in. 

Sean Byrnes: I think that's so true. I actually think a step farther. I think that there is, there's a reason why marketing teams end up typically looking the same at scales. There's a point where just to hit the kind of volumes you get to, there's a kind of conventions, but those first few [00:58:00] growth strategies, they're all unique.

I mean like your game examples, a great one. I'll tell you at outlier, what got our started was I had a theory that so many of these companies that help you with data, they're very pedantic and condescending. They tell you, listen, your business is complicated. You don't understand it. You have to pay us a bunch of money and then we'll help you understand what's going on.

And I'm like, that's, that's kind of weird. What if we change the voice? What if we change from being this professor, that's lecturing you on what dashboard you need to like your best friend, helping you, their homework, somebody who's just there saying, listen, you're smart. You just need a little bit of coaching and you'll be there.

You'll be able to make these decisions. Like what would it mean to change that voice? And so we launched a newsletter called the data-driven daily, which was a daily newsletter. I don't know, years ago back before newsletters are so hot, again, visionary before my test like that. And we liked it too, you know, similar to your sort of right, blew up.

We had thousands of subscribers. A lot of our first customers came through that newsletter, but it was, I mean, it, wasn't an obvious thing that that would work. Like it's a very subtle thing to change. Just the voice you're using, if [00:59:00]you think about it. And it's not that I think if you're a marketer with a lot of traditional marketing experience would make a lot of sense, but if you were really empathetic and to innovate, it's the kind of thing that can really drive results.

And so those first few growth strategies, it's, they're always unique and they're always interesting. And it's, it just goes to show you how creative you have to be in those early days to make things work. 

Nima Gardideh: Yeah, I think that's that that point is well taken. I think I have so many of these random stories of how we've acquired customers. I, you know, I've been in the startup world for a decade now, so, I, I fun example I have on this one is. We literally had people, I mean, including myself, stand outside of subways And then hand out flyers to, people to, to install an app at some point, you know, there's, there's crazy stuff that.you do in the beginning to mix them, make things work.

And then some of them are never repeatable. but they work for what you need at that point in the time, in the history of the company. Right. And, and take you to the next stage. and it's just what you do to, to, to get, get to that stage. So then you can [01:00:00] maybe come up with more operationalized versions of, of what you had come up with that.

Right. I, I, I hope if you can't find that if it's available, I'd love to send the game to people, that you guys have built. Like I'd love to also play it. Cause we're big users of Webflow.

Bryant Chou: I just dropped it in the chat. let's hope it still works and is functional. Like we've updated our, you. So that's, it could look a little bit differently, but when you're just, I don't know if I could share my screen all, I don't know. I won't share my screen. You could, you could check it out. you can play around with it and let me know if you get all the way through all the levels.

There's 28 of 'em the last one's pretty hard. So, if you end up getting it, uh, shoot me an email@bryantwebflow.com. And I'll give you a free year of Webflow professional, which is like $500 a year off. So. 

Sean Byrnes: Cool. 

Nima Gardideh: very incentivized to win this. 

Sean Byrnes: Do you see that? That was marketing everybody? That that's, that's a growth strategy right there. [laughing] Well [01:01:00] done.

Nima Gardideh: [MUSIC FADES IN] great. Well, Thank you. so much for doing this guys. It was, it was incredibly helpful, at least for me to hear your stories and how you've gotten here. you know, we're big fans of both of your products and, uh, hope to have you again on this podcast. Thanks a lot. 

Bryant Chou: Thanks for having me Nima.

Nima Gardideh: Of course. Allright. Have a good one, everyone.

Sean Byrnes: Yeah, thank you. It was fantastic. 

Nima Gardideh: Thanks for listening to our show. Get our episodes. As soon as they're released, just tap that follow or subscribe button, wherever you get your podcasts.

Plus if you want to join our live discussions where you can ask us questions, as we record, sign up at pearmill.com/hypergrowth-podcast, We'll see you on the next episode, on the hyper-growth experience. [MUSIC FADES OUT]