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Adam Fishman is currently the VP of Growth at WyzAnt tutoring, the largest private tutoring marketplace in the U.S. with over 75,000 tutors and millions of lessons. Prior to that he started and led Growth at Lyft for 2.5 years, taking them from zero rides to tens of millions across 70+ cities and $300+ million in funding. He is a Tradecraft mentor and an an advisor to multiple startups on the topics of growth, operations and culture. One of his most recent articles on building and operating a Growth team can be found here: https://medium.com/@fish/five-tenets-of-a-successful-growth-team-1ee76ac4ca74 You can find him on medium @fish and Twitter @fishmanaf.

  • AF

    Adam Fishman

    about 4 years ago #

    Really excited to answer everyone's questions. Don't hold back!

  • JM

    Justin Mares

    about 4 years ago #

    Adam, awesome to see that you're doing an AMA. I have 2 questions for you...

    1. When you were managing the growth team at Lyft, what is 1 process or management procedure that you implemented that had a really strong positive impact?

    2. Do you use any hair product, or does it look that good naturally?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      @justinmares I knew you'd show up to troll me :-).

      1. We kept our meetings to a minimum and did daily standups for supply and demand. As a company we grew so fast that often people lost some connection with the bigger picture so I'd sync up with the entire team once/week to keep them up to speed on what was happening with the company (since we had a 20-person team keeping everyone aligned was super important). The team really appreciated this and it kept us operating at a very high level.

      2. All natural :-)

  • ND

    Nate Desmond

    about 4 years ago #

    Excited to have you on here Adam!

    I think even more than we often realize, first impressions have an outsized impact on long-term engagement (1). What have you done - particularly on the tutor/driver side - to make that first experience awesome?

    (1) Andrew Chen's recent post on app retention has some interesting data on this point: http://andrewchen.co/new-data-shows-why-losing-80-of-your-mobile-users-is-normal-and-that-the-best-apps-do-much-better/

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      Hey @natedesmond good to see you! Great question and I completely agree with your statement on first impressions. Both Lyft and WyzAnt do a ton in service of the supply side (drivers and tutors).

      Tutors: We have a high-potential tutor team that we've started pretty recently. Think of it like a customer success team for tutors - they reach out to tutors directly and provide them with some tips and tactics from other top tutors to help them jumpstart their business.

      Drivers: In the earlier (and adolescent days) we spent a lot of time with drivers getting them up to speed on the Lyft brand. This included everything from community activities to the now-retired fist bump. It seems silly, but it's what got drivers to feel really passionate and loyal to the Lyft brand.

      For students the first match with a tutor is so important that we've spent a lot of energy on that process -- onboarding, customer service, understanding preferences, etc. It goes a long way.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    about 4 years ago #

    Hey @fishmanaf - thanks so much for doing this AMA. Lots of questions already, but I'll throw a couple into the ring too.

    1) How much time does your team at Wyzant spend trying to find new ways to grow and how do you guys approach this new channel discovery.

    2) Did the Lyft team spend much time thinking about Uber? From my experience, I've found a well entrenched competitor can be very good for team cohesion and motivation. Curious if you saw Uber as a positive motivator to the team, a negative distraction or something you guys really didn't spend much time thinking about.

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      Sure @sean .

      1. This particular "term" (we divide the year into 3 parts) we're focused a lot on some of our core channels and experimenting within them. So we're always experimenting, but sometimes it's within channels that already have proven value and sometimes it's brand new areas for us. We approach this in a very straightforward way -- research, data, hypothesis generation, lightweight experimentation, learning. Lather, rinse repeat.

      2. We spent time thinking about what our differentiating factors were, but not a ton of time looking at their business. Culturally they're a very different company so sometimes we thought about it as a battle between good (Lyft) and evil (Uber). I think Lyft and Uber have very different missions and are focused on different things even though they both give people rides. We certainly used their size as a motivating factor -- they are the 800lb gorilla, but in reality Lyft is doing really well as the #2 in this space.

      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        about 4 years ago #

        Awesome, thanks for the answers... Makes a lot of sense to have a focus area for a specific time period. @bbalfour also advocates this, but I've never tried it. I'll definitely be trying it soon though.

        • AF

          Adam Fishman

          about 4 years ago #

          Yeah, for us this is really important because there are so many different vertical areas we could be spending time on. It's a way for me to get alignment across the organization and say, "We can't work on that right now because we're spending time on these priorities."

        • CB

          Charlie Benkendorf

          about 4 years ago #

          As one example, at Anova we run 45-90 day blocks with a theme for whole company. Then whenever we have some new idea, we can run it against how well it fits in the theme.

  • CJ

    Cody Juric

    about 4 years ago #

    This is great Adam!

