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Sridharan Ravichandran (Sridhar) is Senior Product Manager, Growth at SoundCloud.

He's worked on User Growth for the last 7 years in early at mid and late-stage startups across APAC, Europe and the US.

He set up and led the first Growth & Integrations team within SoundCloud focussed on user acquisition, retention and lifecycle mechanics which grew fast from 2 to 12 people consisting of senior engineers, data analysts, senior designers and community reps.

He's been the PM of Embeddable/Widget products, Mobile Web, SEO, Integrations with partners including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google and others. He's also been the PM for past projects on user activation, retention and internationalization.

Currently, Sridhar’s team, based in NYC is responsible for growing the SoundCloud platform’s adoption globally. Prior to NYC, he lived in Berlin helping growing SoundCloud from a few dozen to over 300 employees across offices in Berlin, London, New York City and San Francisco. 

He is an active musician and producer with 3 album releases for his solo project Sridhar and plays guitar in Brooklyn based indie band LANTRNS.

Sridhar graduated with a Bachelors degree in Bio-Engineering (honours) from the National University of Singapore and a specialization in Business Foundations from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He holds a certification in Songwriting from the Berklee College of Music, Boston. 

Sridhar on 

  • VV

    Vishnu Vankayala

    over 1 year ago #

    Hey Sridhar

    Thanks for doing this AMA. Could you share your views on analytics tools you use and is there any machine learning techniques you use to profile and segment users for retention?

    • PS

      peter sandor

      over 1 year ago #

      Hi Vishnu, I am sharing here a google doc a huge list of online tools -- split into 17 categories.

      https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1I56Atkh8cjCJS1Ylmenh-SOg4xn4bLL3uhwzNjDvMxM/edit?usp=sharing

      Very glad to help the community grow here together !

      • SR

        Sridhar Ravichandran

        over 1 year ago #

        Sure. We’ve run the gamut of tools from Google Analytics to Localytics to bespoke web analytics providers in the past. Nowadays, 70-80% of my analytics needs are satisfied by our internal stack which is an Amazon Redshift -> Tableau model. For deeper dives or an outside-in perspective I’d employ tools like AppAnnie, Alexa or SimilarWeb. Also, Growthverse is a great resource.

        We don’t do predictive machine-learning based targeting if that was what you were implying. Not to say we won’t do so in the future though.

        3 Share
      • VV

        Vishnu Vankayala

        over 1 year ago #

        Thanks Sridhar. Very nice document.

  • AP

    Anthony Panepinto

    over 1 year ago #

    Hey @sridhar_ravichandran,

    What are/were your key growth hacks at SoundCloud that really helped SoundCloud grow, cost-effectively?

    As a startup founder I know that creativity is a key ingredient to successfully growing and marketing a new company, could you offer me one specific tip/trick that I could use to help grow our venue discovery platform venuevortex.com ? It could be super simple whatever comes to mind!

    Cheers!
    Anthony

    • SR

      Sridhar Ravichandran

      over 1 year ago #

      Anthony, I wish I had an exciting growth hack for you but reality is a bit boring - nothing beats solving a real market need. In SoundCloud’s case, that was filling a gap in the audio/music creator ecosystem that was begging to be done both functionally and aesthetically, with the creator at the core. It helped that the team starting from the CTO are deep product thinkers. A good product is your foundation for hyper growth.

      Since you’re at an early stage company, I’d stay tightly focussed on finding that product-market fit which will be that foundation, and you probably don’t need a dedicated growth person (everyone should be thinking about growth).

      Who is your product for? Can you focus on a specific segment first instead of everyone? One of my favorite books on the subject is Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore - highly recommended.

      4 Share
  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    over 1 year ago #

    Hi Sridhar, really excited that you are doing this AMA with us - thanks!

    I noticed that you started in Product Marketing at SoundClound before transitioning to your current role as Sr. PM Growth. This seems to be a pretty common background for PMs of Growth. Why do you think that is? What are the similarities between being a PM Growth and a Product Marketing Manager?

    • SR

      Sridhar Ravichandran

      over 1 year ago #

      Thanks for having me Sean, and thanks also for your continued contribution to the growth community!

