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Siqi is VP of Growth at Postmates, where he leads the consumer product, growth engineering, user acquisition, and growth marketing teams.

Siqi was previously founder of Hey, Inc, the makers of Heyday - the automatic journal and Stolen!, the infamous viral game on Twitter. 

Before Hey, Inc, Siqi oversaw Product Management at Zynga and was General Manager of their China business. Before Zynga, Siqi founded Serious Business, one of the first social gaming companies.

You can follow him on Twitter: @blader

He will be live on Jan 12 starting at 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which time he will answer as many questions as possible.

  • SA

    Shaker A

    6 months ago #

    Hey Siqi,

    Thanks for doing this AMA!

    1)What stops a competing service from recruiting the your drivers- similar to what we've seen with Uber and Lyft vying for the same drivers? How do you 'lock-in' drivers? What is it that makes postmates a defensible products? I understand that they have competitors, but what allows them to hold on to leading positions in the industry?

    2)How do you retain your users, if your user only need to use your app occasionally by nature (ex new postmates users)?
    If your app isn't used frequently building up the habit is hard, which makes it even harder to retain the user.
    How do you go about trying to stay top of mind so when the user has a need that your app solves they think of you?

    3)How does your approach customer acquisition differ for the different sides of your marketplace? How do you approach retention and retaining the users of of the different sides of your marketplace?

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    7 months ago #

    Hi Siqi,

    Thank you for doing this AMA.

    What did Postmates focus on initially to crack the two-sided marketplace "chicken and egg" growth dynamic?

    • SC

      Siqi Chen

      6 months ago #

      Hi Arsene! Thanks for the question. This happened way before my time since I only joined 6 months ago and Postmates is a 5 year old company now, so I don't have any inside information on this.

      If I recall correctly, Postmates first started out as a courier service where you can ship things on-demand from one place to another, and only after they achieved some scale on the supply side did they expand into food. The courier community wasn't one that a lot of other companies were trying to capture at the time. I suppose the takeaway here is to find an untapped community and capture that first, and for Postmates it was couriers.

      6 Share
      • AL

        Arsene Lavaux

        6 months ago #

        Thank you for your great insight Siqi.

        Interesting to notice the "pivot" and the focus on the supply side to build liquidity into the two-sided marketplace.

        Wishing you plenty of growth!

  • HQ

    Hila Qu

    7 months ago #

    Hi Siqi,

    Super excited to have you at GH and to learn from you :)

    Is Postmates' growth team mainly consist of engineers ? Can you share a bit the structure of the growth team and how do you operate day to day?

    You have a deep background in viral and games, and it is every app's dream to go viral. For apps that are not social by nature and are in areas that are traditionally more serious and private, for example, investment app, how do you think it can borrow some ideas from viral apps or gaming apps to fuel its growth? Do you see some good examples?

    You have been a founder yourself, and you have been key growth person/GM at successful companies, which role do you personally enjoy more:)?

    Look forward to hear your insight!

    Hila

    • SC

      Siqi Chen

      6 months ago #

      Hi Hila! Thanks for asking this.

      Our Growth team is highly cross functional, consisting of engineers, product managers, designers, and marketers. We tried to built out our team is such a way that it is as self sufficient as possible. Experimentation and learning velocity is key to success for a Growth team, and in larger organizations, having a team that isn't self sufficient increases latency of execution.

      Our Growth team is organized into three groups: Growth Product, Growth Marketing, and User Acquisition.

      Growth Product is a product engineering team responsible for building features in our core product and apps that 1) improve virality and 2) improves activation of new potential customers and couriers (i.e. getting a potential customer to their first purchase, and a courier to their first job ).

      Growth Marketing is the team that is responsible for execution of marketing across all of the free channels available to us, whether it's email, SMS, in-app, or push, and to build infrastructure tooling to make this scalable and more effective over time. The key metrics here is conversion to first delivery, and reactivation of lapsed customers and couriers.

      The User Acquisition team is responsible for continually scaling up and optimizing the effectiveness of all of our paid acquisition campaigns, and to build tooling and automation to make this more scalable over time. The key metrics here are cost per acquired customer / courier, LTV of acquired customers / couriers and of course volume.