    Here's a questions for you:

    From your experiences, what have you learned about the necessary efforts in the first week and first month at an early stage company? What is essential to execute/figure out in the first week and/or month, especially when setting up analytics?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      @cjuric Thanks for asking. This is something I just went through having recently joined WyzAnt a few months ago. It'd been with Lyft so long I forgot what it was like to "figure out" a new role.

      Understanding your customers, their needs, and what motivates them is the #1 thing you should get a grasp on in your first week. In fact, you should have a good grasp on this before you walk in the door. If the answers aren't available, then that's where you need to start adding analytics, interviews, etc. This is really an ongoing journey -- especially as you start running experiments. It's much more important to understand "Why" someone did something than Experiment A beat your control by 10%.

      • BT

        Brandon Tome

        about 4 years ago #

        Hi @fishmanaf - What does the first hour of your day look like? Do you have any specific routines/tasks that you've found to help optimize your day/productivity? Thanks again for your candid answers thus far, they've been really great to hear!

        • AF

          Adam Fishman

          about 4 years ago #

          @btome808 Great question. This is something I'm still improving. My week actually starts with an assessment of my priorities and goals and whether everything I have on my calendar will help me achieve those. I tend to be pretty aggressive on Sundays about canceling or excusing myself from activities that aren't going to have an impact on our team's metrics.

          The first hour of the day (before I get to the office) is spent eating a really healthy breakfast, spending some time with my family, and reading articles on my way into work. I will also do another assessment of my day to establish what I need to get done that day and whether I need to adjust any of my work. I keep a running list of "Must Do" activities, backlog activities, and delegated activities and try to get through all of my Must Do activities at the beginning part of the day when I'm the freshest.

          Hope that helps!

  • ME

    Michael Eckstein

    about 4 years ago #

    My question is on growth marketing as a career.

    There are so many different facets of growth and people often refer to the 'full stack marketer'. For someone who works in the SaaS space and has developed a broad digital marketing skill set, but not necessarily deep enough to be a 100% true expert in any one area (eg email, CRO, social etc) would you recommend focusing on specific skills or continuing to broaden to further a career in growth?

    I'm considering whether I should expand my technical expertise - programming, working with databases, general stats / math etc.

    Or should I stick with my current skill set and hone my craft?

    Thanks Adam!

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      @mikeeckstein I love this question and it's one I talk to a lot of people about.

      My pal @bbalfour who just did an AMA last week some great articles on becoming an expert in different areas of marketing and growth (http://www.coelevate.com/). My thoughts on this topic don't differ very much -- if you have a broad skillset it's time to start to FOCUS. I don't know of many people at a growth-stage company who write a job description and think, "Ya know, what I'd really like is someone who knows a little bit about everything, but isn't really good at one particular thing." Nope. Doesn't happen. If you have a broad background and can wow people with deep knowledge in a 1 or 2 specific areas then you are infinitely more marketable. B2B, B2C, B2B2C... doesn't really matter. So my answer is focus.

      Technical expertise is a big plus these days -- at least for the people I'm hiring. If you're not self-sufficient at getting your own data then you're already in a bit of a hole. You don't need to write code, but a solid grasp of SQL is a good start.

  • TW

    Terry Whalen

    about 4 years ago #

    Great stuff coming from a very experienced growth hacker (and all-around great guy)!

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      @sumdigitalsf Thanks Terry. If you're looking for a great, lightweight agency to help you get some initiatives off the ground (specifically on Google or Facebook)... Terry and SumDigital is your guy!

  • JA

    James Allen

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi Adam, thanks for doing this! I'm working with a company that recruits and places international high school students in U.S. schools and with homestay families. Like WyzAnt, we're self-funded and are working to make the world a better place.

    What are some of the most effective practices and channels you and your team use to attract students and quality educators to WyzAnt?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      What we use now (10 years into the business) is a lot different than what we used in the beginning from what I understand. We have very strong SEO and Paid Search programs that we have built up over many years. This is really important because our core platform for tutoring is based on local, in-person lessons. Search of all flavors is great for this stuff. When we were getting started we did a lot of boots-on-the-ground type of activities including posting signs up on phone poles, attending conferences, creating a lightweight “sales” team, etc.

      Your business strikes me as one that would have a longer sales cycle but also one where there isn’t a lot of great, authoritative information. Could lend itself well to both search for lead capture as well as content marketing.

      Also, I would recommend looking at ways to amplify word of mouth from your successful placements. Seems like they could go back to their home country and have a lot to talk about.

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    about 4 years ago #

    Hey Adam, thanks so much for doing this AMA. As someone with a ton of experience building really successful marketplaces, how do you think about:

    1) Building supply for the marketplace, and any interesting ways you've gone about doing that finding tutors or drivers, for instance.

