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Welcome to our first HireMe AMA. Aaron Upright bravely stepped up to be the first for this open source interview format (so be nice). Whether you are hiring or just want to learn more about Aaron, feel free to post questions. How could you go wrong hiring a guy with "Up and to the Right" in his name!

Here's Aaron's Bio...

Aaron Upright is a Growth Rookie with a background in digital strategy and inbound marketing. He graduated from the University of Alberta this May with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, and is looking to continue learning in a junior level growth role. In addition to being an active member of the Growthhackers.com community, Aaron is an avid writer, and has twice contributed pieces to Canada’s largest Tech news site, Techvibes.com. When he’s not writing or experimenting with new growth ideas, Aaron is an active member of the startup community in his hometown of Edmonton, Canada.

Aaron's Twitter: https://twitter.com/ImAaronUpright
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aaronupright

  • DM

    demetrius michael

    over 4 years ago #

    Put me out of a job: How would you double @Shopify's customer base in the next 6 months?

    • SE

      Sean Ellis

      over 4 years ago #

      FWIW, @dem_z is one of the most inspiring growth hackers I've ever spoken with. Good luck putting him out of a job :) Maybe better to go try to work with him at Shopify.

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi Demetrius, given where I'm at with my career I'd much rather work with you than put you out of a job. Even if I were to be offered your role at Shopify, I'd only do so on the condition that you could stay on as an advisor and help with knowledge transfer. I feel like I would already be starting one step behind if I didn't understand the foundation on which I was responsible for building.

      Having said that, my focus for doubling Shopify's customer base over the next 6 months would be to target college/university students. Here's why:

      -Students are traditionally broke and will jump at the chance to make a few extra dollars, especially if that involves work they can do that doesn't affect their study schedule (ex. staying up late to bartend). In that respect, the value proposition is easy to understand and directly fits with the market. I think a lot of students would jump at the chance to be able to create/manage their own online store.

      -You can take the "Build a Better Business" competition model and apply it to a college/university setting, giving away scholarships and bursaries to people with the best/most profitable ideas. On top of the money you can create by opening and running a store, this acts as an additional incentive for students—who wouldn't jump at the chance to reduce their tuition or student loan debt?

      -You can create internships and job opportunities specifically for students who are creating their own stores. In addition to making money to help pay for school expenses, you're also providing hardworking individuals with opportunities post graduation. That's a goal that a lot of students would be willing to work towards. Better yet, you now have access to an entire cohort of candidates who both understand the value and have used your product first hand.

      -You're helping to create and shape the next generation of young entrepreneurs. If there's one thing that schools need more of, it's students who graduate and want to work in a startup setting—or better yet, build their own company. By empowering these students to build their own stores, you're at the forefront of all this activity.

      I know this idea isn't fully developed, but I'd love to hear your thoughts!

      • DM

        demetrius michael

        over 4 years ago #

        @sean - Without you advocating the term, I wouldn't have a job in the first place. I'm extremely grateful. The amount of time and passion required to have people thinking of 'growth' is unreal. Building Growth hacker's is building culture - It's net positive for humanity.

        @aaronu - I think students would be really great. Thanks for taking the time to write that. There's a couple problems:
        1. How do you scale that quickly?
        2. Who pays us? The students or the universities?
        - Free is awesome, and great branding, but those ideas require a lot of time and equity to be sold internally.
        - Universities might have a really long sales cycle, which kills the quick scaling bit.

        Personally my style of funnel of growth hacking is:
        1. Come up with as many possible ideas everyday during breakfast / coffee shop / shower / etc.
        2. Building a process that's both scalable and fairly quick to implement for those ideas.
        3. Executing them.

        Since ideas or possibilities actually drive me to do work, the funnel works for me and keeps me really happy. I'm sure other hackers have pretty awesome funnels too.

        If you were to follow through with the university idea, can you go deep on the process on executing that's simple enough that you can do by yourself. I don't need long explantations, just a high level bullet-point list of the steps.

