Welcome 20Growth How To Hire a Head of Growth What are Signs of WorldClass Talent How To Structure the Process How To Onboard Growth Teams The Relationship Between Head of Growth and CEO and more with Casey Winters, Chief Product Officer @ Eventbrit



In the inaugural episode of 20 Growth, Casey Winters, Chief Product Officer at Eventbrite, shares his extensive experience in scaling growth strategies and teams. With a history of transforming SEO at Pinterest and spearheading marketing at Grubhub, Winters delves into the nuances of identifying product-market fit, the importance of data-driven decision-making, and the necessity of understanding a company's growth model. He emphasizes the critical nature of communication within organizations, especially in clarifying the role and value of growth teams. Winters also stresses the need for growth leaders to maintain a learning-focused approach, regardless of short-term metric fluctuations, and to build strong relationships with both users and internal teams to effectively connect people to the product's value.

Summary Notes

Introduction of 20 Growth Series

  • Harry Stebbings introduces "20 Growth," a series focused on insights from top growth leaders.
  • The series aims to provide benchmarks for hiring and scaling high-performance growth teams.
  • Casey Winters, Chief Product Officer at Eventbrite, is the first guest on the series.

Today starts the next chapter of 20, the media platform that extends well beyond venture, bringing you discussions with some of the world's leading minds across different functional areas of business building.

The quote establishes the expansion of the 20 VC platform into broader business discussions, starting with the "20 Growth" series focused on growth leadership.

Casey Winters' Background

  • Casey Winters has extensive experience in growth marketing and product management.
  • His achievements include scaling Grubhub from three cities to over a thousand and leading Pinterest's growth team.
  • Winters has also advised several companies, including Canva, HipCamp, Reddit, and Fair.

Casey is the chief product officer at Eventbrite, where he leads the PM product design, research and growth marketing teams.

This quote highlights Casey Winters' current role at Eventbrite and his responsibilities, emphasizing his leadership in product management and growth.

Sponsorship Segment: Brax and Pendo Free

  • Brax offers a combination of credit cards, expense software, and payments for startups.
  • Pendo Free provides no-code product analytics and in-app guides for growth-minded founders and product managers.

Brax combines high limit credit cards, expense software and payments into one platform to help you scale smarter and faster.

The quote describes the services provided by Brax, positioning it as a tool for startups to scale efficiently.

Casey Winters' Entry into Startups

  • Winters began his career as an analyst at Apartments.com, focusing on Internet-native marketing channels.
  • He transitioned into roles that blended marketing and product, leading entrepreneurial projects within Apartments.com.
  • His network led him to join Grubhub as the 15th employee, where he spearheaded demand-side growth.

I actually started my career as an analyst at Apartments.com; it was my job to measure the success of all these channels we were using to drive demand, like SEO, Adwords, affiliate marketing, email.

The quote provides context on Winters' early career, detailing his initial focus on measuring marketing channel success.

Scaling Grubhub and Joining Pinterest

  • Winters played a key role in scaling Grubhub's operations and network effect.
  • He moved to San Francisco to explore opportunities, leading to his role in building Pinterest's growth team.
  • At Pinterest, Winters focused on scalable growth and international expansion.

I ended up joining Grubhub as the 15th employee...scaled out from a couple markets to most of the US, from very tiny series a valuation to a multi billion dollar company.

This quote summarizes Winters' impact at Grubhub, highlighting his contribution to the company's significant growth and valuation increase.

Growth Advisory Role at Greylock

  • Winters became a growth advisor in residence at Greylock, working with over 50 companies on growth strategies.
  • He left Greylock to advise companies full-time, including Canva, Eventbrite, Tinder, and Thumbtack.
  • His advisory role at Eventbrite evolved into a full-time position as Chief Product Officer.

I became this growth advisor in residence at Greylock, was working with like 50 plus companies on figuring out their growth strategies and how to scale their businesses.

The quote explains Winters' role at Greylock, where he provided growth strategy advice to a large number of companies.

Defining Growth and the Role of a Growth Leader

  • Growth involves connecting people to the value already created by a business's products or services.
  • A growth leader must understand the growth model of the business and identify and alleviate growth constraints.
  • Growth leaders should focus on making existing value easily accessible and acquiring more users who will find it valuable.

Growth is about connecting people to the value that's already been created by the business, either through product or services or whatever.

The quote defines growth as the process of connecting potential users to the value proposition of a business's offerings.