    2) When you think about growth of a marketplace, from an organizational perspective, how do you build the growth teams and align resources/headcount/etc. to both demand and supply sides?

    Thanks!

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      Hey @morgan good questions:

      1. Building supply - I mentioned above about the importance (and cost effectiveness) of job boards. That's pretty important and to the extent that you can get into the organic listings on a site like Indeed then that really helps. Referral is also really, really big for marketplace businesses -- generally if someone finds a cool "job" or money making opportunity they want to tell their friends. It's more fun to "work" with your friends too so I think this is why referral is so powerful. One interesting story about how we found our first drivers in LA (Lyft's 2nd market) was looking at acting schools. Who has tons of free time and needs a side-job in LA? Aspiring actors. So we built a list of every acting school in the greater Los Angeles area, emailed them all, and got tons of additional shares, posts, etc. from the leaders of the schools. We were swimming in driver applicants.

      2. Organizing growth teams at marketplaces - this is one that I'm not sure I have completely figured out yet, but we built ours at Lyft first on the supply side and then added folks on the demand side when we needed to. My team there grew very organically based on where we were finding pockets of success -- we'd incubate an idea, experiment with it, and then usually hire someone to own it as a new channel. At WyzAnt, since we have a solid supply base we're a bit more focused on the demand side and the team is organized based on different vertical areas of focus. So right now we're working on SEO and Referral as a platform. We're also building some internal tools to make teams a lot more self-sufficient. It's a ton of fun!

      In general I look for people who are T-shaped and very data savvy. Also folks who demonstrate a good business sense -- from analysts, to marketers, to engineers. That last one is really important.

  • AF

    Adam Fishman

    about 4 years ago #

    Okay, I'm fully caffeinated so I think it's time to dive in. I'll start working my way through the existing questions.

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    about 4 years ago #

    This will be good - really looking forward to hearing how Adam goes about building massive marketplaces.

  • LS

    Logan Stoneman

    about 4 years ago #

    Adam! Thanks for hopping on here! Looking forward to your answer this Tuesday...but here's my question:

    I'm currently spearheading growth at an edtech startup. We sell to higher education institutions and are having trouble getting initial introductions to anyone in the tech departments, even for a 10 minute demo.

    What types of marketing have you found most successful for educating users on your platforms/products that resulted in leads/introductions to potential buyers...specifically in the education space?

    And a side random question: Why did you move from Lyft to WyzAnt?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      Hi @loganstoneman, great to have a fellow EdTech pioneer here.

      You have a tough challenge and it's not one that I have a slam-dunk answer for -- especially since I don't know your business. As a starting point, I'd think about whether the tops-down approach is the right way to go. Education institutions are highly bureaucratic and slow moving. I learned a lot about this when I was at Zimride (the precursor to Lyft) because we sold carpooling platforms to universities and big corporations. Getting to a decision maker took a very, very long time and there wasn't always a clear path.

      You can try the consumer-first approach or go directly to the folks benefitting from the day-to-day use of your product. For example, Piazza (https://piazza.com/) is a Q&A platform that targets professors and students. I doubt they tried getting in at the administrative level; or maybe they did without much success. But I've always been a core believer in the grassroots approach or going directly to your customers. Yammer, Slack, and a whole slew of other B2B products have taken this initial approach with much success. Same with Lyft for Work -- we started by asking our customers to bring us to the decision makers in their companies. Worked quite well.

      As to leaving Lyft > WyzAnt. I took about 10 months to do some of my own consulting and advisory work and spend more time with my family. I really enjoyed it, but was looking for something meaningful to work on again. WyzAnt has both distribution and revenue which is pretty rare in the education world. We have some core channels that work really well and a lot of opportunity to introduce new ones and expand. Seemed like a natural fit for me and so far it has been GREAT.

  • BC

    Brad Cahoon

    about 4 years ago #

    Hey Adam, love that this Q&A is even a thing. Thanks for taking the time. My questions...

    1) To what extent were you able to leverage job boards for driver acquisition through the scaling process at Lyft?

    2) At what point (if any) did job boards "cap out" for you guys?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      @iambradcahoon - we leveraged the hell out of job boards :-). It's the most cost-effective channel I've found (aside from referral) for driving the supply-side. The problem is that it doesn't scale past a certain point. You've probably read all the articles about the number of drivers that both Lyft and Uber are bringing online each month. Those are real numbers and job boards alone can't support that type of growth. Also, sites like Craigslist just don't have much penetration in smaller markets so you turn to places like Indeed, Snagajob, etc. even Adwords for job searching. Those scale very well, but the quality is lower so you need to have good data on performance by channel.

      As an example, at Lyft we saw that drivers who came in on referral converted at a very high rate, but didn't drive very much. Job board drivers converted less, but drove more. Seems obvious, but we had the data to prove it and could make decisions accordingly.