      That’s a good question, I think the overlap is minimal to be honest. A Product Marketer is deeply involved at two points of the product development cycle - the start (requirements gathering) & the finish (GTM).

      The Product Manager is involved through that entire cycle (and beyond) and is typically more detail-oriented, visionary and with influencing ability to drive that vision through every function in the organization.

      I've seen this vary depending on the company, but in most product-centric organizations, the buck usually stops with the product person. All the blame or all the glory I guess!

      6 Share
      • CC

        Cyndi Chen

        over 1 year ago #

        Thanks for this explanation! What kind of skills would you suggest a person develop to transition from one position to the other?

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 1 year ago #

    Hey Sridhar

    Thanks for taking the time to do this.

    I know that SoundCloud has a Retention team under Andy Carvell (for anyone who hasn't seen it - great talk by him here: https://growthhackers.com/videos/video-mobile-growth-hacking-andy-carvell-soundcloud/)

    I assume then that there are many other such teams within the company as well.

    How do all of these teams communicate with each other and you? In other words, how are all these growth-related teams structured hierarchically and why is it that way?

    • SR

      Sridhar Ravichandran

      over 1 year ago #

      Thanks for having me, Anuj! Awesome to be here and keen to give and take from the GH community. RE: Retention, that is correct and Andy has some great content up on his Medium.

      It is a fairly recent development to split up the ‘Growth Umbrella’ into individual feature teams. The initial growth team that I was in was eventually came across too many products, projects, features and technical debt that it started tearing away at the ethos of our team which is to move fast and iterate. So, we split it up into leaner focus areas.

      In terms of communication, we’re still learning to do this better as it’s early but E-mails, Gdocs, Slack, regular metrics & roadmap reviews are working well and I’d recommend them.

      3 Share
  • HQ

    Hila Qu

    over 1 year ago #

    Hi Sridhar,

    Thanks very much for the AMA.

    The growthhackers team compiled 3 must-ask questions representing the interests of our community members, and we will post them for each AMA guest. You are our first guest, very excited to see your insight.

    GH Must-Ask
    1) From your own experience, what is your one piece of career advice for:
    a) A newbie who’s interested in a career in growth?
    b) For an experienced growth professional who’s looking to advance their career?

    • SR

      Sridhar Ravichandran

      over 1 year ago #

      Glad to be here, Hila and thanks for the questions, keep them coming.

      a) Be a hacker at heart and try and test everything. But don’t be too scrappy in the early stages of a company - you don’t have to beat the efficient frontier (cue in Markovitz) but you definitely do have to come close to be able to convince the user that your product is great. You might have to find your way into growth like I did, or get hired straight into a growth team but your mindset and approach is critical. See points above re: the trifecta of growth. Also, aim to prove yourself wrong. Are you driving sustainable growth? Your product may be driving growth for example, but how is your customer satisfaction? How is customer support volume? etc. Finally, tie it back to the business needs, and don’t look at it purely in terms of your team’s metrics.

      b) I’m a bit biased here, but I always try and work on products I love and use and I’ve been lucky to have that in most jobs I’ve had. There used to be a bit of a misnomer in silicon valley that the growth person is a cold-hearted spreadsheet ninja but I’m glad to see that slowly changing. It all comes back to the product-market fit. You need to use and love the product, and empathize with user needs to achieve remarkable traction.

      I’m keen to hear from the group here as well.

      4 Share
  • GD

    Guerric de Ternay

    over 1 year ago #

    Hello Sridhar,

    Thanks for doing this. I have a few questions for you:

    - What is a difference between PM in Growth and classic PM?

    - How did you make the transition from Product Marketing Manager to Product Manager?

    • HQ

      Hila Qu

      over 1 year ago #

      Great question @Guerric Also, to add on this:

      What are some mindset/habits for a highly effective PM for growth, how are those different from a classic PM or a classic marketing manager?

      • SR

        Sridhar Ravichandran

        over 1 year ago #

        Great questions, keep them coming.

        - In my view, a good growth person is like a good wealth manager - one who understands a) the user and market dynamics, b) compounding effects and c) risk:reward ratios (the trifecta of growth). A general PM can have these skills too, but they're are not critical to their success. As a Growth PM, your primary focus is to drive usage of your product - the trifecta is critical.

