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AMAs

Hiten has started a dozen businesses of his own including Crazy Egg, KISSmetrics and Quick Sprout, raised money from investors and is an active investor/advisor to over 110 companies. He also helped coin the term Growth Hacker with Sean Ellis and Patrick Vlaskovits.

He's really really into SaaS and helping businesses of any type grow. He's got a weekly email newsletter called Product Habits where he shares links every week and also focuses on teaching people how to create high growth products that people love. He has a podcast about startups, business and life called The Startup Chat that he does with his friend Steli.

You can ask him any thing about pretty much any thing related to being a founder, running a SaaS business and growing all types of businesses from brick and mortar retail, social mobile apps to consumer goods and of course SaaS! It's almost impossible to ask him a question he isn't able to help with so ask away!

You can follow him on Twitter: @hnshah

He will be live on May 25 starting at 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which he will answer as many questions as possible.

  • JW

    Joe Wilkinson

    3 months ago #

    What did you believe about growth a year ago, that you now disagree with?

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      For many years now, I've focused on the fundamentals of growth. These fundamentals are built on being obsessed with the customer. Being data-informed instead of data-driven. Tactically executing as if everything in a business is started as an experiment built to learn something. I don't have anything from a year ago that I disagree with now... I just focus on the fundamentals of growth as I see them. Then I build a foundation for growth based on learnings from experiments that are oriented around the customer.

  • JP

    John Phamvan

    3 months ago #

    Hey Hiten,
    What do you think is the absolute minimum amount of data a startup at product/market fit needs to be able to make decisions on where to focus growth efforts?

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      This is one of those questions that leads me to ask you more questions. What kind of data do you mean? What kind of business? Who is the customer?

      I don't have a generic answer!

  • KJ

    Kristian Jønsson

    3 months ago #

    Hey Hiten,

    What's your biggest learning from growing Crazyegg, KISSmetrics and Quick Sprout?

    What is the one thing you wish you knew, before growing these companies?

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      The one thing I wish I knew before Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics were started is how fast things move with software because of competition. We started Crazy Egg in 2005, there weren't many SaaS companies out there. Same in 2008 when KISSmetrics was started. In the last dozen years, competition is more fierce than ever. If one company figures out what's great for customers, they can't just sit on that for very long... they have to keep at it and making their software better every week (if not every day) in order to stay ahead. With Quick Sprout we started more recently and have set up a company that can iterate at the pace that's required in today's market.

      5 Share
  • GH

    Glen Harper

    3 months ago #

    Hi Hiten,
    While you've invested and advised a ton of startups, there's likely a bigger army of startup founders and marketing/growth professionals that have learn from you every time you've written something - whether its on your blog or Twitter etc.
    How can those that have benefited from a distance pay you back for all the hard earned knowledge you've shared so freely?

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      I really appreciate your question. If you've found anything I've done valuable. Please tell people to follow me, sign up for my newsletter, etc...

      I'd love to have more reach and impact even more people (and their businesses) in super positive ways!

  • MT

    Mitchell Tweedie

    3 months ago #

    Hi Hiten,

    What's your advice for startups with small SaaS subscription budgets? How can businesses best evaluate the value of one service compared with others (e.g. KISSmetrics vs Quick Sprout).

    Thanks.

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    3 months ago #

    Bonjour Hiten,

    Thank you for doing this AMA.

    1) Why Neil as a co-founder at Crazy Egg?
    2) What are the reasons why you appear to be so passionate about SaaS startups?
    3) How can you tell the difference between a great growth hacker and a not-so-great one?
    4) How would you go about making growth inroads in the very early stages of a SaaS mobile experience with luxury real estate agents as must-have users?
    5) Where do you see the most potential among SaaS startups over the next decade?

    Merci!

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      Why Neil as a co-founder at Crazy Egg?
      Neil is my brother-in-law, I'm married to his sister, Amee. Her and I have been dating since we were 15-years old and Neil was 11-years old at the time. We started our first business together when Neil was starting college when I was getting out of college in 2003. We've been working together since then.

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      How can you tell the difference between a great growth hacker and a not-so-great one?
      I look at two main things: their results and their process. If they get great growth results and have a process that ensures those results occur over time, they are great in my book. Having a growth & experimentation mindset with a healthy dose of curiosity would be other factors I look for too.

      5 Share
    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      How would you go about making growth inroads in the very early stages of a SaaS mobile experience with luxury real estate agents as must-have users?
      It's not very different than any other early-stage business / product. I would focus on learning as much as you can from every single real estate agent (and consumers if applicable) in order to get deep knowledge about your customers / users. This will ensure that you set yourself up to know exactly what problems people have so you can solve them better than any other business in your market.