      What you'll notice about this is that each team has dedicated engineering support, which we think is important as each team's responsibilities grows in scale.

      Hope that helps! I know you asked a few more questions, hopefully I'll come back to those before this ends today.

      6 Share
      • HQ

        Hila Qu

        6 months ago #

        This is great, thanks for sharing. I know many companies growth team in different way, but the way you organized growth team at Postmates makes a lot sense!

    • DH

      Dani Hart

      6 months ago #

      Great questions @hila_qu! I'm also curious to hear how the growth team is structured at Postmates. :)

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    6 months ago #

    Hey Siqi - great to have you on!

    What was Postmates biggest growth challenge last year in how did you address it?
    Also, what do you foresee as the biggest challenge this year and why?

    • SC

      Siqi Chen

      6 months ago #

      Hi Anuj! Great question.

      The biggest challenge for us last year was to figure out how to grow at scale. Postmates has been growing at an exponential rate as a business, and we found last year that the local on demand type of promotions that worked incredibly well for us at a smaller scale aren't as effective to drive growth at larger scales. We addressed this reorganizing our growth team to include engineering and product. At scale, your growth channels must scale with the size of your user base, and the only effective way to do that is to bake growth into your product.

      Next year, it's going to be about scaling out the growth team itself. While we still have a lot of low hanging growth fruit to address, once we get those done, our ability to grow is constrained by the velocity of experimentation, which requires us to scale up the growth team further.

      4 Share
      • AL

        Arsene Lavaux

        6 months ago #

        Siqi- Thanks again for answering my earlier question. Quick follow up question on the velocity of experimentation you mentioned here.

        Would it be possible to have a feel for the number of growth test you typically run on a weekly basis at Postmates?

        How do you see that number evolve over the next 2-3 years?

  • SK

    Sil Kreulen

    7 months ago #

    Hi Siqi,

    Great to have you here.

    I'm the kind of person that is as curious as a little child. Therefore, I don't have one, but four questions. All in relation to growth process/culture at Postmates

    1. How do you and your team approach the ideation phase? e.g. any tips and trick in relation to identifying opportunities?
    2. How do you make sure you execute as fast as possible? Any tips and tricks in relation to culture, processes, procedures etc.?
    3. What's your perspective on maximizing the learning curve within a growth (marketing) team?
    4.. If a researcher aims to dive deeper into the topic growth hacking/marketing, which specific area would you advise him to focus on? Insights in which topics could help the growth of your company?

    Thanks! Sil

    • SC

      Siqi Chen

      6 months ago #

      Hi Sil. These are great questions.

      1. I think there's pretty much 3 ways to approach ideation, and we use all of them. You can: a) look at the data b) talk to your customers and c) use the product yourself. We actually open up ideas for Growth to any one in the company - our team has a backlog that any one can add to (and they do!) This works because ....

      2. ... I've usually found that ideas are rarely the bottleneck in any product team - you always, always have more ideas that you can effectively execute on. Logically, this implies that the most important work for a Growth team (or any product team) is to prioritize well. To that end, we find it very important to build a strong bottoms-up growth model that every member of the team understands - and to use this growth model to estimate the impact of each and every idea that comes in (plug in the expected change in core metrics into the model to figure out impact). We then simply prioritize our roadmap by the expected impact divided by the engineering investment.

      3. The baseline for a strong growth culture has to be a culture of experimentation. It's okay to go by gut when ideating, but it's critical to go by data when evaluating the results of what you've built. Everything that our team does has a control group - whether it's something as big as a feature or something as small as an email. Over time, rigorously experimenting and evaluating the results of your work helps your team build a better intuition for growth.

      4. I think the biggest gap a lot of would-be growth marketers have is a solid mental model of how "it all fits together". The most helpful thing I've done in my career is to spend literally months building and rebuilding growth models from the ground up. Once you have a solid understanding of how you get your users, from which sources, which of those sources will scale with your user base and which won't, where you are losing users, why, how much, how will your ability to reach new users change as you reach scale etc - and have it all fit in your head - then you'll be able to make effective prioritization and management decisions.

      4 Share
    • DF

      Dantee Fluellen

      6 months ago #

      I'm loving these questions but yes add one more.
      What really propelled your company over the edge.