        - Transitioning from PMM to PM was pretty seamless, as SoundCloud is a product centric company. Combining Marketing and Product skill sets into Growth was an obvious path for us. In terms of individual skillsets, see response above to Sean about PM vs PMM.

        2 Share
  • PS

    peter sandor

    over 1 year ago #

    Hi Sridhar,

    Thank for your time. Im curios to know what you think about emerging markets in particular -- India. While I'm doing some research on our target audience, I find that the country as a whole as very different customs and standards and the way they engage with the internet. Would you use the same methodology and tactics as you would in a more advanced geolocation? (USA, Europe)

    Thank you !

    • SR

      Sridhar Ravichandran

      over 1 year ago #

      I think it depends. India is interesting with mobile penetration and huge upside, with only ~20% of the population having access to the internet.

      If your focus is only on the emerging markets, then it would make sense to pay attention to local trends, customs and standards. However, the reason I said it depends is because if your growth strategy involves includes global usage, being hyper local from day 1 can work against you. But there are examples of companies for and against the theory so it depends on your business model and path to sustainable growth.

      In SoundCloud's case, we're a global company but with a clear focus on the top markets for music/audio.

  • AB

    Aleksandar Bibovski

    over 1 year ago #

    Hi Sridhar, thank you for AMA! As you are very experienced PM and from your experience I can see that you succeeded in establishing strong partnership with great companies.

    Do you have some piece of advice for establishing strong partnerships with bigger companies? Do you use some 'techniques' to create/brainstorm win-win situation for both sides in partnerships? How do you approach big players when you want to talk about potential partnership?

    • SR

      Sridhar Ravichandran

      over 1 year ago #

      This is one that's as elusive as that product-market fit topic. Typically, partnerships start with relationships but when it comes down to the integration points you need to try and understand the perspective of the other and how you can 'hook' into their vision to create that ideal outcome for both parties. Contextualize it in a way that's great for the partner's userbase as well - it becomes hard to say no after a while.

  • LW

    Levi Wigchert

    over 1 year ago #

    Hi Sridhar,

    Thanks for doing this AMA!

    My friends and me just released a service on top of Soundcloud called Mixmatic (http://mixmatic.io) which lets you choose a music genre and in return gives you a random mix to listen to.

    None of us have a product management or growth background or something similar.

    Are there any specific tips as a service on top of Soundcloud you can give us to grow?

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    over 1 year ago #

    Hey Sridhar,

    Thanks for doing this AMA. A couple of questions for you:

    1) How are the growth teams structured/organized at SoundCloud and how do they work with the other teams like marketing/engineering/etc.?

    2) How do you guys think about growth experiments across your multiple audiences (different countries) and multiple channels (web, mobile web, apps)?

    Thanks!

    • SR

      Sridhar Ravichandran

      over 1 year ago #

      1) Growth reports into Product, and we're in lock step with each other going through the same quarterly planning cycles. The individuals within growth report into their respective line functions (Director of Eng, Design, Community, Data etc.) and this helps keep the Growth team tightly co-ordinated with the rest of the company.

      2) We split tests either based on global user %s or based on geography. With the right analysis framework in place, both approaches are valid. Cross-platform attribution is tricky so we try and contain most of our tests on individual platforms.

      4 Share
  • KA

    karim Abd El Kader

    over 1 year ago #

    Hello Sridhar,

    Thanks for doing this AMA.

    I am very curious on how we can use widgets and partnerships to grow:
    - Publishers.
    - General Classifieds sites.
    - E-commerce sites.

  • SP

    Steven Pesavento

    over 1 year ago #

    Sridhar, thanks for joining us today on GrowthHackers. From your experience scaling a growth team:
    1. What have you found the most difficult part & what strategies have you developed to overcome or cope with these?
    2. How would you recommend structuring a new growth team to scale in the future?

    • SR

      Sridhar Ravichandran

      over 1 year ago #

      1) Once staffed, establishing a cadence of validating, shipping, testing, learning and repeating is one of the hardest parts of setting up a well-oiled growth machine. The flow frequently breaks (especially in a fast growing company, hence the irony :) and you have to work hard to keep things on track.