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      What are the reasons why you appear to be so passionate about SaaS startups?
      I love building things and SaaS is pretty awesome when it comes to your ability to build things and provide value to other people fast and iterate the product. I love that feedback loop that's why I'm so passionate about any and all SaaS. Not just startups, companies of all sizes! I also love business in general and get involved in *all* types of companies.

      3 Share
    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      Where do you see the most potential among SaaS startups over the next decade?
      This is an easy question to answer. I see the potential for SaaS everywhere. I'm also a fan of freemium and also non-subscription based SaaS businesses or ones that have additional monetization opportunities beyond just subscriptions.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    3 months ago #

    Hey Hiten - so cool to have you on on finally!

    Other than Kissmetrics and Crazy Egg, what marketing/analytics tools are you a fan of/reliant on?
    Within any of those tools you love, what do you think is the biggest missing feature?

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      I really like Metabase, Mode Analytics, and Looker as a category of tools that help companies get business insights faster. I think the biggest missing feature in analytics has to do with collaboration. Getting a whole team involved.

      3 Share
  • JD

    James Dunn

    3 months ago #

    What marketing channels do you think are worth experimenting with (or under exploited) in 2017? Why?

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      In my businesses, we are constantly experimenting with new channels. I think Facebook is still underutilized, Instagram is up and coming and Snapchat probably won't (yet) work for most businesses. Besides that, I still love creating content and using it as a driver for user acquisition. All content is marketing and all marketing is content in my book. That's why.

      5 Share
  • SK

    S Kodial

    3 months ago #

    You must have run thousands of tests with your startups over the years.
    If you think back to when you first started with growth experimentation vs now, what is different with the way you do it?
    Any lessons from all that experience about testing that you wish you knew when you first started doing it?
    Also, have any patterns emerged in terms of areas to test first within the AARRR funnel that might provide critical insights?

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      Any lessons from all that experience about testing that you wish you knew when you first started doing it?
      The more qualitative (and quantitative) research you do before coming up with ideas, the higher your chances of finding a winning variation.

      4 Share
    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      If you think back to when you first started with growth experimentation vs now, what is different with the way you do it?
      I used to think I'd know which variations in an experiment would win and lose. I now know how wrong I was in even thinking that way!

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      Also, have any patterns emerged in terms of areas to test first within the AARRR funnel that might provide critical insights?
      Retention. When in doubt, focus on retention.

      2 Share
  • DH

    Dani Hart

    3 months ago #

    Hey Hiten - thanks for doing this.
    What's been the most unexpected thing you've learned - either from your time running startups or those that you've advised?
    What's been the most tangible evidence (to you or publicly) of the impact of that learning?

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      From time to time I get this feeling that I could be doing more for myself or spending less time helping others and / or advising their companies. This happens a few times a year at most. That feeling is actually unexpected for me, I really love helping others. What happens once I start feeling like that for even a few days is that something unexpected happens (tangible evidence ;) that makes me snap out of it. I get some unexplainable benefit from the help I gave someone for myself. It usually seems like it comes out of nowhere and surprises me.

  • DO

    Danielle Olivas

    3 months ago #

    Hey Hiten
    Can you talk more about the process of how you'll grew the Kissmetrics blog?
    How did it find it's voice?
    How did you'll (and even today) source people to write for the blog and have them maintain that "Kissmetrics style" of writing?
    Any other learnings (including unexpected ones) on how to raise the odds of success with growing the blog?
    Lastly, if you had to start the Kissmetrics blog today, what would you do different?

  • TN

    Tri Nguyen

    3 months ago #

    Hey Hiten
    If a seed stage company whose model was such that people used the product only, say, once to a few times a year (like say home buying or health care or travel), how could they demonstrate traction to you in a way that would convince you to invest?

  • VV

    Vishnu Vankayala

    3 months ago #

    Hi Hiten,

    What kind of tools do you think will improve productivity for Digital marketers? For eg: Kissmetrics point-click analytics, Ad analysers, automatic dashboard creations etc.

    Any thoughts?

  • RB

    Raj Bhatt

    3 months ago #

    Hey Hiten,

    Thanks for taking time and doing this AMA. I've one question for you.

    How is the growth in current SaaS market and what is the scope(w.r.t. growth) of the market in coming years?

    Thank you!

  • JF

    Javier Feldman

    3 months ago #

    Hey Hiten - thanks for your time.
    You already have your Hitenism blog and recently you just started the Product Habits blog as well.
    Why did you feel the need to start the 2nd blog?
    Also, how do you decide what to write for which blog?

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      More is better!

      Just kidding. I wanted to create a brand that isn't just based on my name. On Hitenism.com I'm posting more personal content (that's why it's much less frequent now) and on ProductHabits.com I'm posting much more regularly and it's product, marketing, and growth related for the most part.