Structuring Growth Teams

  • Winters advocates for cross-functional growth teams, including engineering, product management, design, and analytics.
  • He warns against the risks of a growth team operating too independently, which can lead to a lack of integration with the rest of the organization.
  • Effective growth teams should communicate their strategies and value to the broader company.

Growth is really a team sport, you're going to need all these different skill sets to go after the best growth ideas.

This quote emphasizes the importance of collaboration across different disciplines within a growth team.

Timing for Growth Teams

  • Startups should focus on growth as soon as they achieve product-market fit.
  • Founders should demonstrate a commitment to growth before hiring a head of growth.
  • Initial growth efforts might not involve forming a dedicated team but rather prioritizing growth within the existing organization.

As soon as possible after product market fit. That's when growth becomes the number one concern of most startups and that's where you need to be building out that capability.

The quote advises startups to prioritize growth initiatives immediately after establishing product-market fit.## Formation of Growth Teams

  • Growth teams often originate from individuals like engineers, PMs, or designers taking initiative to improve overlooked aspects of a product.
  • These individuals focus on areas such as onboarding, logged-out experiences, or sharing flows.
  • Success in these initiatives can lead to the formation and scaling of dedicated growth teams.
  • Early employees who show interest in growth often end up leading these teams.

"It's usually like an engineer or a PM or designer getting frustrated that something's been utterly left behind by their roadmap and then just going and making it better."

The quote explains that growth teams are frequently started by proactive individuals who are motivated to enhance parts of the product that have been neglected in the main development plan.

Demonstrating Value of Growth to Hires

  • Founders should demonstrate to potential hires that growth is a priority by showcasing successful existing teams.
  • Resources should be allocated to growth before hiring a growth leader to show commitment.
  • Success of internal teams in growth-related projects can attract external growth leaders.
  • Communicating with the existing team can confirm the company's dedication to growth and readiness for a growth leader.

"Basically all you do is you show an existing team that's gotten to work and had success and been rewarded for that success."

This quote suggests that by highlighting the achievements and recognition of current teams working on growth, founders can signal to potential hires that growth is taken seriously within the company.

Structuring the Hiring Process for a Head of Growth

  • When hiring a head of growth, it's crucial to assess the company's stage in its growth strategy.
  • Founders should distinguish between 'kindle' strategies (early user acquisition) and 'fire' strategies (scaling).
  • The head of growth should be hired to scale, not to start the initial growth ('kindle').
  • Depending on the company's needs, the focus could be on sales, performance marketing, content loops, or virality.
  • Identifying the most relevant growth strategies helps in selecting a candidate with the right expertise.
  • Critical skills for a growth leader include strong data analysis abilities and the capacity to conduct experiments and iterate quickly.

"You don't want to bring in a head of growth to start kindling things. You want to bring in a head of growth to really start the fire."

This quote emphasizes the importance of hiring a head of growth who can scale the company's growth efforts rather than someone who starts from the beginning stages of user acquisition.

Testing for Data Skills in Candidates

  • Testing for data skills involves asking candidates how they would diagnose and solve problems based on changes in key metrics.
  • Questions should be adjusted according to the business's specific metrics and channels.
  • Candidates should demonstrate an understanding of base rates, comparative data sets, and the ability to isolate variables quickly.

"You walk in one morning and this metric went down by a material amount. How do you figure out what happened?"

This question is a diagnostic tool to evaluate a candidate's ability to think critically about data and identify the factors influencing metric changes.

Other Essential Skills for a Head of Growth

  • In addition to data skills, the head of growth may need subject matter expertise in a specific growth loop, like performance marketing or content distribution.
  • Understanding of algorithms, content creation, and distribution is crucial for certain roles.
  • Product-driven growth is a scalable and measurable strategy that requires breaking down large opportunities into small, testable chunks.
  • Performance marketing and brand marketing are other layers of growth strategies with different scalability and measurability.
  • The hiring process should include case studies to assess a candidate's ability to structure experiments and drive growth through product changes.

"A lot of what product driven growth requires is someone that can figure out a grand opportunity and then break it down into really small chunks that help them learn."

This quote highlights the need for a head of growth to have the skill of dissecting large opportunities into smaller, actionable parts to facilitate learning and progress.

