Working together in a real-life office, growth leaders build important relationships in a company. Those relationships may last through the pandemic, but let’s say you’re a new company and you’re remote-first.
How do you build this complex collaboration from scratch?
Growth marketer and investor Susan Su tells us that the solution isn’t just more software tools. In the interview below, she says that post-pandemic, startup founders will need to develop a mindset that puts growth at the heart of the company’s strategy.
Consultants and agencies can be great additions to this effort, especially if they have previously addressed the problems you are facing. (In fact, ClearTips is asking founders working with growth marketers to share a recommendation in this survey. We’ll use your answers to interview more experts.)
Su is currently the Head of Portfolio Strategy for Sound Ventures, formerly the growth leader at Stripe and previously hired at Reforge. She shared some thoughts on the market opportunities after the pandemic in the full interview below. E-commerce is mainstream for good, she says, even as we all too often try to move away from screens. However, many social and mobile sectors are maturing, and it is going to be even harder for startups to compete as real-world activities absorb more time.
Don’t forget: Susan Su will also appear (and answer direct questions) at our Early Stage virtual event on July 8.
How do you see startups managing the change in user engagement as more people exit the pandemic lockdown and adjust to their daily lives?
As we exit the pandemic, I expect we will see a natural and clear spike in some consumer activity that will extend to medium-sized businesses and enterprises. Just like at the start of the pandemic, we will see uneven results across sectors:
E-commerce boomed during the pandemic, but it was actually an augmentation of an already bullish trend towards digital commerce and streamlined logistics. I don’t think we back off e-commerce because online shopping has become a habit over the years; We’ll be back in an age long before 2020, and that’s not going to happen.
New social-mobile experiences also boomed during the pandemic, but there is still a valid question as to whether 15 months or so is enough time to become part of the underlying infrastructure of daily life. We are living in the age of mature platform, so every new service is stealing time from existing service. With pre-pandemic development, their success rests on rapidly accumulating network effects and great, sticky core product experience. Now that we have parks, friends and diners calling us out again, it’s a real test of how compelling some of these new value propositions really are, and whether they’re showing their relevance in a more hybridized online-offline world. can continue.
That said, the pandemic was a huge constraint on human society and [the] economy, and these kinds of constraints often lead to innovation that doesn’t go away. We will grow, but we can never go back. It sounds ludicrous but it is true.
Some aspects of the pandemic, such as remote work, have radically changed some industries. How will these social changes affect how the typical startup thinks about growth?
Growth will always be growth – that is, a process of iterative experimentation to identify and solve customer problems, and then scale those solutions to reach and convert larger and larger audiences. Platform changes such as iOS 14 or Facebook’s periodic algorithmic adjustments will have a big impact in the near term on the technical functioning of the development, and are not specifically related to the pandemic.
One area of view is how development teams are created and operated. Development is a horizontal function that touches many different parts of the organization including product, engineering, marketing, com, and design. Many startup teams are already working with collaboration tools even while sitting in the same office, but development is about much more than just using the tools. The most effective development leaders succeed by building relationships throughout the organization; It’s like the story of Stone Soup – you’re making this meal that will feed everyone, but you also need to bring each person a pinch of salt, or a pinch of pepper, or a carrot, and that requires socializing and bonding. – Requires construction. I’ll be very interested to see how new development leaders ride on remote-only teams and what approach they take to this “networking”.
From the days of growth hacking on social platforms, growth marketing is now an established part of the world. But this is not necessarily the core expertise of a startup founder, even if it is required. So, how should they think about addressing growth marketing in 2021? What are the essential things they should do in their roles?
Every founder needs to have a growth mindset. They don’t need to remember all the right buttons to push into the advertising dashboard, but they do need to be familiar and comfortable with the core function of interoperability. That said, founders are entrepreneurs by definition – their company exists because they see an opportunity no one else has seen, and it’s also a fundamental act of growth.
Founders will fail if they adopt a mindset that someone else can or should do for them. The job of the founder is to supply ambition and opinion, and then to attract high-quality talent and pull the levers and bring their creative vision to life. there are many people who can Tax Growth Marketing – ie they know how platforms work, they understand the rules and playbook. But there are very few who can come up with truly visionary strategies that completely change the game – those people become founders, and those companies become household names. So for a founder, I would say the most important growth task is to continue to know your market and customer better than anyone else in the whole world, to have an opinion about what is lacking, and to bring in the best talent to come together. to work for. You and be a thoughtful partner, not just a button pusher.
Have you worked with a talented individual or agency that helped you find and retain more users?
Answer our survey and help us find the best startup growth marketer!
With limited resources, how should early-stage companies think about what to focus on?
It will depend on the goals of your company. Are you planning to raise funds and need to demonstrate some KPIs? Are you bootstrapping and need to keep the lights on? Resources should always be allocated to the most strategic objectives, with the most long-term outlook that you can afford. For some companies, this may mean giving up revenue to focus on viral or word-of-mouth-driven user acquisitions to demonstrate to future investors that there is something special here. For other companies, perhaps in low-volume categories like enterprise, it’s about bringing some strategic logos into the family as a sign to later customers and other stakeholders, including future employees and investors.
One thing that early-stage companies should always focus on is building a top-shelf employer brand. You will only be as good as the talent you attract to your company, and interestingly, growth can actually play a part in this. The people with the best designers, engineers and products often flow to the companies that have the best growth. As such, it is a highly strategic role and function.
What do startups keep doing wrong?
You can’t really outsource development or any other core work; You cannot focus on customer acquisition after product development. At the end of the day, if you really think about it, all company is a customer-acquisition engine. It must be original; Wake up every day and think about growth, not only to hit revenue or user KPIs, but to build the company that the best people are struggling to work for. It’s not about finding someone close enough to solve your near-term problems; It’s about framing problems in a way that’s so compelling to the most creative, hard-working people they can’t get it out of their heads. Go for brilliance moons, and find out how to turn them off. The rest will come in line from there.
When should a founder feel comfortable getting help from an outside expert or agency?
anytime. Agencies are great. They are an extension of your talent, and the best agencies aren’t selling you—they have to be sold on your problem because they have a selection of companies just like you. This is the agency or outside specialist you want to work with, as they will have an invaluable approach with other best-in-class founders and teams with whom they can bring your challenge. Any agency can run Facebook ads (it’s not rocket science), but you want to find the team that solves your hero companies’ biggest problems. Then you will get not only an advertising manager, but also a teacher.