        This is my email if you feel more comfortable going back an forth on that: demetrius at shopify.com

    • JS

      Javier Sanz

      over 4 years ago #

      @dem_z When was the last time you emailed your current user base about your affiliate program?
      The 20% comission per bill, can be raised up until 50% during 1 week? and up to 60% during 24 hours?
      'Bring 10 new users, get a basic account for free for a year'?
      When was the las time you & your team did some guerrilla marketing reaching out local businesses (retail, merchants) and letting them know how much could they save just by selling online, and not having a physical place?
      When was the last time you think out of the box? ;)

      • DM

        demetrius michael

        over 4 years ago #

        @malditojavi - Really love your petite hacks website.

        20%-60% - Time to share is a really interesting metric to optimize on. Just not here, there’s two problems:
        1 - Segmenting: Our customers aren’t affiliates. Since most of them run blogs and/or are service providers, giving them more money won’t get us customers faster.

        2 - Billion dollar companies have billion dollar headaches. Half of our company is support which means minor changes can cause exponential support debt. This is probably one of those changes that edge cases like ‘grand fathering’ and ‘miss billing’ to turn into serious problems.

        Regardless, pretty impressed because you have to be pretty familiar with our platform to explore that idea.

        Guerrilla marketing - Last year, https://twitter.com/ccampb85/status/374931051941871616
        http://www.theonehourstartup.com/this-is-how-you-really-drive-traffic/
        The process was the fun bit:
        1. Post on Job boards for Flyer distribution.
        2. Email them the poster image to print themselves.
        3. Paid people per geotagged photo of the poster. Most people have smartphones, so it’s pretty easy for someone to do.

        It’s also scalable because email is easy and people can poster at their own convenience. It also beats the hell out of working some of those minimum wage jobs, so it’s a win-win.

        After a couple days I ended with a poster map that looked like this: http://goo.gl/5lCRd4 (Each pin was a poster). I scrapped this because of tracking though. I did something even cooler with postcards, but similar problems as aforementioned.

        Trade shows - A couple great people here do that. Cost per sign up is very expensive for the scale we need.

        Guerrilla is usually out because:
        1 - Hard to measure.
        2 - Hard to scale.
        3 - Expensive.

        The qualitative insight is unreal when you’re on the ground talking to customers and I usually use those conversations in my marketing copy for scalable things like paid marketing.

        Thinking outside of the box? More than you think ;) If you're ever down in Toronto, lets grab coffee.

        • MG

          Matt Gill

          over 4 years ago #

          @dem_z I've always wondered why Shopify doesn't push the 'services' storefronts more? Seems like a good way to pull a secondary user segment (non-retail) into the ecosystem. Paired with a slightly longer trial period (ending period centered around the average time to first transaction or something like that), it would be a good way to grab a lot of the craigslist consultants. Scraping CL Gigs and Services sections could be a channel to create initial dialogue with customers in that segment.

          In my experience with platform arbitrage, always a better response when the product is positioned as parallel instead of as a replacement. For a Marketplace like Etsy, Shopify enables a larger audience, as opposed to Shopify is the marketplace. I was surprised when I learned just how many of our users were using competitor apps in parallel. It changed our outlook on competitors drastically, and competitor apps actually became acquisition channels. It's not universal, but something that happens with decently high frequency.

          Have you folks played around with a purely free tier with stripped down features but increased onboarding and support? Psychologically I wonder whether the 1 month free trial actually feeds into a 'Don't have' mentality (i.e don't have time, capacity, experience, understanding/comprehension, etc). Free gets customers on the platform, gets them to build out a storefront, and when traction (hopefully) increases, you can drive the already established storefront to one of the paid tiers.

          For volume, doubling down on the small shops and pre-existing shops seems like a way to go (shorter cycles, direct communications). What's the core benefit that users with small shops report?

          As an aside, I did something similar with flyers when my previous company was expanding to new regional markets: we Fivver'd people to deliver flyers at all the major universities within the markets, and focused on people attending those universities to do the work. That way, we were actually able to get flyers into the classrooms, on desks and posted on blackboards throughout the schools. Went a long way in supporting campus ambassador efforts. Ultimately scrapped the ambassadors, but the flyer program continues.