      This is a great article that talks about Craigslist in the "on-demand" economy:
      http://fusion.net/story/110386/craigslist-is-the-unsung-hero-of-the-on-demand-economy/

  • VV

    Vishnu Vankayala

    about 4 years ago #

    Hy Adam,

    Thanks very much for doing this. I would like to understand more about the tools you use for growth hacking and where do you think predictive analytics would help growth hackers?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      I've used or built a ton of different tools in my career, a few that stand out:
      - Optimizely (A/B testing)
      - Customer.io (segmented emails)
      - Import.io (scraping and data gathering)
      - Chartio (data visualization)
      - Google Analytics

      Predictive analytics could help I suppose, but I think a lot of companies working on scaling growth don't have a ton of historical data to predict from. More importantly would be using this to understand whether you're on track for your goals by doing real-time forecasting and projections.

      • RS

        Ranee Soundara

        about 4 years ago #

        Hey Adam - sorry, don't mean to hijack this particular thread of the discussion... but im super passionate about predictive/ML-applied martech haha

        So, the last martech startup I was on the founding team of worked towards solving this => how can we use predictive analytics to help marketers/growth teams scale when there isn't a ton of historical data to predict from? specifically, drive retention and reactivate dormant users...

        there are a few different ways we went about this (and to much success of our customers): 1). use existing data from super users to align with new users (little to no data) through onboarding/activation to drive discovery 2). take the most successful cluster models of promotional campaigns and MVT test with these new users on a to gauge their new behavior - and our machine learning engine would track and optimize programmatically...

        but of course, this depends on the startup/biz model/product/team... anyway, the startup is now defunct - but if you're interested in learning more about how predictive analytics/ML can positively impact growth and drive retention, would be happy to have an open chat - it's actually super fascinating :)

        • AF

          Adam Fishman

          about 4 years ago #

          Sounds interesting. I figured some other folks out there might be leveraging this. We are actually doing #1 at WyzAnt currently -- it's really just identifying your best, most retained customers and looking at the characteristics that drive that value. Things like geography, subject, how they answer certain questions, etc. I'm not sure this is predictive analytics though. Always feels more like lead scoring to me.

          • VV

            Vishnu Vankayala

            about 4 years ago #

            Predictive analytics helps you to do it automated way rather you pulling reports for each segment and analysing them.

        • VV

          Vishnu Vankayala

          about 4 years ago #

          You should have a look at CustomerLabs.

          Disclaimer: I'm a founder of the startup. We could catch up?

  • AF

    Adam Fishman

    about 4 years ago #

    That was really fun everyone, thanks to @sean, @morgan and the entire GrowthHackers community for having me! Find me on LinkedIn or Twitter if you have any more questions.

    • SE

      Sean Ellis

      about 4 years ago #

      Thanks so much for the awesome AMA @fishmanaf ! Now go put your hands in an ice bucket until the writer's cramp goes away :)

  • RB

    Ray Beharry

    about 4 years ago #

    Your successes at Lyft and WyzAnt have a strong consumer focus. What would you advise for a b2b startup in the data analytics space?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      I can't make specific recommendations on channels, etc. but understanding your customer and what drives them to success is really important (IMO) for B2B. It's not much different than B2C actually.

  • MR

    Matt Restivo

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi Adam! We all presumably look at our retention curve on a weekly, daily or at least monthly basis-- do you account for the seasonality of a product? If so, how do you do it?

    For example, surely your product isn't as visited in the summer given that many students are off. How does that impact your expectations on retention and your overall strategy?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      Great question @mattrestivo . We definitely have different values for students depending on the time of year that they start their lessons. It impacts a lot of things -- one example is from how much we're willing to bid on search terms.

      The good news for WyzAnt is that we're a 10-year-old company so we have a lot of historical data. We can see whether we're following previous year trends, bucking those trends, or doing worse. We have the luxury of being able to look at YoY performance whereas a lot of companies cannot.

  • AF

    Andrew Froug

    about 4 years ago #

    Hey Adam,

    Thanks for doing this! Already getting a ton of value.

    I'm interested in how your experience in growth has changed as your team size changed.

    You went from being a growth team of one to growing it to 20 people, then did consulting work (where I'm guessing you often had very little help), and are now back to growing a team.

    Besides an ability to just be more agile, what are the advantages you discovered when working by yourself or in tiny teams?

    Said differently, as someone who's a growth team of one, what advantage do I have that I should be pushing to be as effective as possible?

    Thanks, Adam!

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      Hey @andrewfroug thanks for stopping by!

      Usually the growth team of one means that the company is at an earlier stage so you can be a little more risk-loving in your approach. It's a green playing field and you live and die by your efforts, but don't have a lot of other folks involved telling you what not to do. Celebrate that time because if you get really big it goes away for most people :-).

