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Kobie Fuller is passionate about helping marketers make smarter, more informed decisions through a modern, technology-driven approach to marketing. For years, he has focused on helping marketers modernize their teams and practices by better understanding, organizing and successfully integrating marketing technology.

Today, Kobie is an investor at Accel Partners, one of the world's leading venture capital firms, where he focuses on identifying, funding and building the next generation of marketing technology. 

As an operator, Kobie was the CMO of REVOLVE clothing where he more than tripled the business in two years (profitably) and helped establish the company as one of the leading online fashion e-tailors.

Prior to REVOLVE, Kobie helped found OpenView Venture Partners and was also an investor at Insight Venture Partners.  Kobie is also an author of Growthverse (an interactive visualization of the marketing technology landscape), spearheads many of Accel’s marketing meetups and actively speaks at marketing tech related startup gatherings.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    over 3 years ago #

    Thanks so much for taking the time to do this AMA Kobie. After digging into so many marketing technology companies when you created Growthverse, I'm curious if you have any thoughts around where companies are least satisfied with their investment in marketing technology? For example, I've heard from many companies that marketing automation often takes up to a year before it starts delivering tangible results to a business. Consider the cost of these solutions that must be frustrating. Have you seen this too? Is there a martech category where it is even worse? Thanks!

    • KF

      Kobie Fuller

      over 3 years ago #

      Excited to do this Sean and team! To kick it off -

      A lot of the common frustrations I see are people attempting to gain a clear 360 degree view of the customer. With data sitting in silo'd databases it is hard to get a full picture of the customer. Even further, being able to make this data actionable (in a realtime manner) is even more difficult. There are a crop of vendors calling themselves customer data platforms that are attempting to do this. Marketers historically have struggled to invest in this type of "infrastructure." However, we need to continue innovating in this area in order to be the best at customer centric / data driven marketing.

      Analytics is also an area where I feel a lot of marketers have a ton of frustration. Not sure I met anyone who loves their analytics vendor....

      6 Share
  • SL

    Spencer Lanoue

    over 3 years ago #

    Hey Kobe, thanks for hopping on here to answer questions.

    I'm on the marketing team at UserTesting, and I'm specifically focused on growing our content marketing channel (i.e. content creation, getting more traffic, generating leads & growing our email list).

    Content marketing has exploded as a channel in the last 5 years. It can be a powerful channel, but it's hard to get right.

    After working with so many marketing technology companies, what would say you are the biggest mistakes most companies make with their content strategies? I'm also curious to hear your thoughts around where we could step up our content game in the coming months/years (if you have any).

    • KF

      Kobie Fuller

      over 3 years ago #

      First off, I think your content marketing rocks...and not because I am biased investor :)

      Common mistakes I find:
      - Produce too much content where it almost comes across like spam (please don't dominate my social feed)
      - Not authentic or clearly ghost written
      - Don't focus enough on the goal (ie MQLs, traffic, etc.). I have come across people that seem to produce content just to say they are engaging in content marketing
      - Focus too much on the process (automation tools, etc.) and not enough on the outcome (related to the prior point).

      In terms of where to step up your game, maybe publish a book on "user testing 101" and take further steps to "own the conversation."

      5 Share
  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    over 3 years ago #

    Hey Kobie,

    A lot of the publicly traded MarTech stocks have been getting killed as a result of the ad blocking technology empowered by iOS9's content filtering hooks.

    What do you think is next for MarTech, and how does it evolve in a world of ad blocking, do not track, etc.?

    • KF

      Kobie Fuller

      over 3 years ago #

      Move to more first party owned data where advertisers have a closer relationship with their end customer/user. Ad measurement moves more to "attention" based metrics.

      4 Share
  • JH

    Justin Harris

    over 3 years ago #

    Hey @kobiefuller

    A few questions for you:
    1. When working as the CMO of Revolve did you have a reward program for customers?

    2. With all your research and work for Growthverse, do you see any gaps in the loyalty and rewards space?

    3. At Accel what do you look for in early marketing companies and when do you prefer entrepreneurs reach out?

    Thanks Kobie and amazing work with Growthverse, such a great tool!

