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Andrew Dumont is a serial entrepreneur and technologist. Currently, Andrew works as the VP of Marketing at Bitly after a stint as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Betaworks, the startup studio that created Bitly and has invested in companies like Tumblr and AirBnB. Since the age of 18, Andrew has been building and growing startup companies like Moz (>$35M in revenue), Seesmic (acquired by Hootsuite), Stride (acquired by ProsperWorks) and Tatango. Through his experiences, he's gained a broad base of knowledge in areas of SaaS business development, online marketing, public relations, brand development, and strategy

He advises at groups like Techstars and Startup Weekend, is an occasional columnist for Inc. Magazine, and has been written about or quoted in publications like The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, FastCompany, and Business Insider. Forbes named Andrew one of 30 innovators under the age of 30 in marketing, the United Nations appointed him an entrepreneurial delegate, and he's spoken around the globe on all topics digital. A proud Seattle native, Andrew currently lives in New York City with his beloved espresso machine and Nirvana albums.

You can follow him on Twitter: @AndrewDumont

He will be live on Jan 21 starting 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which time he will answer as many questions as possible.

  • ES

    Edward Stephens

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Andrew,

    Thank you very much for agreeing to do this AMA - awesome to have you on.

    A couple of questions from me:

    1) It's incredible that you've been a serial (and successful) entrepreneur from such a young age, what have you sacrificed to achieve this and how have you balanced the pressures?

    2) Where do you see the field of marketing headed and where would you like it to head in terms of visualisation, personalisation and originality?

    3) Have you got the company make-up or culture wrong at any of your start-ups and are you able to share any of the mistakes (whether they were hiring, opex anything else) that you noticed?

    • AD

      Andrew Dumont

      almost 4 years ago #

      You bet! Thanks for the question, Edward.

      1) It's funny, I was a bit more of an odd duck back then -- now it's common for folks to start at a young age in technology and entrepreneurship. Generally, this is a good thing, but I've been thinking more about what I sacrificed by doing that. It's interesting in hindsight to think about. To be honest, I sacrificed a lot. I never really had a "standard" college experience or the carefree years that most have in the 18 - 25 age range. This has helped me grow into what I am today, but I sometimes reflect on that period as a time where I wish I wouldn't have been so hard on myself. Other days I wouldn't change a thing. Since then, though, I've tried to be a bit more sustainable. Wrote a bit about this topic here: http://dmnt.im/burnout and here: http://dmnt.im/wlb It's a complex subject.

      2) I think it's clear that marketing is moving towards individuals. I'm fascinated with the idea of individuals creating a following, and the opportunities that exist around that. With the proliferation of social and consumption today's patterns, it opens up a whole new opportunity for businesses that know how to leverage the power of topical and individual followings. It's why you see so many people starting podcasts, newsletters, etc. It's leverage. And the balance of power is shifting to the people that have a following.

      3) I'm not sure. Maybe... probably. :) From a culture standpoint, I always try to build a from the place of passion, transparency, integrity and authenticity. With different teams and people, that translates into different cultures, but those are the things that I care about.

      3 Share
      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        almost 4 years ago #

        The sexiness that's often portrayed about startup life, to me, betrays the reality what you have to give up and do to make things happen. The links above are essential reading imo.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    almost 4 years ago #

    Thanks a lot for doing this AMA! What is the most important success metric for Bitly and how is the overall company and your marketing team organized to improve that metric?

    • AD

      Andrew Dumont

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hey, Sean. Thanks for the question.

      For Bitly, the two most important metrics for us are revenue (we have an enterprise version of the product that keeps the lights on http://dmnt.im/enterprise) and WAUs, which speaks to adoption and growth of our free product. Bitly is about 85 people and has an annual recurring revenue in the eight-figure range, which a lot of folks don't know about -- part of the marketing challenge. :)

      For the marketing team specifically, we look at an inbound closed won number -- meaning, the amount of monthly recurring revenue that is generated from leads from an inbound lead source. In this video (http://dmnt.im/machine), I talk a bit about how I built and structured the team, but the high-level categories are demand gen, community, product marketing, content marketing, marketing design and marketing development.

      4 Share
  • CJ

    Chris Johnson

    almost 4 years ago #

    What tools do you use on a daily basis?