      One thing you really need to focus on when you're a solo growth practitioner at a company is how to better leverage your time. I am a huge fan of oDesk and other outsourcing tools that take away menial tasks which aren't productive uses of my time.

  • PW

    Phil Wolff

    about 4 years ago #

    Failure stories?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      @evanwolf Too many to count Phil. Probably more failures than successes to be honest! I'll write a separate article about this at some point.

  • JS

    Jonathan Sills

    about 4 years ago #

    What are your thoughts on content marketing?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      I think it's a great strategy for the right businesses and business model. Wasn't a big strategy at Lyft, is definitely important at WyzAnt. Anytime the decision making process or purchase cycle is longer and requires more information/thought then this becomes more important.

  • VK

    Victor Korelsky

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi Adam,

    What strategies did you implement to acquire and retain users on the long term ?
    How do market at a local university level ?

    Thank you for your answers !

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      Hi @vkconcept, I missed this one the first time through. A big part of retention comes down to how valuable your product is for people and WHO you're acquiring in the first place. For example, in our space, we could focus on the last-minute test prep student or the student who needs help with elementary math or reading. One of those is a quick-hit solution and one builds a long-term relationship over time.

      Re: university marketing - we don't do much of this at the moment.

  • TD

    Travis Dailey

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi Adam,

    What did you focus on first at WyzAnt after making the move from Lyft?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      My big focus here has been understanding this business inside and out and building my team. Yes it's a marketplace but the needs of our users are very different so our team will look different than it did at Lyft. I've also focused on some areas where we were already doing well but needed to accelerate progress. SEO is a good example of this. Building those early wins and getting a high-performing team and process going is a great starting point.

  • KW

    Katelyn Watson

    about 4 years ago #

    Have you been successful or do you have any advice about using video or more traditional media for growth. It seems that as an early stage company, "looking big" is a big deal and can be accomplished by being smart and using the right tactics. For example, you can now buy TV from hundreds of cable networks by impression just like you do digital media, and targeted as such. Any vendors you like? Success stories? Ideas?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      oh hey @ifonly-com , good to see you. I don't have a ton of experience in buying TV to be honest. I do think there are some interesting things you can do on Youtube with video optimization (it's still like the Wild Wild West there). Tactics very similar to early SEO days. But I'm not a TV maven unfortunately.

  • DA

    Daniel Adeyanju

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi, Thanks for doing this! What are some examples of universal rules of them in generating growth and what are some examples of considerations that are specific to your industry?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      If I'm interpreting your question correctly I think you're looking for what are some growth tactics that universally work and what are ones specific to Ed Tech.

      I don't know that there are universal tactics that work -- and yes, this sounds like a cop out answer, but it's true. I'll repeat what I said above: Understanding your customers and what makes them tick is the key to generating ideas and running experiments. This is always the place to start. Your type of business will dictate what you do with that information.

      For our specific industry (personalized, 1:1, local tutoring) search is pretty important -- we're a local marketplace so doing well in Local Search means good things for our business.

      3 Share
  • KW

    Katelyn Watson

    about 4 years ago #

    Do you think that demand marketing builds supply more than supply marketing builds demand? We have seen that great demand marketing builds supply and vice versa. Any thoughts on this if you can only focus on one?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      I like this question much better @ifonly-com , thanks Katelyn. It depends on the industry. For transportation better supply drives demand. Hands down. The more accessible a driver is to a potential passenger the more likely they are to convert, the shorter the time frame to pickup, etc.

      For other businesses, this can be the opposite. As an example, we were inundated with billboards for Handy here in SF which were targeting people who needed housecleaning, but I have anecdotally heard that those ads did a ton to drive the supply-side of their business.

      I can also say that leveraging your supply to build demand is a GREAT strategy and one that worked incredibly well at Lyft. It's also shown strong traction at WyzAnt.

  • NS

    Neil Saada

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi Adam, My question how do you manage micro marketing (for example in universities) in order to advertise your company and reach the most people ? Thanks you :)

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      @saadaneil Good question. We don't do much at the university level to be honest and haven't really honed our local "feet-on-the-street" strategy yet. It's coming though and you can believe we'll try a lot of the efforts that were hugely successful at Lyft. I'm a big fan of ambassador-driven programs and we built a pretty sizable army of folks at Lyft who were helping us bring our message to the right people at the right time. It's almost impossible to do this without a distributed network.

  • RS

    Ranee Soundara

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi Adam,

    Thanks so much for doing this AMA - so excited :)

    How do you look at WyzAnt's position in the overall edtech market landscape - where does private tutoring fit?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      @naynerz You're welcome! I'm enjoying it :-).