  • DH

    Dani Hart

    6 months ago #

    Hi Siqi,

    So awesome to have you here. :)

    I'm curious...
    1. What are the biggest challenges you face as the VP of Growth?
    2. How does the growth team interact with marketing, product, engineering, etc. at Postmates?
    3. Are there any feedback loops implemented at Postmates that surface customer feedback and/or internal learnings? If so, how are these facilitated?
    4. What do you look for in new hires when expanding your team?

    Can't wait to hear what you have to say.

    Cheers,
    Dani

    • SC

      Siqi Chen

      6 months ago #

      Hi Dani!

      1. The biggest challenge is to scale up the team. Once a company is big enough for a VP of Growth role, bringing on incredibly strong, talented growth product, engineers, and marketers is the primary responsibility of the job. So I consider recruiting to be our biggest challenge. That said, we are hiring. =)

      2. The Growth team at Postmates is truly a cross functional team. Marketers, product managers, analysts, and engineers are all embedded.

      3. Yes, there are a lot. User data is obviously the biggest one, but we've gone a bit beyond that. For each user and report, we can segment by whether they've submitted a support request, which type of support request, which offers / emails / promos did they receive? We also look at user reviews - we have a dedicated team to surface all of the customer feedback to us, and we prioritize accordingly to expected impact.

      4. There's a few traits that I've found correlated with success in Growth:

      1) A technical background. Doesn't have to be engineering, can be data science. But generally given that growth is such an analytical skillset, it makes sense that having technical background will give you a leg up.

      2) A creative mind. This is what makes hiring for Growth hard. You want people who are highly analytical, but it needs to be combined with more right-brained traits in order to ideate well and to comb actionable insights from the data.

      3) Growth modeling. My standard interview question is to ask someone to build a model of how growth works, for any product. It's really important that people on a growth team can fit the in-flows, out flows, and other variables that drive growth in their head. Even if you have no experience doing so, being able to logically derive this model is a huge signal.

      3 Share
  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    6 months ago #

    Hi Siqi,

    Thanks for doing this AMA with us. I'd like to know if Postmates already had a growth team when you joined the company or if you set it up? If you set it up, what was the hardest part of carving out a group of people and responsibilities for you to lead?

    • SC

      Siqi Chen

      6 months ago #

      Postmates did have a Growth team when I joined - however it was mostly a team of analysts and marketers without product or engineering support. This was an incredibly scrappy, hard working team who did the best they could with the tools given, but it's very hard to make growth work at Postmates scale without dedicated engineering and product support.

      The combined Growth team today, with marketing, user acquisition, engineering, and product under the same roof is something that I felt was important in order for Growth to be effective at Postmates, and I was fortunate enough to be given the support to help make this happen.

      The hardest part of this transition was to balance the need to build out strong growth and data infrastructure while still delivering results on a consistent basis in order to build up institutional confidence in the team. As a new team, called "Growth", you really can't be in a situation where you're not consistently delivering on that (i.e. Growth), but you also need to be building great tooling and data infrastructure to make sure you do it well.

      5 Share
  • SC

    Siqi Chen

    6 months ago #

    Hi everyone!

    I really appreciated everyone's questions here, and thank you for having me. I hope I was at least a little helpful.

    I'll be heading out now but when I find a spare minute over the next few days I'll be happy to answer a few more questions.

    Thanks again!

    - Siqi

  • JF

    Jordan Finger

    6 months ago #

    Top 3 acquisition/growth marketing trends you envision for 2017 for best use of acquisition marketing budget?

  • AA

    Aldin A

    6 months ago #

    Hi Siqi,

    Great to have you here.

    1) Can you talk about the challenges of scaling a market place and how you've over come these challenges at Postmates?

    2)In your opinion what are the key metrics for service based marketplaces (ex postmates), and product based marketplaces (etsy)?

    3)What are the most important lessons you've learned in career about marketplaces and business in general?