    • AD

      Andrew Dumont

      almost 4 years ago #

      Ah, great question. I nerd out pretty hard on productivity tools. :) This is what I've got in my current "stack".

      Things (http://dmnt.im/things) - Believe pretty strongly in the GTD methodology, and this is my favorite app that I've used from a task management perspective. I've tried them all. Wunderlist is a decent free alternative to this.

      Soulver (http://dmnt.im/soulver) - It's not free, but so worth the money. Makes doing quick calculations easy and quick, while also accepting plain text.

      Boomerang (http://dmnt.im/boomerang) - Returns emails back to your inbox when you specify, great for programmatic reminders to follow-up and get back in touch.

      Instapaper (http://dmnt.im/insta) - Bookmarking tool for saving webpages, articles, and video that you want read or watch at a later time.

      Alfred (http://dmnt.im/alfred) - Dead simple interface for quickly finding files, folders, and applications on your computer. Mac specifically.

      Buffer (http://dmnt.im/buffer) - We all know this one. :) Huge fan of these guys, and they've got a killer integration with Bitly.

      OneTab (http://dmnt.im/onetab) - Condenses all of your open tabs into a single view that you can restore, save, and re-open.

      Strick Workflow (http://dmnt.im/workflow) - Breaks your work into 25-minute intervals where social media and other distracting sites you specify are blocked.

      And of course, Giphy for all of my many GIF needs, Spotify for music, Slack for internal communication and Sublime Text 2 for any dev work.

      7 Share
  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hey Andrew, thanks for doing this AMA. What's the biggest challenge(s) you’ve encountered with driving growth at Bitly so far?

    • AD

      Andrew Dumont

      almost 4 years ago #

      Thanks for the question, Morgan. To be honest, the hardest part has been adapting to the enterprise SaaS model. As a marketer, one of the keys is to measure your actions against the corresponding reaction. In enterprise SaaS, there's a longer feedback loop and a lot of dependencies (ie. the sales process). The majority of my experience is in self-service SaaS (swiping a credit card), so there's been a bit of a patience curve there that I've been trying to develop. :)

      Aside from that, there's a decent bit of "marketing debt" that has been accruing over the years that we've been trying to break through. Bitly has been around for 8 years now, 5 years as a free product and 3 years as a freemium SaaS product, so there's some systems (behind the scenes) that are a bit out of date that needed to be re-thought. But those are all solvable problems.

      2 Share
  • JL

    Jordyn Lee

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Andrew - just wanted to say I'm a big fan of yours. :)

  • BS

    Brian Saplicki

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hey Andrew. Thanks for taking the time out to do this AMA.

    I really appreciate your thought leadership in coffee - really helped me there.

  • AH

    Agnes Haryuni

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Andrew! I am very interested to learn about how you or your team do data analysis/data management for marketing. I got a couple of questions:
    1. What tools do you use? Whats your favorite data sourcing tool?
    2. If you have $100 for PR, what's the first thing you gonna do?

    • AD

      Andrew Dumont

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hey, Agnes. Thanks for the questions. :)

      1) For day to day tools, wrote a bit about that on one of the other questions - let me know if there's anything specific you're looking for. For data specifically, we use a mix from a variety of places like Google Analytics, Bitly, Intercom, internal databases (using Sequel Pro for querying http://dmnt.im/sqlpro), Optimizely, Salesforce, Marketo, etc. We then consolidate that into dashboards using Geckoboard (http://dmnt.im/geckoboard).

      2) Nothing. :) Seriously, money doesn't buy you PR. You've got to put in the work and craft a compelling story. I actually wrote a relatively in-depth post a few years back on how to bootstrap your PR efforts, which may be helpful: http://dmnt.im/bootstrappingpr

      4 Share
  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    almost 4 years ago #

    If you haven't checked out this video where @andrewdumont talks about his first 6 months at Bitly, its worth checking out before the AMA: http://growthhackers.com/videos/building-bitly-s-growth-machine

  • LS

    Logan Stoneman

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hey Andrew, thanks for hopping on the AMA today!

    You started your career early in the field of marketing and have been incredibly successful since. For those in college now, what suggestions would you give Marketing or Entrepreneurship majors? From an early age, what type of philosophies, tactics, or strategies did you use to begin your rocket career path?