      In terms of WyzAnt's positioning, we're definitely the leader in our space. There is private tutoring in a classroom setting where the companies own the physical spaces where students learn and that's a pretty big slice of the market. But we're not playing in that space. For starters, the convenience offered by in-person, at home tutoring is un-matched. Parents have enough challenges getting their kids to a million activities that schlepping them to an off-site tutor is a pain.

      Private tutoring is also one of the areas that's most poised to have a big impact. It's already proven to improve grades and build confidence in students, but as people search for ways to get ahead it's one of the most cost-effective options you can imagine. I'd rather send my kids to a good public school and pay a little for private tutoring than send them to a really expensive private school. That's just one guy's opinion though :-)

      The other interesting thing about the private tutoring model is that the international opportunity is m-a-s-s-i-v-e. And WyzAnt isn't doing much there yet. Exciting times ahead!

      • RS

        Ranee Soundara

        about 4 years ago #

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful answer! This is super helpful for me - I'm consulting on an edtech project - so this gives me a little more insight into how vast the landscape really is (beyond just hardware/assessment softare etc.) - thank you!!!

        Lastly, what kinds of course trends do you see with students on WyzAnt? Is it more about subject areas and supplemental learning in the classroom - or assessment readiness? Or both?

        • AF

          Adam Fishman

          about 4 years ago #

          We have a lot of students who need help and confidence-building in core subject areas. Assessment readiness is healthy too, but doesn't build the same long-term relationships with our platform.

  • AM

    Andrei Marinescu

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi Adam, thanks for doing this AMA! Tactical question: what have you found to be the most effective ways so far to combat the (presumable) seasonality factor in WyzAnt's business?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      @malaparte You're welcome! There is definitely a seasonality factor to be considered and I'm not sure I have enough tenure yet to know how to combat it. We focus a lot more on tutor acquisition over the summer because there are tons of teachers looking for work and that definitely helps us in the Fall when school comes roaring back. Diversifying into new areas -- international, online tutoring, etc. is also something that helps.

  • AP

    Avgustina Pasheeva

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi Adam, Thanks for giving back to the community and spending time with all of us. I am part of a startup called LeadSecure. We've build a web and mobile product that allows real estate agents to instantly connect with prospective buyers through video communication. Main use case - real-time virtual remote showings of properties. So shooting my questions: How do you retain users besides the traditional methods such as newsletters, blog posts etc, especially for an audience as real estate agents who are typically not tech savvy. 1/We tried going to website builders - the results weren't that astonishing. 2/What are some engagement techniques that we could apply? 3/ Any suggestions how to reach the end clients (ppl browsing for properties who can value from saving time and why not in the future buying online)? Thanks in advance

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      This is a big question and one I'm not sure that I can completely answer since I don't know your business.

      My recommendation would be to find ways to do in-person gatherings. Real estate agents are social creatures but largely work independently. That can be lonely (at least I think it would be). Doing something that celebrates your supply-side community might go a long way to making them feel valued.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    about 4 years ago #

    Hey Adam - thanks for doing this.

    For marketplaces where, on an individual basis as a consumer, you don't have a frequent need (say once or twice a year), what strategies would you recommend to retain such users?

    Also, would you have to think about acquisition differently for a marketplace that has such a low-frequency use case vs one that does not given that you'd need a constant influx of new users to consume whatever the supply side was offering?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      Hi @anujadhiya , you're welcome!

      This is a really tough one and one of the reasons that Zimride (Lyft's precursor) wasn't successful. It's really tough to stay top of mind with people who are operating on a very low annual transaction frequency. I think that regular, recurring content marketing can certainly help -- continuously reminding your existing users that you're the leader in your space.

      And for question 2 - thinking about acquisition differently - yes. For starters, depending on how your product is priced this can drastically impact your LTV so you might have a tough time figuring out what acquisition cost makes sense for your business. You also run the risk of not providing enough demand to your supply and thus churning out supply.

      I'd need to understand a lot more about your business to give more concrete recommendations, but these are just a few of the pitfalls to watch out for.

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        about 4 years ago #

        @fishmanaf Thanks for that response.
        If you have the time - here's some more detail.
        Imagine a vertical search engine focused on travel/destination research. Most people take only one or two vacations per year.
        Content marketing is really big in travel as it helps fill that fantasize about/inspiration gap (its debatable whether that's already been/being done to death).

        Also, the cost to use the platform is free (just like google) - at least to start. So clearly that impacts what can be spent on acquisition - not to mention travel is a notoriously expensive space when it comes to paid acquisition.

        Thanks again for taking the time. Cheers!

  • ED

    Earl Dos Santos

    about 4 years ago #

    Hey Adam,

    Thanks for doing this!

