The Early Years

Hypergrowth: the early years is a series that examines the path to growth of the most successful tech companies. Through interviews with early employees, we’ll dissect the black box of early growth, so you can better understand the product decisions, channel exploration, and early hires that helped kickstart the growth journey in the early days.

Featured Episode

Amirah Raveneau-Bey has deep experience in growing and scaling companies. In her time at Opendoor, Nerdwallet, and Trulia, she has grown go-to-market teams across sales, partnerships, operations, and growth.

In this episode, you’ll hear how Amirah helped the teams at Trulia create pent-up demand for products before they were released, build communities of superfans to evangelize new products, and and get crystal clear on their target customer. You’ll also learn how Nerdwallet teams pulled customer insights out of qualitative interviews to inform product direction, and how to “hire for today so you have a tomorrow.”

  • The process Trulia used to get crystal clear on their early target customers so they could get product-market fit.
  • How Trulia created pent up demand for a product before it was released and created anticipation within the agent community for new products
  • Building a community of superfans by making customers feel heard through conversations and events at Trulia
  • When pulling customer insights out of qualitative interviews changed the direction of product at NerdWallet
  • Why you need to hire for today so you have a tomorrow. How using an iterative, trial and error approach to hiring works for growth functions, and what to do if your team doesn’t scale

Previous Episodes

As a co-founder of Branch, Mada Seghete has helped create a new industry around mobile revenue management and architected the growth strategy of many companies. Today at Branch, Mada manages the marketing, market development, and strategy teams, helping Branch get their technology out to even more customers.

In this episode, you’ll hear the story of Branch, and how they started after several pivots, finally finding product market fit around solving a problem that the founders themselves faced. Mada will also share insights on finding product-market fit, leveraging content and organic search to grow your business, and how to measure and properly attribute your efforts across channels.

  • How Branch Metrics was started after several pivots, including a pets company, and ended up solving a pain point the founders faced
  • The hard and fast rule on finding product-market fit: why at least 8 out of 10 people need to say they want your product (Branch was 10 out of 10)
  • Getting to the early users through blood, sweat, tears and a little bit of strategic marketing
  • Leveraging content, thought leadership, and events to build pipeline and find customers at scale
  • Tips to boost organic search ranking of your pages through specific tactics around link building, social traffic, and great content
  • How to track impact and attribution down to tactics, touches, and even minutes spent by specific teams  
  • Hiring for growth, and how it differs across companies, and how it’s different from product, marketing, and other functions

No individual has had a more critical role in driving growth at early stage companies than Andy Johns. As an early growth leader at Facebook, Twitter, Quora, and Wealthfront, Andy has seen and experienced it all, and taken many companies beyond the S-curve of hypergrowth.

In this episode, you’ll hear about Andy’s approach to consolidating early customer conversations into a product strategy that wins both the hearts and the minds of prospective customers. He’ll also share his radical thoughts on paid marketing and how to build early growth teams.

  • How Andy picked companies and products to work on based on whether a product elicits an emotional reaction when picking your next company
  • Why you shouldn’t overindex on data, and how early and extensive customer conversations shaped the product and growth strategy at Wealthfront
  • The key customer insight that eluded the team at Wealthfront until they dug into qualitative data from customer conversations — and how they addressed it
  • The importance of “sell, design, build” when building for an enterprise audience; and how to know if potential customers are actually willing to pay
  • How Facebook balanced optimizations on the growth team with bigger product bets
  • What metrics should you use to measure product-market fit and how to think about business metrics vs customer success metrics
  • Why you shouldn’t care about CAC/LTV or invest time in paid marketing for early growth

As the one of the first marketing hires at two breakthrough companies, Square and Opendoor, Brett Browman has lived through every critical early decision on growth — from which channels to invest in first, to how to think about LTV, to what to look for in your first growth hire.

In this episode, you’ll hear more about early marketing decisions that influenced the growth trajectory of both companies, how Brett and team tested value props through a rapid testing framework, and what tactics worked at Square and Opendoor in the early days.

  • What was most important at Square and Opendoor for early growth
  • The importance of Square’s "Swipey hands" and ways to communicate product functionality
  • Key ratios to watch for growth metrics, and how to balance growth and margin by articulating a clear path to unit profitability
  • How to test early value props rapidly through the 80/20 rule and a rapid testing framework
  • What worked at Square (understanding of LTV and attribution), and didn’t (using pricing as a marketing lever, not diversifying growth channels early enough)
  • What worked at Opendoor (running many early channel tests and leaning into direct mail), and didn’t (invest in online marketing early enough)
  • Why you should look for breadth vs depth of experience when making your first growth hires