    Thanks man - really appreciate it your time!

    • AD

      Andrew Dumont

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hey, Logan. Thanks for the question, man. I'd fight you on the incredibly successful part, but that's a different discussion. :)

      For folks just starting out, I think the most important thing someone can do is to get involved in an early-staged startup, either one they create or join. There's a pace of learning and hands-on experience that you get in a company <50 employees that you just can't get anywhere else. It's accelerated learning.

      When I think back on my career, I've been able to pack a ton of hands-on learning in a small set of time because of the early-stage experience. You're able to try crazy ideas, test and analyze -- something that usually is blocked off with red tape in a large company.

      During that process, you'll learn a lot about yourself -- what you're good at, what you're not so good at -- helping inform the next step in your career.

      3 Share
      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        almost 4 years ago #

        Awesome! Is there something specific that you were able to demonstrate before joining an early stage startup that convinced them to have you on board in the first place?

  • GL

    Gbemi Lolade

    almost 4 years ago #

    Thanks for this AMA.
    What's your advice/tools for someone new to growth and growth hacking?

    • AD

      Andrew Dumont

      almost 4 years ago #

      What's up, Gbemi! Thanks for dropping by. I dug a little bit into my day to day tools in the question above, but for growth specifically... hmmm. I don't know that I've got anything mind-blowing there, depends on the channel I'm working on.

      My advice for someone new would be to get your hands dirty in each channel. Spend some time doing content marketing, SEO, paid acquisition, product development, product marketing, PR, etc. Through that process, you'll develop the baseline understanding of each that I think is critical and a knack for a few of them that you can specialize in. Consulting is a great way to get this kind of experience if you don't want to join a startup.

  • HQ

    Hila Qu

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Andrew,

    Andrew, great to have you here. And re on Nirvana albums, on a recent road trip, the music list happened to play "My girl", my 5-year old son was totally amazed and kept asking what this song is about...

    My questions are:

    1. What are some of your habits/mindsets that have contributed the most to your achievement today?

    2. You began to lead a team at a relatively young age, did you find that challenging? What's your style in term of leadership and managing?

    • AD

      Andrew Dumont

      almost 4 years ago #

      Oh, Seattle stereotypes. :) That's funny...

      1) I'm a super-disciplined person, which is important. Especially when you have a lot you want to accomplish. I keep a pretty rigid schedule, while building in time during the weekend for a lot of reading and thinking. Wrote a pretty absurd post about this awhile back :) http://dmnt.im/26hrs Schedule aside, I'm not sure there's anything special. I love working and learning, so that drives me.

      2) Actually, I found it invigorating. When you start young, there's fewer expectations, pressures and experiences to curb your optimism. I miss that. Sure, there's baggage that comes with being young, in terms of judgement from people, but the positives outweighed it.

      From a leadership style, I like to set a direction and get out of the way. I believe in hiring people that are more intelligent than me in their area of emphasis and giving them the freedom and tools they need to succeed. My day to day job as a manager is removing barriers.

      • HQ

        Hila Qu

        almost 4 years ago #

        I happen to think about how to shift my schedule to become more productive, and your article "How I Made a 26-Hour Day" arrived just in time and confirmed a lot of my thinking.

        Thank you for sharing!

  • NS

    nate smoyer

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hey Andrew, I'm a marketer without masterful technical skills. Do you see this as a major hindurance to a career with tech companies and if so, what's the best way I can improve my value? Thanks!

    • AD

      Andrew Dumont

      almost 4 years ago #

      Nate, good to see you! Thanks for dropping by.

      I am as well. :) No, I don't think it's a hinderance. But I do think every marketer should have some level of technical knowledge. My friend Jamie Steven wrote a great piece on this awhile back with some strong resources. Definitely give it a read, I use it as a guidepost: http://dmnt.im/techmktg

      That aside, I think two things are important as a marketer, from a technical perspective. First, there has to be a baseline understanding of the complexities and challenges of creating technology. The biggest problem with most marketers that aren't technical is ignorance. They don't know what they don't know. There has to be an openness and willingness to learn. Second, marketers need to be able to pull and analyze their own data. Data makes the marketing world go 'round. If a marketer doesn't have the technical knowledge to pull data, it's going to be an uphill climb, so investing in learning querying languages like SQL is pretty valuable in most cases.