    1) What books/blogs/sites have been especially valuable for you in your career?
    2) What mentors have been helpful and how did you build that relationship?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      Great question @earldossantos

      1. I read a lot of the same Growth blogs/sites/books that you do most likely and many of the ones you'll see featured on GrowthHackers.com. Some folks I pay attention to: @andrewchen , @bbalfour , Andy Johns, @jwegan , @justinmares , @sean, etc. But I think the real value is in getting out there and meeting people and also DOING THE WORK. The best way to learn is to try new things, make some mistakes, find some successes, etc. It's rarely a straight line up-and-to-the-right in your career or your day-to-day.

      2. I have a personal mentor and coach that I have been using now for a couple of years. I started with her when I was at Lyft and we meet twice/month. She helps me tackle complex concepts that you don't necessarily learn on the job at a startup - people management, motivating teams, effective communication, goal setting, etc. But if you don't have access to a resource like that my recommendation would be to reach out to folks that you admire (maybe someone whose writing you really like) and ask them for advice, coffee, etc. Come with specific questions and a real agenda so that it's clear what you want to get out of the conversation. Sometimes you'll need to settle for an email response, other times you'll start the beginning of a long-term relationship.

      Good luck!

  • SV

    Sabine van der Plas

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi Adam, great you opened a thread to share your experience! I'm in the process of building a platform and wanted to read about growth-hacking and start-up marketing techniques. However, most articles are found were aimed at SaaS companies with free trails and email signups for content etc. Our platform is already completely free and connects two groups of users (readers and writers). We just want to get as many active users as possible (before getting revenue). As you were in a lead position for growth for two multi-sided platforms, I thought you might know some good article/reading/blogs about growth hacking by others or of course written by you, for our type of business. Thanks!

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      Hey @wasabisabine Take a look at another question I answered about mentorship. Some of those people have a tremendous amount of writing. Also, if you're just getting started it's a good idea to take a look at @justinmares Traction Book. Not only does he ask insightful questions about my hair styles, but he's got a ton of great information for building an early traction process.

  • DK

    dinesh kumar

    about 4 years ago #

    Adam, Hi, I am a Life Coach. I deeply intend to launch my 'Online Life Coach' business with a particular segment of Income group. 1st. Is it possible through online efforts? 2ndly. What 3 things to be done right away

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      I don't know your specific business, but I would recommend you shrink your focus to a specific geography first. Simplifies your efforts a lot.

  • TB

    Tuan Bui Anh

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi Adam,

    It's great to see you here. Here is my questions.

    # What's the main growth channel did you choose for WyzAnt?
    # Why did you decide to chose that channel?

    Thanks in advance,
    Tony, growth marketer at www.WooRockets.com

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      Well, I didn't have the privilege of choosing or building WyzAnt's main growth channels (yet). We're a local marketplace for tutors so search of all flavors is really important for us and my team is spending a lot of energy diving into that right now.

      I guess that also answers "why we chose it." It scales well and works with our business model.

  • AN

    Andy Nester

    about 4 years ago #

    Hey Adam - what are some the key tenets of growth hacking that you would recommend bringing to a more established (read: stodgy) b2b tech business focused on enterprise customers?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      Good question Andy. I don't think you can just show up one day and say, "We're going to do this now, get in line." There's a lot of historical friction you may need to overcome. I recommend a few things: understand your customers and what makes them tick, start with some small and very measurable experiments, and try to assemble a relatively autonomous team from within to work on them. People like seeing teams put points on the board, so that's always a top priority.

      I think this is true of ANY business by the way.

      1 Share
  • KW

    Katelyn Watson

    about 4 years ago #

    What do you think are a few of the next big things that maybe have not been discovered yet?

    Ok, I will stop trying to stump you now!

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      I'm usually not the first guy to try a brand new, unproven tactic but I do think that with the explosion in mobile adoption and local services something that not a lot of people are thinking about is beacon technology. There are a few nascent companies working on developing this infrastructure right now, but no one has cracked it yet. The nice thing about beacons and the underlying data stores behind them is it's yet another CRM repository, but you can now use it to acquire or activate new people.

  • DB

    Drew Burch

    about 4 years ago #

    Hey @fishmanaf thanks for the AMA

    What is one constant about human nature/psychology that is not obvious that you should always keep in mind when building for growth?

    What is an obvious one to remember?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      You're welcome @andrewburch , good question.