    • KF

      Kobie Fuller

      over 3 years ago #

      1. No reward program though I created a segmented approach to how we treated customers based on value (some were automated / some were manual - ie if you have a whale of a customer give them a dedicated personal shopper).

      2. Yes, loyalty and rewards has always been a tough category. To be honest, I find it is very difficult to "productize" loyalty as what it takes to create loyalty/affinity is extremely complicated. Found this during my days as investor/board member of Loyalty Lab which we ultimately sold to Tibco.

      3. Look for people building the next platform (not feature). Reach out any time!

      Glad you like the tool!

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    over 3 years ago #

    Hi Kobie: Looking forward to your growth hacking sprint tomorrow :)

    Thanks for leading this AMA.

    Imagine your are a founding stage startup entrepreneur working on a minimal viable product to validate product/market fit as quickly as possible on a shoestring budget. And you need to understand the relative importance of the following levers of growth to focus on the right thing:

    #1 The design of your product from an aesthetic standpoint (UI)
    #2 The design of your product from a usability standpoint (UX)
    #3 The unique value proposition of your product in the eyes of what you believe to be your core target customer

    On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is not important at all and 10 is very important, how would you rank each item above?

    • KF

      Kobie Fuller

      over 3 years ago #

      This probably not helpful, but:
      #1 - 7
      #2 - 10
      #3 - 10

      • AL

        Arsene Lavaux

        over 3 years ago #

        It is helpful.

        Glad to see lower score on #1 and #2 and #3, I believe, cannot be really dissociated so it makes sense.

        Merci!

  • DS

    Daniel Sosa

    over 3 years ago #

    Hey Kobie - Thank you very much for your time and attention.

    As an investor, what are your views on an early stage startup looking to go straight into a seed round to help the founders stay afloat while finding product market fit and proving a model?

    Are we best keeping our day jobs and going slow? or if we see an opportunity should we seek financial assistance to allow us to pursue it?

    • KF

      Kobie Fuller

      over 3 years ago #

      Going to tell you a lot you probably already know here:
      - Very much a personal decision
      - A lot of this depends on your risk tolerance (quit a stable paying job to jump into the uncertain abyss)
      - Trust your gut
      - If you are not passionate about the venture you will always find an excuse not to dive in
      - If you really want it, success will take 110%!
      - You will need to go fast!
      - Try to do some sort of smoke test to at least mitigate risk

      Good luck!

  • AS

    Alex Sherstinsky

    over 3 years ago #

    Thanks a lot @kobiefuller for taking time to do this AMA with us!

    1) What should be the length of the sales cycle for a MarTech company servicing Fortune 1000 businesses?
    2) Assuming that inside sales is the main fulfillment vehicle, what quota should a rep carry?

    If these questions are not the right way of thinking, please clarify.

    Thank you!

    • KF

      Kobie Fuller

      over 3 years ago #

      Tough to say what the sales cycle should be...large enterprise deals can take a *really* long time and take many touch points...small PAYG transactions are consumer like in nature.

      Honestly, this is how I look at how martech needs to be sold:
      1. Martech is "bought" not "sold." Smart marketers these days rely on peer validation / recommendation
      2. Integration needs to be quick and easy
      3. Time to value needs to be fast
      4. ROI needs to be clearly measurable

      The more complex the integration, length to see value and difficulty to measure value the greater the potential impact should be for marketers to even care...(ie build a customer data wharehouse, etc.)

      Also, no magic number for quotas but $750K+ is not an unreasonable range depending...

      Looking at your question another way, I typically like to look for go-to-market models where CAC payback (sales and marketing) on a GAAP basis is 12 months or less and on a cash basis (assuming contracts paid upfront) is immediate.

      2 Share
  • AB

    Aleksandar Bibovski

    over 3 years ago #

    Thanks so much for the AMA Kobie.
    As you are the part of Accel Partners and Growthverse and you're familiar with many early stage startups let me ask you:

    What are the biggest marketing mistakes startups make trying to find product/market fit?