    Thanks

  • NS

    Nael Shahbaz

    6 months ago #

    Hi Siqi,

    1. How do you keep your and your team's enthusiasm up?
    2. Any pointers on problem solving tactics?

    • SC

      Siqi Chen

      6 months ago #

      1. Move fast and deliver results. Nothing motivates a team like winning. This implies that you have your team have done a good job of prioritizing things based on ROI, are executing quickly, can accurately measure the results (against control groups) and every once in a while, are right. =)

      2. This is pretty broad - I'll say that having a diverse source of data usually helps when I'm stuck on a problem. If I can't figure something our from the data, maybe talking to a user helps. If I can't reach the user, maybe looking at a different source of data helps.

      3 Share
  • KA

    karim Abd El Kader

    6 months ago #

    Thanks Siqi for conducting this AMA, i really love your diverse experience in gaming and on-demand industries.

    I have 2 questions; the first one; What are the best growth strategies for multiplayer card games?

    The second one; i am working on on-demand food delivery startup we succeeded in decreasing the user-acquisition cost and conducted a successful referral concept but we do want to go aggressive in our growth as our operations won't be able to cope. It will highly appreciate if you can share best practices for on-demand services' operations, supply management and logistics. (sharing links will be much appreciated)

    Thanks again for conducting this AMA.

    Warm Regards,
    K.

  • JD

    James Dunn

    6 months ago #

    Hi Siqi
    Postmates recently launched virtual gift cards.
    Why not physical ones (too)?
    Also what did you see in the data that told you this initiative would move any business numbers in any significant way?

  • SK

    S Kodial

    6 months ago #

    Hey Siqi

    Can you talk about an experiment at Postmates that was either a big win or one that yielded some big insights you didnt have before?

  • JM

    Jason Meresman

    6 months ago #

    Hi Siqi - Thanks for doing today's AMA!

    What pre-requisites does an organization need to have in place in order to set themselves up for success with growth? For example, specific skill-sets, metrics, executive buy-in, etc.

    • SC

      Siqi Chen

      6 months ago #

      Hi Jason! Thanks for having me here.

      #1. Product market fit. Growth is a force multiplier, but you need to have something great to multiply first for Growth to be effective at all.

      #2. Solid, validated product analytics. This isn't usually there in most organizations without an existing growth culture or team, so in the absence of great data:

      #3. Strong executive buy-in. In the absence of great data, the growth team needs to be empowered to change the culture and buy enough time to make the data culture and data implementation solid. This is often difficult since it's hard to deliver results without great data.

      #4. Investment in the team. Our Growth team would not be 10% as effective as it is without dedicated product and engineering support. This also requires institutional buy-in, but it's also the #1 thing that we've done that I would attribute our success to.

      3 Share
  • TS

    Terence Strong

    6 months ago #

    Hi Siqi!

    Thanks for doing this!

    How many AB tests does your company run per week ?

    • SC

      Siqi Chen

      6 months ago #

      Not nearly as many as we'd like.

      At any given point in time we probably have about a dozen live experiments, not counting the many dozens of marketing messages and comms we always test on a weekly basis. The biggest bottleneck here is scaling up the team and our processes to get better at this.

      4 Share
  • MH

    Matt Helbig

    6 months ago #

    Hey Siqi,

    Big fans of the Postmates email strategy and design https://reallygoodemails.com/tag/postmates/

    Have you run any tests recently on your emails to boost growth? Any results that you can share?

    What kind of triggered campaigns are running at Postmates (Welcome 1,2,3 | If purchased x, send y | subscriptions | birthday | referral | etc)

    What is missing from your email strategy? OR What do you feel could be improved on?

    How do you go about personalizing your emails? What's an unsuccessful campaign that you ran?

    Thanks a bunch!

  • ES

    Edward Stephens

    6 months ago #

    Hi Siqi,

    Great to have you on!

    A couple of questions from me:

    1) What have you done to streamline the collaboration between the product, engineering and marketing teams? Have you had any approaches that have worked poorly vs some that have worked well?

    2) When developing consumer product how do you prevent feature creep and prioritise the balance between aesthetics and functionality?

    3) What is the most frustrating and rewarding part of working with focus on Growth?

    • SC

      Siqi Chen

      6 months ago #

      1) I think the key here is to make sure teams are self sufficient. My thesis is that any time there's a disconnect between the people who need work done and the people who can do the work, bad things happen. This is why we have dedicated engineering, design, and product resources for our marketing and user acquisition team.

