Sean Ellis and Ethan Garr interview CEOs and product, growth and marketing leaders from the world's fastest-growing companies so that you can learn from them to take your growth to the next level. Sean and Ethan draw on decades of experience growing breakout success companies and products including Dropbox, Robokiller, LogMeIn, Eventbrite, Lookout and Uproar to ask the right questions.
Balancing Customer Privacy and Growth, DuckDuckGo Challenges Google
Brian Stoner says that Google, Facebook, and many other companies have made it their business models to track you online, but in this episode of the Breakout Growth Podcast, he explains to hosts, Sean Ellis and Ethan Garr, that while regulation may ultimately be the answer to this problem, consumers can fight back today with DuckDuckGo’s all-in-one mobile and desktop privacy solutions.
At DuckDuckGo, Brian serves as Vice-President of Product, shaping the company’s browser extension and mobile app experiences. Consumers use these solutions to browse and search the Internet for free, but the company is challenging the notion that users must sacrifice their privacy for these services. The company makes money showing ads to its users, but it does no user tracking in the process. To be successful, DuckDuckGo has optimized for speed-to-value, elegantly showing users how its services protect and serve with every interaction.
So what are the sacrifices and tradeoffs for a company that’s made search privacy its mission? Can users expect the same search quality they get from Google? And without access to user data how can DuckDuckGo effectively optimize for growth? We drill into these questions with Brian and learn how the company’s fully remote team embraces a culture of transparency and learning to drive sustainable growth.
Few companies dare to challenge the Googles and Facebooks of the world, and even fewer are successful. However, in a world where consumers often feel powerless when it comes to trading privacy and security for access to the connected world, DuckDuckGo has found a way to grow and thrive.
* Why consumers feel powerless to protect their privacy on the Internet, and how DuckDuckGo challenges the business models of Internet giants like Google (2:04)
* DuckDuckGo’s advertising-based model, and how that works without user-level tracking (4:42)
* How the company looks to build parity in its functionality with its competitors relying on external APIs and other innovations (9:50)
* The company’s approach to making good bets by looking for “ the smallest thing we can do with the highest impact, and lowest complexity” (14:24)
* Founder, Gabriel Weinberg’s thoughts on “Traction” and what it means at DuckDuckGo (20:54)
* The culture that challenges the company’s fully remote team to question assumptions (24:00)
* Organization around growth, without a centralized growth team (30:12)
* User testing movie nights to share learnings (41:02)
And much, much, more . . .
Skillshare's VP Growth Explains how They've Accelerated Growth by Sparking Creativity for Millions of Online Learners
In this episode of The Breakout Growth Podcast, Sean Ellis and Ethan Garr speak with Kyle Jansen, Vice President of Growth at Skillshare, an online learning community that offers 30,000 classes focused on creative pursuits. As Covid-19 dramatically increased demand for online learning, Skillshare has leaned into a culture of experimentation where everyone in the organization is encouraged to contribute ideas to power growth.
Buoyed by a $66 million fundraising round in the midst of the global pandemic, Kyle explains that the already cash-flow positive organization is looking to accelerate growth on multiple fronts. From expanding its international presence to helping companies bring creativity to their entire workforces, Skillshare is looking to capitalize on the strong product/market fit the company has established by helping everyone from hobbyists looking for better ways to bake bread to professionals trying to add illustration skills to their resumes.
Interestingly, much of Skillshare’s growth, product and funnel optimization efforts were outsourced up until 2019, and in this interview, we learn how that impacted the business. We also find out how influencer marketing has been a crucial growth lever, and how Skillshare’s mobile app fits into the company’s online learning ecosystem.
Kyle says the company’s Chief Product Officer always talks about “Doing the Brilliant Basics,” and in this episode, we get a sense of just what that means as Skillshare builds its breakout growth success story.
How Skillshare’s dual-sided marketplace offering of both home-grown and creator-developed content drives value (4:03)
The timing and purpose of the company’s recent $66 million fundraising round (7:38)
Where the company’s mobile app fits into the ecosystem and how that has evolved over time (10:06)
Skillshare’s international expansion and how product-market fit varies from market to market (19:49)
The test/learn culture that drives innovation and growth and the growth team structure driving these efforts (26:59)
Universe App Empowers Entrepreneurs to Build Websites Using Only Their iPhones
With the Universe mobile app internet entrepreneurs create complete websites using only their iPhones. Joseph Cohen, the company’s Founder and CEO started with the idea that if you could empower creators to “build the internet” you could unlock a wave of creativity (4:36). In this episode of the Breakout Growth Podcast he shares the Universe journey with Sean Ellis who is joined by Ethan Garr for the discussion.
Universe was built based on the realization that today, creators use their phones to do everything from editing photos and making music, to shooting videos and writing books. Being able to build a website in that same environment is a natural next step for this mobile-first generation, and these websites allow users to create, promote, sell, and fulfill orders. Essentially, they can build fully-functional businesses without outside help using nothing more than a phone that fits in their pocket.
Joe explains that his business model is tightly aligned with the goals of his audience. He feels strongly that the more Universe can help creators grow their businesses, the more successful the company will be. In this episode, we will learn how this approach has unlocked word-of-mouth growth, how experimentation helps the company find and amplify opportunities, and how a ship early and often mentality is embraced and shared with users.
Through the lens of Universe’s growth story, including its recent $10 million funding round, this episode of The Breakout Growth Podcast offers unique insights into the challenges and opportunities facing mobile companies looking to accelerate growth.
