Superhuman was founded in 2015 (3ish years ago at the time of writing this). From their landing page, they are building “The Fastest Email Experience Ever Made.” To this day, you can still not sign up and instantly gain access to their product. Yet, they have received more press, word of mouth, and funding than 95%+ of other products. Why? Because they've done the exact opposite of what most do for product and feature launches. Let me explain...
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We’ve all heard the rallying cry of the “One Metric That Matters”.
Choose your north star and focus. Grow 7% week over week. If you grow DAUs, the rest will follow.
But blindly buying into the concept of the one metric that matters (OMTM) is a fatal oversimplification.
In a recent essay, Casey Winters, formerly Growth at Pinterest, says:
“The search for one key metric for a complex ecosystem like Pinterest over-simplifies how the ecosystem works and prevents anyone from focusing on understanding the different elements of that ecosystem. You want the opposite to be true. You want everyone focused on understanding how different elements work together in this ecosystem. The one key metric can make you think that is not important.”
In this post, we’ll expand on Casey’s points, walking through why focusing only on your north star metric is a dangerous way to measure the growth of your business, and how teams should think about setting their metrics instead.
4 Reasons OMTM is Misleading
Even the name “One Metric That Matters” is problematic. It sends the message that you only need to focus on one metric to build growth into your product - this misleads many teams.
There are four key reasons that explain why buying into the one key metric philosophy can be deadly. Let’s walk through each reason in detail.
When I joined HubSpot in January 2014 the mission was clear. One, help build the foundation for a new $100M line of business. Two, do it with a freemium and touchless model. The journey was one with many twists, turns, and lessons which I've boiled down into the Four Fits Framework that I went through in the past five posts.
In this post, I will walk you through how we laid the foundation for the HubSpot Sales product and set it on course towards that $100M goal.
You walk into your growth interview after hours of preparation. You’ve perfected your 2 minute pitch, polished your work stories, and maybe even done some case prep. You’re ready to showcase your achievements and you have an answer ready for any question they throw at you.
But there’s one big problem you’ve overlooked - the interview isn’t actually about you.
Most candidates approach the interview process as a way to showcase themselves and their accomplishments. But, the best growth candidates orient the process around the company and its strategy.
After years of interviewing hundreds of people applying for various growth roles, I’ve seen candidates make the same 6 mistakes over and over again. They all tie back to this one core error - thinking the interview is about you.
In this post, I’ll outline the six most common ways those mistakes play out - and look at the mental models that can help you avoid falling into the most common trap that trips up even the strongest growth candidates.
Get the customizable Growth Interview Prep Worksheet that accompanies the post here.
This is part five in a series about 4 Frameworks To Grow To $100M+. Subscribe to get the rest of the series.
In the introduction I explained there are two types of companies:
Tugboats, where growth feels like you have to put a ton of fuel in to get only a little speed out.
Smooth sailors, where growth feels like wind is at your back.
The difference between these two are not the common mantras of build a great product, product market fit is the only thing that matters, or growth hacking.
In part two, I talked about why we should think about Product Market Fit as Market Product Fit, how to lay out your Market and Product hypotheses, and how understanding whether you have Market Product Fit comes down to Qualitative, Quantitative, and Intuitive indicators.
In part three, I covered Product Channel Fit - the concept that products are built to fit with channels, channels are not built to fit with products.
In part four I covered Channel Model Fit - that channels are determined by your model. I went through the ARPU ↔ CAC spectrum and how your product and product tiers need to align on this spectrum.
In part five I covered Model Market Fit - your model influences the target market and vice versa.
Through out the series I've tried to highlight three key points:
1. You need all four Fits to grow to $100M+.
2. You can't think about the four Fits in isolation because together they form an ecosystem for growth.
3. You need to constantly revisit the fits because they are continuously changing, or breaking down.
Let's walk through each of them individually in more detail.
Model Market Fit is the concept that your market (and # of customers within your market) influence your model.
The first time I heard about the underlying concept of Model Market Fit was from Christoph Janz @ Point Nine Capital. He wrote a post called The Five Ways To Build A $100M Business. He then followed that up with Three More Ways, but I'm going to focus on the first five as they represent most of the $100M+ outcomes out there.
Channel Model Fit is simple - channels are determined by your model.
First, what do I mean by “Model?” The two most important elements of your model are:
- How Your Charge - For example, free (monetized with ads), freemium, transactional, free trial, one year up front, etc.
- Average Annual Revenue Per User - What the average $$ you make from a customer/user per year.
Earlier, I discussed our common obsession with Product Market Fit that has led to false beliefs such as “Product Market Fit is the only thing that matters.” A byproduct of that false belief are statements such as:
“We are focused on product-market fit right now. Once we have that we’ll test a bunch of different channels.”
There are two major issues with this statement. I’ll break them down separately.
While Product Market Fit isn't the only thing that matters, it is important, so it makes sense that there are no shortage of blog posts explaining Product Market Fit, and how to get it.
Instead of echoing the many great Product Market Fit explainer posts out there, I'm going to focus on the 5 elements of Product Market Fit that I believe are most misunderstood and overlooked:
I’ve been lucky to have been part of building, advising, or investing in 40+ tech companies in the past 10 years. Some $100M+ wins. Some, complete losses. Most end up in the middle.
One of my main observations is that there are certain companies where growth seems to come easily, like guiding a boulder down hill. These companies grow despite having organizational chaos, not executing the “best” growth practices, and missing low hanging fruit. I refer to these companies as Smooth Sailers - a little effort for lots of speed.
In other companies, growth feels much harder. It feels like pushing a boulder up hill. Despite executing the best growth practices, picking the low hanging fruit, and having a great team, they struggle to grow. I refer to these companies as Tugboats - a lot of effort for little speed.