          • DM

            demetrius michael

            over 4 years ago #

            @matthsgill These are excellent points. Lets keep in touch.

            You'll be surprised how many things Shopify tries. It just takes a lot of energy and love to get traction. If you have a product and saturate the market with it (http://goo.gl/dBWaay), how do you continue to grow?

            - Do we educate new people to the world of e-commerce?
            https://ecommerce.shopify.com/guides

            - Do we build a product to enter a much larger market? (Each of these are at least 10x the size of e-commerce).
            'Services' = Shopify thought Mobile Payments (http://www.shopify.ca/mobile).
            'Brick and Motor' = POS (http://www.shopify.ca/pos).

            - Do we market internationally?
            Through language specific landing pages? http://es.shopify.com (we have a lot of these)
            Through partnerships? http://info.singtel.com/about-us/news-releases/singtel-makes-setting-online-stores-across-region-breeze-shopify

            ....
            Free - It's tough accounting. No CFO or investor would like that. Plus, you can actually test by making things cheaper and seeing the impact on revenue. For this particular industry, I would argue that most problems aren't related to price, as business owners would pay anything as long as there's a positive ROI. Up-selling is also something we're currently weak at.

            Longer free trial - I would argue that it should be shorter, 1 day :P. That's only because I have access to a lot of data.

            "Competitors can be partners" - Agreed. Works exactly as how you imagine. We don't do this, but there could be some value by having a clear enemy to motivate your employees though. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4564CkhbM0

            Communication / support - People are expensive.

        • JS

          Javier Sanz

          over 4 years ago #

          @dem_z
          I get your point on the 'support' issue. Have you tested/tried to 'bury' those 'Email us'/'Chat with us'/'Call us' a bit deeper? I mean, they are 3-clicks aways from the main landing page, and pretty visible. Growing wildly support time I know it can damage your business (we are currently trying to fix it even with 4 dedicate colleagues only for support), but it worth the try?

          Giffgaff is a UK phone carrier that has a really cool system to provide support for their users, by their users. Everytime a user ask a question coming from another user or even a non-user-yet, that guy receives some credit / discount in his next billing. In other words, no need of more support hires, but using your current user base.

          That guerrilla movement was smart, didn't hear about it. But the 'Paid people per geotagged photo of the poster' does not make sense for me. 'You get a signup through guerrilla marketing referral, you get paid' would make sense for me.

          Have you go behind other competitors' users? Something like a '1-click export all your shop to Shopify, hassle free', would be a killer feature for user-acquisition for people not happy with their current CMS, but too lazy to start from scratch.

          • DM

            demetrius michael

            over 4 years ago #

            @malditojavi -
            Support / Worth trying - Short answer: No. At companies this size, there will always be a lot of people responsible for a lot of things. I should’ve went deeper on that reason in my last post.

            Tiff once changed the button CTA color on our home page from green to orange as a test, and it cause a pretty massive uproar. People weren’t mad at the button, they were mad that they built a process to manage chaos. Doing things the right way however not only risks the “no”, but can also take weeks before that answer is clearly communicated. People are complex.

            Giffgaff - Genius. The $ thing has been tried to death here though. Our users don’t seem motivated by money. When they sign, they want something else.

            Poster - For testing, Speed > CPA.

            Competitor’s users - LOL, yeah. We have lots of tools for that.
            http://www.shopify.ca/ecommerce-plugins/importer-tools
            http://docs.shopify.com/manual/your-store/products/import-products

            But that’s not the kind of growth hacking that’s fun for me.

            When I was targeting Etsy’s user base, we generated a bunch of crap orders so I can get everyone’s paypal emails. Then I used those emails and targeted them on marketing channels like Facebook. ETSY noticed that their users were vanishing, but they couldn’t figure out why. Now you know :P

    • JE

      Jason Ephraim

      over 4 years ago #

      Sorry to butt in here. I was looking around Shopify since I am likely to be doing one of these HireMe AMA's too. -

      An integrated branded domain shortener on all social sharing widgets (for a start)? shopif.ly is available.