How the democratization of the web in things like photos on Instagram and video with TikTok has created a mobile-first creation mindset (5:00)
The challenges of creating a website-building tool specifically for the small screen of a mobile phone (5:55)
Universe’s original pivot to its current business model (11:35)
How the companies North Star Metric closely aligns with customer success (38:30)
The company’s approach to growth through experimentation and continuous improvement (39:45)
Klarna, a $10B Fintech Unicorn, is Changing How People Shop Around the World
Technically, Klarna is a Fintech company; a Swedish bank that provides online financial services such as payments for online storefronts, direct payments, and more. However, in this episode of the Breakout Growth Podcast we learn that Klarna is not an ordinary Fintech startup at all. Their breakout growth success, which has seen a valuation increase from $2.5B to more than $10B in just the past year and a quarter (5:40) offers powerful lessons on how growth is built on a foundation of strong product/market fit coupled with great execution, and a data-driven test/learn process.
The company is driving innovation and making shopping simple, safe and smooth for millions of consumers, and in this interview, Sean interviews Jon Chang, Global Head of Shopping Growth Marketing, who joined the company in August of 2019. In that short time period, the company’s US operations have grown 10X and Jon describes that success as being an output of “doing a good job of preparing ourselves to be lucky” (14:10). We discover exactly what that means as Jon explains how he and his team structure and execute their approach to accelerating growth.
The company now has over 3000 employees broken down into 400 teams. More than 150 of those employees are focused directly on growth, and we find out that it takes very intentional culture-building effort to drive cross-functional alignment across such a massive and growing organization (24:06). Although the name Klarna may be new to you today, this is a company that is having a massive impact on the world in which we live.
Impacts of Covid-19, and how the company has responded and grown through the crisis (6:30)
The company’s unique mobile app that “ingests the entire internet” to offer unique buying power to consumers (14:10)
How the company has evolved over its 15-year history, including a pivot from B2B to B2C sales (16:58)
Jon’s test/learn growth approach and how a marketing experiment recently yielded a 7x increase in installs (28:53)
How the company culture which led to 10X growth in the US in one year, looks to do that again this year (41:40)
How Neurobiology can ‘Unleash Your Primal Brain’ and be Used to Drive Growth According to Author Tim Ash
Tim Ash ran the strategic Conversion Rate Optimization agency, SiteTuners for over 20 years, a business that has generated over $1.2 billion in value for its clients. At the core of that success was a deep understanding of neurobiology, which Tim explores in detail in his new book ‘Unleash Your Primal Brain’. In this episode of The Breakout Growth Podcast, Sean Ellis interviews Tim to better understand how “what makes us bizarrely and uniquely human” can be used to help us drive growth.
The conversation is spirited as Tim holds some contrarian views to Sean when it comes to driving growth through high-velocity testing and optimization practices. However, there is also plenty of common ground as they discuss how the biology of the brain impacts everything from interpersonal relationships to politics, and how an understanding of these ideas can be applied to accelerate growth for businesses.
Both Sean and Tim are passionate about the importance of driving value for end-users as the foundation for unlocking growth, and there are exciting learnings as Tim explains how “relentless dissatisfaction” can help companies find opportunities to drive significant improvements. According to Tim, “‘Unleash Your Primal Brain’ may help you make a billion dollars or even become the next Dalai Lama, but at the very least this interview will help you understand how a deeper look into your own brain can help you understand and influence others.
How neuro-marketing and principles from ‘Influence’ by Robert Cialdini’s helped shape Tim’s thinking and his book
How the biology of the brain and cultural and genetic co-evolution impact our lives as humans
The do-nothing status quo and why companies fail when they try to be nice instead of appealing to our survival instincts to avoid pain
Why companies need to focus on value over product and put the emphasis on learning from customers
How neurobiology and science fit into the test/learn approach to growth
How motivation, ability and triggers work together to drive action
Biggest Tech IPO in 2020, ZoomInfo's CEO Shares their $13B Growth Journey
Currently valued at around $13 Billion, ZoomInfo, made its Initial Public Offering on NASDAQ in early June. It was the technology sector’s largest IPO of 2020, and in this episode of The Breakout Growth Podcast, Sean Ellis interviews ZoomInfo’s, CEO Henry Shuck. We discover how using data, technology, and insights, Henry and his team have built a platform that today is used by more than 200,000 sales and marketing professionals at 16,000 companies to help them find their next best customers.
Henry explains that the journey began when he was a law school student. Having worked for a company in the same space that ZoomInfo would eventually occupy, he saw an opportunity to help an underserved area of the market and launched Discover.org (5:00). The business took off, but it was learnings from a webinar a few years later that helped him see how sales and marketing automation could be transformational for the business. Using these emerging technologies to power meaningful interactions with customers, the company--which was bootstrapped through 2014--rapidly expanded and positioned itself for growth through acquisition (12:40).
Discover.org eventually bought the original company Henry had worked at while he was in college, and in 2017 they completed the purchase of ZoomInfo. Merging Discover.org’s powerful tools with ZoomInfo’s tremendous industry breadth proved fruitful, and today the combined company has more than 1300 employees. While the large organization is built to support and drive a sales-driven model, Henry explains that an always-experimenting mindset, using data at every step in the customer journey, is actually the foundation of ZoomInfo’s breakout growth (34:00).
The story of how Discover.org came into existence to fill a market need, and how that eventually led to the acquisition of ZoomInfo, and the recent IPO (5:00)
How sales and marketing automation transformed the business and became the company’s competitive edge (12:40)
Key challenges that have threatened the company’s success, but also helped the company thrive (23:52)
How experimentation powers growth within ZoomInfo’s sales-driven model (24:00)
The intricate organizational structure, that relies on specialization to acquire and retain an enthusiastic user base (28:30)