      I'll start with the second part first - the obvious one:
      If you want people to do something, ask them to do it. This comes back to the "build a better mousetrap" theory that people still don't get. Even the best, most awe-inspiring products need to be introduced to people. Lyft, Uber, Slack, AirBnB, Dropbox, WyzAnt, Gmail, etc. etc. etc. didn't just magically appear one day with a million users. Someone told you about them. The best ones are where the product's own users tell other people about them, but even early traction requires you to go out and tell people about your product. So, ask people to do the thing that you want them to do -- but make sure it's also something that they want to do :-)

      Now the non-obvious one...
      People are motivated for different reasons.
      I think too often we take a one-size-fits-all approach to talking to our users. This manifests itself in questions you see like, "What tactic should I use here." A perfect example of this is the difference between Lyft drivers and WyzAnt Tutors. A lot (not all, but a good percentage) of drivers are motivated by money and Lyft offers them the chance to make it pretty easily. Tutors also like making money, but many of them are motivated by the results and reactions they get from their students. It's a bit more altruistic; they like helping people. How you talk to a potential Lyft driver is VERY different from how you'd talk to a potential tutor because their motivations are different.

      Hope this was helpful!

  • HR

    Harri Rachel Kushnick

    about 4 years ago #

    I'm bummed I missed your event this morning! Is there a recording that you can post?

    • SE

      Sean Ellis

      about 4 years ago #

      Hi Harri, good news is that it is "recorded" - the full event is right here online. It's a text only AMA, so everything is on this page. If you have any follow up questions for Adam, you can send them over Twitter.

  • PW

    Phil Wolff

    about 4 years ago #

    WyzAnt, like Lyft, is a hyperlocal matching business. Like dating sites, you've got to build a density in both sides of the market in a very small geography to make that submarket work. How do you intervene at the very local level as a marketmaker? What do you track?

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      Well, tutoring is a little different from transportation in that distance isn't as huge of a barrier -- I'm willing to work with a tutor who is 10 miles away from me if they're great, but I'm not willing to get a ride from a driver who might be 5+ minutes away unless I'm really in a bind.

      At Lyft we always started with the drivers in our market -- because without drivers there are no rides. We used to subsidize the driver-side of the marketplace with hourly pay just to be on the platform and maintain a certain acceptance rate. The problem is that it didn't align incentives properly so enough drivers sat at home in quieter areas. We flipped this around and started subsidizing the demand side with ride credits and allowing drivers to make what they made. We could dial this down as organic (non-credited) rides grew over time... which they did because of retention rates. This is a nice aspect of the transportation market in general so the strategy works.

      We watched both availability of drivers to passengers as well as the utilization of drivers. Over-indexing on either one of those is a bad idea because that means the other side of the marketplace is having a sub-par experience. So we tried to reach a certain equilibrium that made most everyone happy -- a good availability of drivers for our passenger base and a high enough utilization to maximize driver earnings. Lyft's Data Science team was pretty top notch so that helped with this.

      For tutoring, it has been awhile since WyzAnt "launched" a new market, but similar concepts can apply. Find tutors first, get them on the platform, and then tap into the demand that already exists (just isn't on your platform). WyzAnt has a great product for tutors to manage their business, and the system is/was pretty broken before we came along... so tutors really like it. I think starting with supply is always a good approach.

  • AD

    Alex Dorandish

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi Adam, we built a product called talpool.com, it allows photographers, models, fashion designers and makeup artists find projects and collaborate with each other.

    I want to know what's the best approach to get some traction?
    What would be the first step to take here?

    Our product is 10x better than our competitors modelmayhem.com in terms of features that matter, mobility and user experience.

  • OK

    O K

    about 4 years ago #

    Hello Adam. I run a tuition marketplace (not in America:) ). So I was wondering on ways to get the traction moving especially from the student acquisition end. Ideas?

  • ER

    Eetu Raudas

    about 4 years ago #

    Hi Adam!

    Two quick questions:

    1. While having the egg-and-chicken problem @ Lyft starting phase, which one did you solve first - drivers or riders? And how?

    2. What was the single most critical action/set of actions that finally enabled the ignition of critical mass and virality kicking in?

    3. What was the biggest mistake you did while scaling early-stage users - one that you would not do again?

    Thank you thousand times in advance, really appreciate it :)

    -Eetu

    • AF

      Adam Fishman

      about 4 years ago #

      @eeturaudas1

      1. Drivers. Always drivers. We solved it by hustling to "recruit" them. Job boards, referral, and other low-cost strategies. We also restricted operating hours and days of the week to maximize the supply that we had. Lyft wasn't a 24-hour service for many months after launch... no one really remembers that anymore though :-).

      2. I think the experience was something that people wanted to talk about and that helped ignite word-of-mouth activity. We had very interesting drivers who people wanted to chat with, take pictures with, talk about on social media, fist-bump, etc. The mustache helped too. Lyft was a breath of fresh air from a highly transactional and very expensive Uber system (also both are better than taxis).

      3. We didn't take into account the nuances of each market with respect to geography, pick up times, etc. Without a sustained presence on the ground a lot of local strategies necessary for continuous demand-generation are tough to execute. We waited too long to launch our ambassador program and once we did saw good improvements in local activations.

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