      The best way to prove your value? Drive the key business metrics. :) Hope you're well, Nate, I'm sure we'll catch up soon.

      3 Share
  • AS

    Alex Sherstinsky

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Andrew, thanks for doing an AMA with us.

    You wrote a great post a couple years ago on 21 tactics to acquire customers: https://growthhackers.com/articles/how-to-grow-21-tactics-to-acquire-customers/

    How would you amend that list today? What’s in and what’s out?

    The broader question is what channels are you most excited about exploring to drive growth and which ones do you think are not worth it any more?

    • AD

      Andrew Dumont

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hey, Alex. Thanks for reading that, it was a beast to write. :) Good question. I think that the majority of the tactics in that list are still relevant; though, to your point, some less so than others. The items in the list that I'm particularly excited about are winbacks and customer lifecycle marketing (via something like Intercom), long-form guides and interactive content, and free standalone tools. HARO has become less valuable over time, as in-app sharing.

      2 Share
  • GB

    Gilles Bertaux

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for doing this AMA!

    What advices would you give to a young entrepreneur, for a very early stage startup, in terms of marketing / lead generation.

    1. What should be his focus?
    2. How do you feel about doing inbound right away ?
    3. In that context, If you could pick only one metric what would it be?

    • AD

      Andrew Dumont

      almost 4 years ago #

      You bet, Gilles. Thanks for the question.

      1) My advice would be take a scientific approach to creating and evaluating growth channels. Each business is different, so the strategy of how you approach lead gen is going to vary. For example, when I came into Bitly, I evaluated the business from a very high level (brand, free user base, lead funnel) to see where the biggest opportunity existed, and generated a list of key items I wanted to test based on that evaluation. By doing that, it gives a set of priorities that you can work against instead of trying to do everything at once.

      2) I think it's critical. I often recommend doing inbound work pre-product in most cases, as it's such a slow roll that takes a lot of time and effort to start seeing the output. Most people abandon the inbound process because they don't see results right away -- so starting out with inbound as a focus is a great way to make it a fundamental piece of your marketing strategy. Overwhelmingly, it's been the most effective marketing channel in my experience. Worth every penny and ounce of sweat.

      3) Again, depends on the business. At Bitly, we evaluate two key metrics on the marketing team -- A leads generated (automated lead score provided by Infer) and inbound closed won (dollar value generated directly from marketing initiatives). In the early days, I'd recommend picking a single metric and focusing on it until you've got a strong grasp at moving it in the direction you want. For my first 6 months, our one key metric was leads. Since then, we've gotten more sophisticated.

  • PV

    Philippe Vdhd

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Andrew,

    1) When you start to work with a company (a growing tech startup), what are the first things you look at and try to understand?
    2) What are the top three (marketing) skills you attribute to your success as a marketer?
    3) Who are marketers (or other people) you look up to for inspiration and ideas?

    Thanks for doing this and would appreciate your response. :)

    • AD

      Andrew Dumont

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hey, Philippe! Really good questions, some difficult ones to answer, but I'll give it a go. :)

      1) The first thing I look at are the people. What is the quality, intelligence and passion of the team? That's usually the best indicator. Good people don't stay long at a place without opportunity and fun challenges. Product adoption and growth rates are also really important, notably understanding why or why not something is growing. The growth rate gives you a good sense of the challenges that are on the horizon and whether or not you're the right person to help. For example, a rocket ship is going to run into problems with people and culture, a slow-growing company is going to have stress on the sales and marketing functions. Finally, I evaluate what I want to learn and whether the company can help accelerate my learning in that area. Critical. When I think about my happiest times in my career, it's when I was challenged and learning rapidly.

      2) From a very high-level, I think it's critical to approach marketing in a scientific way -- with a process of forming a theory, testing, analyzing data, and either doubling down or forming another test. Successful marketing folks and organizations are able to recognize profitable channels and invest heavily in them.

      3) I've been lucky enough to form friendships and work directly with folks like Neil Patel, Rand Fishkin, Hiten Shah, Loic Lemeur and others, so I look up to and have learned a lot from people like that.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hey Andrew!
    Thanks for taking the time for this.