      2) Start small, and start lean. Build a roadmap of things you want to achieve first and then staff the team with the right skillsets, not the other way around. If I had to throw an initial mix out there, I'd say 1-2 engineers, a designer, a channel optimisation expert (SEO/ASO/Email) and a PM. Everyone in the team should buy into the growth vision and mission.

      3 Share
  • HQ

    Hila Qu

    over 1 year ago #

    GH Must-Ask 2)
    From past or current teams, do you have a particular growth experiment that was either a big win or a big learning experience that you can share with us?

  • HQ

    Hila Qu

    over 1 year ago #

    GH Must-Ask 3)
    What are some things you do/ places you check out outside of work, to get inspirations for growth and work?

    • SR

      Sridhar Ravichandran

      over 1 year ago #

      My weekly reading list usually includes the classic VC blogs, growth folks on Twitter, ProductHunt, GrowthHackers, Andrew Chen amidst others. I’d love to hear from the community on their favorite resources.

      In terms of day to day inspiration though, it usually comes from one of four sources - (a) data (b) product or (c) conversations with other teams (d) conversations with users/Twitter in no particular order.

  • SG

    Siddharth Gopi

    over 1 year ago #

    Hi Sridhar, i've managed to come up with these bunch of questions for this AMA:

    1) Do you have a CS background/do you code? how important are these to be a quality PM?

    2) Whats your average work day like?

    3) Is there any particular feature or user flow that you got implemented / modified which gave you really good results?

    4) Could you run us through your analytics stack? (For the soundcloud mobile apps also if you could.)

    5) Could you run us through the kind of paid user acquisitions you run for soundcloud? And how do you measure ROI for these? Which channel has been the most effective?

    6) What are some of the blogs/news aggregators/etc that you follow?

    • SG

      Siddharth Gopi

      over 1 year ago #

      To expand on 4), could you also share with us the KPIs that you monitor more closely than the others.

      • SR

        Sridhar Ravichandran

        over 1 year ago #

        Sure will try to answer as many as possible, some have already been tackled before.

        1) PM and CS: Am an Engineering grad and spent a lot of time dabbling in code, but I would not call myself a coder. Am on the fence with this one, I think being an engineer helps you ramp-up faster/command the respect of engineers to work on things, but I’ve seen/worked with some amazing technical and non-technical PMs in the past.

        2) Early meetings with remote offices, Emails, Standup, Unblocking my team cross-functionally, Growth Strategy, Metrics reviews, Product Roadmap, Emails, Fire fighting (if any), Lots of coffee. And squeeze in some Medium/Twitter when I get a 10 minute slot.

        6) has been answered earlier. The other questions would break confidentiality so apologies that I can’t go deeper.

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    over 1 year ago #

    Hi Sridhar,

    Since you have been exposed to the startup world both in the U.S. and in Europe, what do you see as similarities and as differences between the two?

    • SR

      Sridhar Ravichandran

      over 1 year ago #

      Lots of debate on this one as always - my view is that it’s nuanced, with the caveat that I haven’t personally raised a round for my company yet. European companies (and hence entrepreneurs) are subject to some of the most stringent data protection and data privacy laws in the world. As a result, the successful entrepreneurs are typically more creative and resilient than their US counterparts.

      I’m still relatively new to living in the US inspite of having spent a lot of time here, and it’s obvious that the US has the most sophisticated venture capital and tech talent market in the world.

      Europe is catching up fast though, and Fred Wilson recently wrote about how USV currently has 22% of it’s portfolio in European companies - no better sign of progress than that. Also, Berlin is an amazing city to live in so that has to factor in.

      3 Share
  • AG

    Amol Ghemud

    over 1 year ago #

    Hey Sridhar

    Thanks for doing this AMA. Do you think approach to Growth can differ in developed and developing countries? (because of internet penetration and dependency on offline activity) .If Yes, What advice you have for growth marketers in India?

  • DS

    Deepanshu Suhag

    over 1 year ago #

    Hey Sridhar, thanks for doing this.

    How would you grow an app that has 10 million downloads to 50 million - specifically on Android?
    Also are there any strategies to effectively leverage your desktop traffic for app downloads?

  • LS

    Logan Stoneman

    over 1 year ago #

    Hey Sridhar!

    Is there a certain subset of users that you look to for requests or comments on future product development? Or do you look to the whole population of users?

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