    And what was the best marketing or growth strategy you were involved in? (also it would be nice if we can get some analytics from this)

    • KF

      Kobie Fuller

      over 3 years ago #

      Biggest mistakes are frankly not spend enough time with customers (or potential customers) to understand their pain points and what problem they are looking to solve. Additionally, not spending enough time on product marketing so that customers can actually understand what the product does.

      Not sure I can point to one single marketing or growth strategy. I usually find there are no silver bullets...highlights I will touch on though are:
      - Integrating customer lifetime value fully into how we managed the customer lifecycle (from email acquisition all the way to high value customer). For instance, we created predictive segments that allowed us to identify customers as they were potentially deviating from the historical purchasing behavior. Don't have the stats handy but we were able to jack up revenue from returning customers in a serious manner - helped materially move our growth rate (off of a large base)
      - Predicting future influencers and cost effectively using them in our marketing / merchandising (Emrata, Iggy Azalea, etc.). Helped elevate REVOLVE brand in a major way!

      2 Share
  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    over 3 years ago #

    Bonjour again Kobie: I'd have another question closer to the user experience.

    As we often discuss it in this inspiring GH community, a key challenge to a startup entrepreneur is to find as quickly as possible product-market fit.

    And most of the time, you have to achieve this on scarce resources.

    Along those lines, when looking to gather user experience feedback from what you believe to be the core user with the core unmet need you are looking to solve for, you may not want to invest too much time in having an app hitting the store before getting user feedback.

    As such, I was wondering if you'd be aware of products that would allow coders to simply upload their hard-coded prototype code (upload Objective-C or Swift code from XCode for example) directly into a UX service for rapid feedback.

    Without the need to have an active app store link, without the need to share any screenshots of the prototype or even wireframes if that applies.

    Thanks for inspiring us @kobiefuller !

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 3 years ago #

    Hi Kobie

    Clearly from what we can see in Growthverse and from this (now infamous) infographic: http://cdn.chiefmartec.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/martech_jan2014_to_jan2015.gif - the options available to startup are already overwhelming.

    Categorization is great but its not hard to see how first time entrepreneurs might be confused as to where to even begin.

    So is there a framework you have in mind where you believe that:
    At start: startups focus on (tools in (categories 1,2 and 3 because your immediate need/goal will by xyz
    When you've reached a stage that tells you something specific (qualitative/quantitative), then move to categories 4,5 and 6 because now you need to know abc... and so on.

    If yes, could you share what you believe founders might consider at:
    a. Starting out (say, when you're at a 10 user stage) and
    b. 100+ users through Pre PMF
    c. Any other consideration based on # of users/growth stage

    Thanks!

  • SP

    Steven Pesavento

    over 3 years ago #

    Thanks for joining us today.

    In the world of marketing technology what innovations do you see coming down the line that Marketers should keep their eyes open for?

  • JM

    Jason Meresman

    over 3 years ago #

    Hi @kobiefuller!

    With so many MarTech companies offering point solutions, which companies do you think are best positioned to become the "glue" that will tie them all together?

  • JH

    Jim Huffman

    over 3 years ago #

    Hey Kobie - thanks for doing this.

    What marketing platforms/channels are you the most excited about right now?

    • KF

      Kobie Fuller

      over 3 years ago #

      My pleasure!

      Will sound like a broken record here, but personally excited for whoever creates
      - Jira for marketers
      - True customer data platform that can orchestrate all marketing actions (1:1, 1:many, 1:All across all push marketing channels - email, mobile push, social, web, print)

      Also biased, I am really excited about the opportunity that exists in better managing inbound calls (investor in www.invoca.com). Call volume is growing dramatically YOY (mobile search, click to call) but there are very few tools that integrate this touch point in an automated manner into the customer profile. I literally have seen companies overnight build multi million dollar consumer business based on this immediate arb opportunity...

      3 Share
  • DD

    Deandre Durr

    over 3 years ago #

    Hey Kobie

    1. What was your fastest time in the 100m?

    I feel that former athletes have an advantage over everyone else in their next career of choice. Because they know how to construct a daily, weekly, and monthly plan. That can take them from where they are, to where they want to be as fast as possible.

    i.e-You becoming captain of the Harvard Track Team :-)

    2. If you were to construct a daily routine to become the best growth hacker (marketer) what would it be? and what skills would you possess?