    It's no secret that other URL shorteners also exist, including one from Google.
    What are the biggest challenges with standing out, when from a user perspective similar alternatives exist?
    In your time at Bitly so far, how have you thought about overcoming this?

    • AD

      Andrew Dumont

      almost 4 years ago #

      Yes, definitely. There's plenty of other options out there. Bitly is in a unique spot, simply because of the scale and adoption of the product -- we see over 10 billion interactions each month on Bitly links.

      The challenge, and where Bitly is focusing, is on elevating the process of shortening a link (which every marketer does) to building a link management platform that takes simple links and transforms them into intelligent links that are optimized for user behavior, supercharged with data, and increase the number and quality of interactions. That's what a lot of the major brands are paying us for today. But there's a long way to go in shifting perception of most marketers on links being a commodity to being a major asset. Part of the challenge and one of the reasons I joined the company.

  • DD

    Deandre Durr

    almost 4 years ago #

    Andrew,

    Hats off to the impressive resume at such a young age.

    1. What exactly is an Entrepreneur in Residence?

    2. Did you learn more about marketing from your own side projects? Do you have more than Stride?

    3. How did you make the Forbes list? Do you think it was your blogging, side projects, or jobs at different companies?

    Thanks a ton for doing this AMA. I look forward to hearing more impressive things from you :-)

    • AD

      Andrew Dumont

      almost 4 years ago #

      Thanks, Deandre. Long way to go, but appreciate the kind words.

      1) Good question. :) An EIR in the context of betaworks was someone who spent time working with various studio companies (like Giphy, Digg, Poncho, Bitly, Instapaper, at that time) to see if there were any challenges or opportunities that jumped out and worked on some new product concepts. Bitly jumped out during that EIR process.

      2) My side projects have been a huge learning outlet for me. I think they're incredibly powerful -- there's only so many things you get to touch in your day job. They've definitely made me a better marketer. I don't have any active side projects at the moment, though the next one will likely be full-time. :)

      3) I'm not sure. I'd like to think that it's from hard work and performance, but blogging and sideprojects likely helped. Definitely honored to be recognized.

  • PD

    Porus Daruvala

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hi Andrew...thanks for doing this AMA!

    My question - Do you have a particular growth experiment that was either a big win or a big learning experience that you can share with us?

    • AD

      Andrew Dumont

      almost 4 years ago #

      Thanks for the question, Porus.

      Not one recently, to be honest. My focus over the past 9 months or so has been on building the marketing org and machine at Bitly, along with taking over our sales development team. So not as in the weeds as I've been in the past. I'm sure I'll get. There may be some valuable stuff in this post I wrote awhile back, though: http://dmnt.im/21tactics

  • BG

    Brandon Gains

    almost 4 years ago #

    Hey Andrew!

    Currently working on this at Referral. How have you adjusted your growth strategy from self-service SaaS to an enterprise SaaS model? IE Different reporting structures with the many stages Leads + Opportunities go through. Personally, I've been tackling the problem with an Account-Based Marketing approach with separate automation tracks for the different contacts/personas and building opportunity influence reports via our BI-Suite.

    • AD

      Andrew Dumont

      almost 4 years ago #

      Hey, Brandon. Thanks for dropping by -- I know Logan over at Referral, awesome company. :)

      Growth strategy is similar, same levers to pull, but the feedback loop is longer and more convoluted. Yeah, the key that I've been seeing as well is in segmentation, altering message and medium to different cohorts. Also seeing dividends from lead-re-engagement and nurture programs. Also, I recently took over our sales development team, which has been extremely helpful in shortening the feedback loop and ensuring the first tough is the right one with everyone that comes in the door.

  • BG

    Brandon Gains

    almost 4 years ago #

    BTW - SBWeb is a great community to be a part of - We did a small event with Sunir and the crew this fall at Inbound - I found your Slide-Share on the talk here - http://www.slideshare.net/sbweb/andrew-dumont-bitly-building-bitlys-growth-machine-business - Let me know if you want to swing up to Victoria for a talk this spring! I've been organizing events in the community via www.victoriastartups.com

    • AD

      Andrew Dumont

      almost 4 years ago #

      Awesome! :) I'd love to, I'm actually from Seattle (Bellingham specifically) so I get up there quite a bit.

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