Appropriate Timing for Case Studies in Hiring

  • Founders should build relationships with potential hires over time, which can lead to hiring or advisory roles later.
  • Once a candidate shows genuine interest, it is appropriate to introduce case studies to ensure mutual understanding of the role and its requirements.
  • The hiring process should balance excitement about working together with a realistic assessment of the candidate's fit and capabilities.

"Once they're interested, be like, hey, I have a duty to show you what this job is. Let's do a little bit."

This quote suggests that once a candidate is seriously considering the role, it is the founder's responsibility to provide a clear and accurate picture of the job's demands through case studies or other evaluative methods.## Mutual Benefit of Interviews

  • Interviews should benefit both the interviewer and the candidate.
  • If a candidate feels a task is beneath them, it may indicate they're not the right fit for the role.
  • It's important for candidates to understand the job and determine if they like it before committing.

"Yeah. I mean, interviews should be for both sides, right?"

This quote emphasizes that interviews are a two-way street, where both parties assess suitability and fit.

Onboarding for a Head of Growth

  • Startups often have poor onboarding processes.
  • New growth hires should spend time understanding the company's data and analytics.
  • Learning the data model and how data is captured is crucial for building a business understanding.
  • Meeting real customers is important for understanding the product's core value.
  • Growth leaders should regularly talk to users and build relationships within the company.
  • It's vital to overcome skepticism of growth roles by building trust with other executives and teams.

"I spend so much of my time in the data writing SQL queries, trying to understand where does traffic come from?"

This quote highlights the importance of a data-driven approach to understanding business operations for someone in a growth position.

Relationship Building and Integration

  • Growth leaders must build strong relationships with other departments, especially product teams.
  • They must align with the head of product to ensure growth efforts complement product quality.
  • Growth leaders should communicate their strategies and results to the rest of the organization.
  • Addressing skepticism and building trust through transparency and communication is key.

"Building relationships with the broader team is super important because there still is this default skepticism of growth work inside a lot of companies."

This quote underscores the need for growth leaders to actively engage with and earn the trust of other teams to mitigate skepticism.

Communicating Growth Strategies

  • Growth leaders must evangelize the value of growth to the organization.
  • They should not rely on CEOs or managers to address their challenges but should tackle them directly.
  • Admitting mistakes and explaining how they will be prevented in the future is part of the role.

"I made, like, half of my job communicating what we were doing and why to the rest of the organization."

This quote reflects the necessity for growth leaders to devote significant effort to explaining and justifying their strategies to the wider company.

CEO and Growth Leader Relationship

  • The frequency and format of meetings with the CEO depend on the CEO's style and company needs.
  • Growth leaders should ensure the CEO understands the strategy and metrics, but also work independently.
  • It's crucial to align with the founder's vision and strategy, not to create a separate one.

"We all work at the pleasure of our ceos. It's their company, it's not yours."

This quote reminds growth leaders that their role is to execute the founder's vision, not to take over the company's strategic direction.

Maintaining Team Morale

  • Growth teams must focus on learning and strategy, not just short-term results.
  • Celebrating results can be misleading as they may not always be due to the team's efforts.
  • Keeping the team informed about strategy and learning opportunities helps maintain morale during volatile periods.

"You can't focus entirely on the results. What you really want to focus on is the learning."

This quote advises that a focus on continuous learning and understanding user behavior is key to long-term growth success, rather than just looking at immediate metrics.

Unfortunately, the transcript was cut off and does not include the full context of the final point regarding a growth decision made without data. Therefore, no notes can be provided for that section.## Reliance on Data for Growth Strategies

  • Casey Winters emphasizes the importance of data in developing successful growth strategies.
  • He shares personal experiences where relying on gut feelings from previous experiences led to unsuccessful outcomes.
  • Casey highlights a strategic shift at Pinterest, where they changed their user acquisition approach based on the stage of product adoption curve they were in, which did not yield expected results.

"Fundamentally, I think the data is the core of finding good ideas. Usually when I'm not, then it doesn't work super well."

This quote underscores the idea that data-driven decisions are crucial for identifying effective growth strategies, as opposed to relying on intuition or past experiences.

"So we entirely shifted our acquisition model based on that kind of strategic understanding, but not based on an experiment that told us anything to try to open it up for those people, start to get a sense of the different things they were interested in and then recommend them eventually to join Pinterest."

Casey reflects on a strategic shift at Pinterest that was based on understanding the different needs of users in the latter half of the product adoption curve, rather than on specific experimental data, which did not prove to be as successful as hoped.