    • KF

      Kobie Fuller

      over 3 years ago #

      1. My 100 wasn't that great (10.8 in high school - wasn't great out of the blocks). 200M was 21.1 and 400M 46.5

      Agree with you on the athlete advantage - super hard work :)

      Thanks for the kind words.

      2. This is a tough question but will take a stab at things I typically focused on either daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly
      - Each day first thing I did when I woke up was check stats from prior day (what I did while CMO at REVOLVE). Tried to parse out any signs of early trends, warning signs, opportunities. I also looked at the prior day's best sellers (helped me understand the product in a much deeper manner - over time I could almost feel the "pulse" of our customer base and what they were buying). Some may feel this is too micro but I found it helped me understand the product (40K SKUS) in an incredible manner.
      - Huge believer in agile (certified scrum master) so my day is usually already planned out given whatever is defined from the weekly sprint planning meeting. Much of the activity is focused on incremental improvement in channels that are working, testing of new channels, routine conversations with peers to learn from them, people management.
      - Huge believer in OKRs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OKR). Helped keep my team and I focus. The entire department down to each subgroup had their respective OKRs that they were managed against
      - Once per week always find the time to demo a new tool or learn about a new martech product. Unless you make the effort you will not keep up.
      - Always be testing
      - Continually retrospect on whats working well, whats not and upcoming adjustments
      - Keep track of your impediments and constantly focus on removing them (will allow you to run faster!)

  • HQ

    Hila Qu

    over 3 years ago #

    Hi Kobie, thanks for doing this, what is your vision in how the future marketing organization will be like? How is it different from now?

  • EY

    Eslam Yosef

    over 3 years ago #

    Hi Kobie, thanks for doing this.

    My question is, if you have a small up an coming website (e.g. blog) and you want to partner with another big blog that you love and believe you've got a win-win partnership idea - should you wait until your blog grows up some or should you take the step right away? If it is the latter, what's the best way you would recommend to go about doing that?

    • KF

      Kobie Fuller

      over 3 years ago #

      Usually those types of relationships need to be two way streets (partner where the goal is an email or traffic swap, etc.). If one party is much larger than the other usually the smaller one brings something unique to the table (like being a cool / up and coming destination that gives the larger site street cred, etc.).

      Net/net, needs to truly be win-win or else you have to pay to play (at least in my experience).

  • TS

    Terence Strong

    over 3 years ago #

    Kobie...thanks for doing this!

    Based on the companies that you have invested in, what is the percentage that have failed after achieving product market fit (best estimate)?

  • TS

    Terence Strong

    over 3 years ago #

    What is the best way to compete in a competitive e-commerce space (particularly subscription beauty products)?

  • KA

    karim Abd El Kader

    over 3 years ago #

    Thanks a lot @kobiefuller for taking time to do this AMA.

    I am a growth lead of one of the biggest VCs in the middle east; i find it very interesting to do a transactional marketplace whereby women can buy and sell their used clothes using my platform and i get a commission from each transaction and i will work delivering the items to buyers:

    - Please tell me what do u think about this business model and what are the advantages, flaws of it as well as what are the key factors and dynamics that i should put emphasis to when it comes to building such business.

    - Also, it will be great tell me other rising and innovative digital business models related to fashion and clothing.

    - For a fashion clothing business, what will be the key marketing technologies that i should be using.

    many thanks,
    K.

  • AP

    Anthony Panepinto

    over 3 years ago #

    Hey @kobiefuller, thanks so much for doing this AMA!

    I'm sure that you have a wealth of experience in growth from working with many startups and their marketing teams, also being the author of Growthverse :). One question,

    1. We've just launched venuevortex.com (connecting event planners with top quality venues), and we haven't had much luck with the paid marketing channels, specifically social (Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads etc...). Conversion to us means getting users to send venues requests. What marketing channels would you recommend for our venture?

    Cheers!
    Anthony

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