  • AM

    Ayrana Mongush

    3 months ago #

    Hey Hiten, which product trends should we expect on the Ad Tech market next couple of years?

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      Ad Tech products should be doing more with less effort on the marketer's part. I am impressed with products like http://shoelace.com/ that automate more and more of the process by melding expertise, tech and automation together in an intuitive package.

      3 Share
      • AM

        Ayrana Mongush

        3 months ago #

        Great, thanks!
        P.S. We are doing now the AI-product called "Creative Analytics" on Automating Facebook Ads Analysis. It would be great to follow up you with the public version when it's ready

  • MD

    Mark Anthony de Jesus

    3 months ago #

    Hey Hiten - thanks for being here
    What do you think are the top 3 growth/marketing challenges or problems facing startups today?
    Why do you think these challenges exist for each of the 3?
    What strategies would you recommend for overcoming (or mitigating) each of them?

  • CS

    Christine Saba

    3 months ago #

    Hi Hiten! Love the path you've followed building startups (I've only worked for startups - it's the best world to be in but we're both probably bias).

    Curious, is there a common theme you've seen with companies that are successful and if so, do you believe it's within the team or the product? Knowing that it's probably both - what would you emphasize is important for either?

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      It's most important for an organization to be self-aware. Realize where they suck and absolutely need to get better ASAP. This process is difficult and doesn't happen very often in most companies.

      I touch on this a bunch in an article I wrote about David Cancel: https://hitenism.com/david-cancel/

      4 Share
  • SG

    Sukhada Gholba

    3 months ago #

    Hi Hiten,

    Thanks for doing this AMA.

    1. Are there any proven patterns that raise the odds of converting the initial users who visit our website into creating accounts?

    2. How can a first time founder improve their marketing skills with no prior marketing experience?

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      Are there any proven patterns that raise the odds of converting the initial users who visit our website into creating accounts?
      Get really really good at conversion optimization and experimentation. There is really no such thing as proven patterns that last very long. Your best bet is to get great at A/B testing by doing qualitative research before creating experiments.

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      How can a first time founder improve their marketing skills with no prior marketing experience?
      First, don't be intimated.
      Second, focus on tangible customer milestones.

      Here's a direct link to a PDF that'll help you: https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/315483/zero-to-thousands.pdf

  • MP

    Maximilian Peters

    3 months ago #

    Thanks for doing this! I've been a fan of you for a while now.

    You worked a lot with Neil Patel. How did you guys combine your skill sets and how was the work divided?

  • PH

    Paul Hopkins

    3 months ago #

    What are you guys going to do with ubersuggest?

  • BC

    Barron Caster

    3 months ago #

    What are the top 3 traits that separate good PMs from world-class PMs?

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      1. Thinking about the user/customer day in and day out.
      2. Being amazing at working with *everyone* on the team, giving them enough context and have them be on board with the direction.
      3. Making connections to create truly must-have and innovative solutions to the most important problems that people have.

      4 Share
  • TM

    Thierry Maout

    3 months ago #

    Hello Hiten,

    What do you think is the biggest management challenge for companies observing high growth in a short amount of time? What are the biggest management pitfalls for founders and how to avoid them?

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      Your own pace of learning is what has to increase over time in order for you to deal with high growth at an increasing pace and continue that growth. The biggest management pitfall is indecisiveness. Decision-making speed is critical to growth, yet management often waits too long to make a decision. A decent decision today is typically better than a great decision a week from now. The way to avoid this is to make "smaller" decisions more often and also be ready to change a decision very fast if it's not working.

  • DN

    durvesh naik

    3 months ago #

    What 3 things you can share that can change my life?

  • SS

    steffi sekar

    3 months ago #

    Why do you think innovation is crucial for any business? As I see most of the startups stick to replicating the trailblazer. Which definitely I believe is pointless.

    • HS

      Hiten Shah

      3 months ago #

      Innovation for innovations sack fails. Innovation that is focused on the customer first and created to solve their problems tends to win in the market. Innovation is important because it's what sets a business/product apart from the competition. It isn't always required from the beginning if copycatting can get you started.

      I've thought about this a lot and wrote a post on it: https://hitenism.com/copycat-competitors-take-market/

  • DG

    daniel gold

    3 months ago #

    What are the best ways to get free traffic NOW?

  • LP

    Laxman Papineni

    3 months ago #

    How important is NPS for you? Be it your companies or the ones you're advising.

  • AG

    ANDY GIBBS

    3 months ago #

    Hi Hiten, What are the metrics or things you look at to know a startup is beginning to flounder and a course correction is required and also what do you consider most important in order of priority within people/process/product/promotion for a new startup. Does the priority change at different stages of growth?

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