Context-Specific Growth Tactics

  • Casey stresses that growth tactics that work for one company may not work for another due to different business models, user intent, and other contextual factors.
  • He advocates for building frameworks that are tested across various business models and stages before being considered reliable.
  • The conversation highlights the importance of understanding the context in which a company operates before applying growth strategies learned from other businesses.

"A lot of these differences are based on the type of business you're in, right? So like B2B SaaS versus a marketplace versus a consumer social company, there are different things that tend to be successful."

Casey points out that growth tactics are not one-size-fits-all and that the effectiveness of a strategy can be highly dependent on the type of business and the industry it operates in.

Impact of Angel Investing on Growth Mindset

  • Casey discusses how angel investing has influenced his approach to company growth and the importance of product-market fit.
  • He describes the difference between advising and investing, where as an investor, he assesses a company's ability to learn and execute quickly.
  • The conversation reveals the shift in mindset from executing growth strategies to evaluating the potential for growth in early-stage companies.

"So really what I've had to do is build my own framework on what product market fit looks like, how we get there if we're not there yet, which is not something I had done much previous in my career."

Casey describes how angel investing has led him to develop a personal framework for assessing product-market fit, a task that was not as prominent in his previous roles.

Stability of Growth Tactics Over Time

  • Casey notes that certain growth tactics like SEO, email, and Adwords have remained relatively stable over the past five years.
  • He mentions that organic social reach and consumer SMS have declined significantly as growth tactics.
  • The conversation reflects on the dynamic nature of growth strategies and the importance of staying updated with current effective tactics.

"I would say SEO has been pretty stable as a platform. Email, also Adwords has had a little bit of change, especially on the mobile side. But all in all, still a relatively stable channel."

Casey provides insight into which growth tactics have maintained their effectiveness over time, indicating that some channels like SEO and email marketing continue to be reliable.

Common Mistakes in Hiring Growth Teams

  • Casey identifies common errors founders make when hiring growth teams, such as choosing the wrong metrics to focus on and short-term optimization.
  • He advises founders to select activity metrics that correlate with the value experienced by users and to consider long-term stability.
  • The discussion highlights the strategic errors that can hinder a company's growth trajectory.

"I think picking the wrong metric to focus on is super common, and I try to make sure founders are picking an activity metric that best correlates to value being experienced at an appropriate level of frequency."

This quote emphasizes the importance of selecting meaningful metrics that align with the value users derive from a product, rather than arbitrary measures of engagement or revenue.

Advice for Growth Leaders

  • Casey advises growth leaders to spend time communicating their growth strategies as much as executing them.
  • He points out the lack of understanding of growth strategy in the industry and the need for growth leaders to manage relationships and explain their rationale.
  • The advice underscores the importance of transparency and communication in the role of a growth leader.

"I think it's this concept of spending as much time as you can communicating what you are doing as much as what you're actually spending your time on to grow the business."

The quote highlights the dual focus necessary for growth leaders: not only to execute growth strategies but also to communicate their actions and intentions effectively to stakeholders.

Changing the Perception of Growth

  • Casey criticizes the term "growth hacking" and the misconception that growth is solely about quick fixes or experiments.
  • He calls for a deeper understanding of the growth model of a business and the need for substantial engineering work to scale.
  • Casey also discusses the pitfalls of prioritizing performance marketing as the sole growth channel.

"This concept of growth hacking. I hate the term. First off, growth is done in a team. And it's not just hacks or experiments like it requires understanding the growth model of the business, where the constraints are, and potentially doing quick hacks. But a lot of times, deep engineering work to actually scale the business."

This quote expresses Casey's disdain for the oversimplified view of growth as a series of hacks, emphasizing the collaborative and complex nature of true growth efforts.

Impressions of Company Growth Strategies

  • Casey shares his admiration for the growth strategies of companies like Fair, Canva, and Ritual.
  • He praises Fair for its ability to encourage both sides of their marketplace to engage, Canva for its content-driven network effect, and Ritual for their understanding of core acquisition loops and execution speed.
  • The insights provided offer examples of companies with growth strategies that Casey finds impressive and effective.

"Been really impressed with how they get both sides of the market to invite each other into the superior way to transact. Canva is a company that on the outside looks like more of a consumer subscription company, but it's able to grow like a network because of all the amazing content that's created through the service."

Casey highlights specific companies whose growth strategies have impressed him, providing examples of how they have effectively leveraged their unique business models and market positions to fuel growth.

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