      There are also lots of ways to encourage the store owner to use it. You could display the shortened URL of any page or product right next to the page name in the back end. You can directly give them the option to share their page and auto embed the shortened link. You could even add it as an API option: apps like "Social Autopilot" would love this.

      Best of all, you could implement it without affecting any existing links or services.

      Admittedly, this is only a good answer to your result if my growth audits and analysis showed enough social activity and sharing from Shopify to warrant coming up with a strategy like mine. Sorry for the elevator pitch ;)

      • JE

        Jason Ephraim

        over 4 years ago #

        @dem_z I also get what you mean about the coming up with ideas in the shower. How do you feel when the ideas don't stack up to the analysis? I usually come up with ideas after looking at the users, channels, basically the possibilities. However, it's those "Ahah" ones which come out of nowhere that can prove as exhilirating as they are (often) devistating. How do you cope with "the right idea in the wrong place"? @aaronu @malditojavi , do you guys ever experience a similar situation?

      • DM

        demetrius michael

        over 4 years ago #

        Context problem - URL shortener only really makes sense if non Shopify links need to get shortened by us. Works well for Buffer, not sure for us directly.

        We're also a white labeled solution for our merchants.

  • AU

    Aaron Upright

    over 4 years ago #

    Hey everyone - I'm still seeing updates come in around this thread so I thought I would check in with everyone and give a quick update on where I'm at :)

    2014 has been an incredible year for me here on GrowthHackers.com - it was only about six months ago that I officially created a profile and joined the community. From the moment that I submitted my first post and started seeing all the comments come in, I knew that @sean @everette @dylan @morgan @nichole and the rest of the GH team had truly created something special. Looking back on things so far, it's been an incredible journey from where I first started all the way to having the opportunity to take part in this thread here!

    After my involvement in the AMA, I was fortunate enough to land a growth role at an incredible startup called ZenHub.io. For those of you who may not have heard of us, we've built the first project management tool native within GitHub. Although I'm not a developer (and hadn't used GitHub prior) it's been an incredible experience working on a product that's outside my traditional toolset as a marketer. As a part of the job, I've also had the opportunity to move to a new city (Vancouver, Canada) which has always been a dream of mine! If any of you are ever in the area, please send me a message on Twitter - it would be great to connect!

    Looking forward, I'm really excited to see what 2015 has in store - both for me personally, and here on GH. I can't thank all of you enough for your support and advice that you've provided me with during my short time as a member of the community - like I said, it truly is a special thing to be involved in! I'm really looking forward to sharing this next year with all of you :)

    • MB

      Morgan Brown

      over 4 years ago #

      Hey @aaronu that's awesome to hear. Big congrats to you! Keep us posted on how it's going.

      One of the areas where I would love to personally learn more is in how companies market to developers. With your product, it'd be great to follow along and learn what's working for you, etc.

      Be sure to share any blog posts, etc. with what you find and best of luck in 2015!

    • DL

      Dylan La Com

      over 4 years ago #

      This is really great to hear @aaronu! Congrats and looking forward to your continued success.

    • AL

      Angelo Lirazan

      over 4 years ago #

      @aaronu great to hear back from you and congrats! :)

    • CO

      Chris Out

      over 4 years ago #

      Congrats @aaronu ! Keep us updated with your progress and good luck in 2015!

  • AU

    Aaron Upright

    over 4 years ago #

    Hi everyone! I'm really excited to be taking part in GrowthHackers.com's first ever hire me AMA—looking forward to everyone's questions and comments! My hope here is that we can generate some great discussions and really build a framework for future AMA's here in the GrowthHackers community!

    • JB

      Jon Bishop

      over 4 years ago #

      Wanted to hijack the top comment and mention that @aaronu has been doing some part time work on Growthmint.com for me (running twitter, doing outreach and research, etc.). He's been fantastic to work with.

      I'm grateful for how little direction he requires to get things done - I'm really busy outside of Growthmint (new job, etc.), so that's been very helpful.

      Something that has also been cool is his taking ownership - some people are just in it for the job, but Aaron is passionate about his work and looked at Growthmint as if it was his own product from the beginning.

      I'll let him describe specifics.