      2) This is a great question. You need to have a strong core design / product team to counterbalance the growth team. In fact, a lot of my motivation for wanting to split out Growth Product into a separate team from our consumer product team was driven by this. I believe that Growth teams should be an intensely data driven, hard nosed team ruthlessly prioritizing based on impact. I also believe that core consumer products teams should have the space to be more of a data informed team that's more driven by user sentiment and strategy, and they should work together as coequal branches of government to make sure that 1) the core product is growing and 2) Growth is making the product awful.

      3) The most rewarding part is when you look at the core metrics divergence on a successful split test, and understanding how a small feature can fundamentally change the shape of your business. The most frustrating part is when you do a bunch of things in a row that you expect to work that end up not working. =)

  • PJ

    Prateek Jain

    7 months ago #

    How would you scale the women's category in jewelry e-commerce where the skew is 80% men and 20% women and 90% traffic is from facebook?

    TIA.

  • JX

    John Xie

    6 months ago #

    Hi Siqi, was a big fan of Heyday. What do you see as some web and mobile web trends for 2017?

  • RB

    Ry B

    6 months ago #

    Hi Siqi,

    Thanks for doing this ama!

    1)How do you look at competition, specifically when you're going up against bigger, and better-funded competitors? How does that affect your strategic plan, if it does at all? What is your mindset when you go to compete against the 800-pound gorillas in your space? How do you compete effectively against them?

    2)How do you look at hiring? Can you talk about some of the mistakes you've made hiring (and also seen others make)? What have you learned about hiring A+ talents?

    3)What are traits a manager needs to bring out the best in their employees?How did you go about empowering employees at the companies you've founded?

    • SC

      Siqi Chen

      6 months ago #

      Hi Ry, thanks for having me here.

      1) This is cliche, but we really don't spend a lot of time worrying about competitors. Postmates is fairly differentiated product because you can get anything from anywhere, and being focused on our couriers, customers, and partners has kept the company in the lead so far.

      2) My formula for evaluating talent is: talent = skill X ability_to_execute. You obviously need a baseline for skill (and I've mentioned some of the ways I evaluate skill in a few other answers here), but skill doesn't matter if the candidate doesn't have the relationship and communication skills to get things done in a large team.

      Generally for a team to work well together and get things done, you want to have bring people in who have low ego, are willing to compromise, but also has expertise in a domain that will earn the respect of the rest of the team, and that's how we've tried to build out our Growth team here at Postmates.

      3) Be really great hiring and evaluating talent. Your job as a manager is very easy when you have great people. Once you've done that, then your second job is to setup systems to make sure that the right things get done quickly. This is a combination of rigorous, data driven prioritization, and low overhead / lots of autonomy once prioritized.

  • TF

    Tommaso Fornoni

    6 months ago #

    Hi Siqi!

    I'm a young web-enthusiastic who is trying to understand as much as I can of the growth hacking world.

    I've just a simple question:
    Can you suggest me a particular book or guide or whatever you've found inspirational for what you do?

    Thank you for this AMA!

    • SC

      Siqi Chen

      6 months ago #

      Hi Tommaso, thanks for the question.

      I think there's a lot more these days, but the only great resource that existed for Growth when I was starting our was Andrew Chen's blog, and I still consider that to be the best source of information to get started with Growth: andrewchen.co

  • MS

    Michael Scott

    6 months ago #

    Hey Siqi,

    Thanks for answering questions today - super excited to have you on GH.

    For someone starting out their careers in Marketing/Growth - 1). What advice would you give your younger self (readings, skills,etc)?
    2)How have you created and nurtured your Growth Culture at Postmates?
    3) Your favorite book of 2016?

    Thanks!

    • SC

      Siqi Chen

      6 months ago #

      Hi Michael! Thanks for having me here.

      1) I think having a technical background is super useful in a Growth role, as is being able to systematically break down a problem into components, as you would need to do to build a Growth model. There really isn't a whole lot of established literature on Growth - most of what I've learned I've either learned from my cousin Andrew Chen or from building my own products and trying to get it to grow.

      2) Build out a strong team that enjoys working together, and deliver results that we can all be proud of. That's pretty much it. One of our values as a Growth team is "We ruthlessly deliver results." As a team, we believe we are only as good as the last successful experiment we've shipped, so we strive to maintain a pace of consistent improvement and high velocity. Nothing helps build a strong culture than winning and delivering results.

