Building a Growth Team from Zero to Fifty

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Growth is still an emerging discipline, and not everyone has a structured growth team within their org. But, let’s say you get to start from scratch and build the ideal growth team. What people and roles would you start with?

Andrew Chen and I recently sat down to look at a few configurations to consider as you're scaling up a team around growth. We've broken up the conversation into three videos, with notes below each video. 


1. The Minimum Viable Growth Team -- 1 to 3 people
2. The 10-20 Person Growth Team -- The 1-5-10 Ratio and Growth Specialization
3. 50-Person Growth Team and Beyond -- Where Growth Drives Product

Each is below, with summary notes.

1. The Minimum Viable Growth Team

Key takeaways for this video

  • Founder as the "growth team," and what skills that requires
  • If not the founder, marketer as the "growth team" armed with tools (Optimizely, Leanplum, Kahuna, etc) or an engineer who can build but is also business-oriented enough to build for growth
  • Even if it's just one person, it's crucial to cover both business thinking and implementation ability
  • 3 people allows your growth team to be independent: a PM with a marketing bent, and a full-stack engineer and frontend designer for implementation
  • Because both iOS and Android are important, it's now (more) necessary to cover those bases and either increase engineering resources, or strategically limit scope and work in phases
  • Early growth teams need to prove themselves, so think hard about project impact and likelihood of success.  
  • Quick rule of thumb: Growth = Total User Reach x Expected Impact.
  • Take a set of actions and think about it as the number of those actions divided by monthly active users, or a similar core metric.
  • Then ask, does your impact area represent a large enough percentage of MAU where if you grew it, that change would be a big and company-wide win? 
  • Work on areas that don’t feel like a niche part of the product; instead, focus on the broadest base. 
  • Early teams need to regularly and publicly celebrate victories to increase buy-in and continue to get resources to expand

2. The 10-20 Person Growth Team -- The 1-5-10 Ratio and Growth Specialization

When you're ready to scale up to the next stage, you're looking at a 10 to 20 person growth team. How do those numbers relate to the rest of the organization? What does the split look like within that team?

Key takeaways for this video

  • As the company is scaling, use the 1:5:10 Ratio to understand how the growth team maps to the overall org
  • As the overall org grows, analytics and experiment infrastructure becomes a more important investment
  • Growth will be the power users of any analytics / experiment infrastructure output, so that function could live within growth
  • A more mature / resourced growth team should map to the user lifecycle
  • Ask: what are the functions, team members and structure required to take someone from non-user to user, to repeat power user?
  • How should sub-teams on a larger growth team be organized? What areas should they tackle? 
  • The right time for the growth team to take on bigger risks 

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3. The 50-Person Growth Team and Beyond -- Where Growth Drives Product

Few companies are at a stage where a 50-person growth team makes sense, but more are getting there. Here's what that looks like, and what projects that growth team would take on.

Key takeaways for this video

  • Sub teams in Growth will map to the user lifecycle and manage that on an ongoing basis
  • Another part of the growth team will take on big bets -- rather than optimizations 
  • Bigger bets can be divided up into short term bets (i.e., a new design for a "People You May Know" feature) and long term bets (i.e., Facebook's Internet Free Basics)
  • When does the growth team own these projects versus the product team?
  • Growth vs. Product depends on what purpose it serves.
  • Ask: is the project ultimately about driving growth?
  • Ask: is the growth team entrepreneurial enough to tackle a zero-to-one problem?
  • The right time to take on international expansion as part of Growth

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