      3) Sapiens (non-fiction). Death's End (fiction)

      3 Share
  • LK

    Lars Kamp

    6 months ago #

    Hi Siqi,

    Can you shed some light on how the role of "data" as part of your growth and user acquisition strategy - similar to your colleagues in operations:

    https://blog.postmates.com/making-postmates-even-more-efficient-690aacb7fad6#.js8wqu365
    https://blog.postmates.com/estimating-delivery-times-a-case-study-in-practical-machine-learning-e70f677e736c

    Are there similar approaches for the user side of the business? If so, what are the components? (data sources, tools, team members, etc.)

    Cheers,
    Lars

    • SC

      Siqi Chen

      6 months ago #

      Hi Lars!

      Data is the foundation of everything we do in Growth. One of our values in "Measure First, Measure Always." We use data to prioritize, and we rigorously report on the impact of everything that we build.

      All of our product specs require analytics and reporting to be spec'd out, and we have extremely detailed documentation on naming conventions for events. Validating events is the job of each product owner and is required for verification before we ship.

      In terms of tooling: we pipe user stream data to mParticle, which we then forward on to Amplitude for product analytics, and Appboy for Growth Marketing purposes. From there we either manually pull reports via Amplitude, or for more sophisticated data needs we ask our dedicated analysts to generate a report.

      2 Share
  • SM

    Sean Martin

    6 months ago #

    We are trying to better target and streamline our lead nurturing campaigns through our gated content - we are planning different levels of popups, macro conversions, and micro conversions that each segment into individual lead nurturing cadences to better fill out our pipeline.

    But how can we better use our gated content to increase conversions? what are some good micro conversions with a lower friction rate that should increase our form submission rate?

  • SM

    Sean Martin

    6 months ago #

    Does it seem smarter to allocate a link building team to just client accounts while you maintain a singular growth marketer for your own website? Or would a three man team with link building that handles all accounts including clients and your own campaigns make more sense? We are trying to divide labor between technical seo/technical link building, lead generation/content creation, lead nurturing/content promotion.

    Is this a faulty model or does this seem to make sense?

  • IA

    Imran Alam

    6 months ago #

    please give some guidelines on offline-online (hybrid) growth hacks?

  • DB

    Daeshawn Ballard

    6 months ago #

    Hi Siqi,

    Thank you for doing this AMA. Being in the Pittsburgh market, I tend to see a lot of demand for orders around lunch time, but not a ton of drivers. Having done Postmates and talking with other drivers myself, parking in Pittsburgh really demotivates deliveries at this time from what I've learned.

    1. What lessons have you learned from scaling in a city where infrastructure offers unique challenges?

    2. How do you retain one side of the marketplace (customers) whose experience is disrupted due to the other (a Postmate)?

    Thank you

  • EJ

    Edwin Joassart

    6 months ago #

    Hi Siqi

    First, thank you very much for having this AMA!

    What kind of advice would you give to enter the asian market for a mobile game company ?

    -- Our musical game - PlayGround music at your fingertips (free on ios)- got a natural traction in JP & CN. We'd like to expand there but has no clue how to approach that market.

    E.

  • JS

    June Swatzell

    6 months ago #

    I am making a card game like Mille Borneo with my 11 year old grandson, we are beginning by making cards - do you know of any tutorials that can help us. I see you made a game yourself. Thank you, June

  • JS

    June Swatzell

    6 months ago #

    It should be Mille Bornes not Borneo.

  • JS

    Jared Schaffer

    6 months ago #

    Hey Siqi,

    Thanks for doing the AMA. Off-topic question: What's next for Famous?

  • SK

    Sandeep Khode

    6 months ago #

    Hi Siqi,
    Thanks for the AMA.

    Can you please share your opinions about growing customer base at various locations? As postmates is operating over various areas, how did you manage to scale growth to those areas?

    Thank you.

  • AM

    Anas Mirza

    6 months ago #

    Hey Siqi

    Thanks for doing AMA.

    I want to know the biggest lesson you have learned till now in terms of new user acquisition.

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