      • AU

        Aaron Upright

        over 4 years ago #

        Hi everyone! I'm still getting around to answering everyone's questions, but I wanted to jump in and provide a quick reply to @jon-bishop's post. Working (yes paid) with Jon and Growthmint has been an incredible experience from day one. Jon constantly pushes me to want to become better, and challenges me to go above and beyond what I think I can do. He took a real risk placing that much confidence in me from the beginning, but I can't tell you how much I've benefited from having ownership over the work that I'm doing.

        Although I'm paid for the work that I do, one of the biggest benefits of working with Jon has been the mentorship aspect. As an accomplished growth hacker himself, I've learned such an incredible amount from him in a short period of time. Our relationship has transcended work, and I'm able to go to Jon whenever I need advice or thoughts on a project or application that I'm working on. Despite working full-time, he's always happy to oblige and offer incredible and thoughtful feedback.

        The fact that Jon and I have been able to accomplish all of this together is a real testament to the power of this community to connect people. I wouldn't be up here giving the same depth of answers to all of your questions if it wasn't for him!

      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        over 4 years ago #

        Awesome endorsement @jon-bishop ! Has this been a paid or a free internship? The reason I ask is that if it was free, the value of the experience and your endorsement more than make up for the lack of pay. Of course, a person has to eat, so if it's paid, that's great too. Figure the answer will be helpful for other aspiring growth hackers.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 4 years ago #

    What have you built or achieved so far that you're most proud of?

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      HI Anuj, thanks for the question!

      My proudest accomplishment to date is a crowd funding campaign I had the opportunity to build and manage earlier this year. Working along side two other individuals at my university, we were able to raise over $35,000 for a school research initiative lead by a group of student engineers.

      Aside from raising the money, one of the reasons why I really enjoyed that experience was that it was one of the most dynamic teams I've ever had the chance to be apart of. Universities traditionally operate in silos, and it's not often that you get to meet/work with people from other disciplines. The two people that I worked most closely with had backgrounds in mechanical engineering and molecular biology. As a business student, it was incredible to see the project from their perspective.

      I wrote a short article about some of the other things I learned over the course of the campaign! If you're interested, you can check it out here: http://www.techvibes.com/blog/lessons-crowdfunding-campaign-2014-08-29

      • JS

        Jit Salunke

        over 4 years ago #

        That's awesome @aaronu, great work!

      • DL

        Dylan La Com

        over 4 years ago #

        This is great. Nice job @aaronu!

        Was there something in particular you and your team did to raise the money, or was it a lot of hustle and small wins?

        • AU

          Aaron Upright

          over 4 years ago #

          As with any crowd funding campaign, I believe that 90% of the work is done before it even launches/goes live. For us, that meant putting together a content calendar, setting up interviews, and building a network of evangelists (among other things).

          We came across an interesting piece of data from Kickstarter that said 90% of the projects that hit the 30% funding mark go on to be fully funded. This really hit home the importance of doing the work before hand so that we could reach that mark as soon as possible!

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        over 4 years ago #

        That is pretty cool - kudos!

  • JS

    Jit Salunke

    over 4 years ago #

    Hey @aaronu, kudos to you for taking the lead!
    My question: What would be the things you will do on your first day at job as a growth hacker?

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi Jit, thanks for the question!

      This one is a bit difficult to answer as it really depends on the type of role that you are hired into, and where the company is at in terms of growth (ex. traction, pre PM, post PM, etc.). Regardless, one of the things that I always think is important to do early on is to conduct a growth audit of the company. I would start by looking at what resources the company has to commit to growth, focusing on assets like time, money (budget), and ability (team). This will help you find those critical points of leverage and define which growth opportunities are the highest priority in the early stages. From there, you can start working on a roadmap of where to apply your efforts over the coming months to see some small-scale wins!

      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        over 4 years ago #

        Great answer... Just FYI, I created a survey template to help me get my head around new growth opportunities. You can get it free at Survey.io.

      • JS

        Jit Salunke

        over 4 years ago #

        I agree, Growth audit is a good way to start! Thanks @aaronu!

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    over 4 years ago #

    Hey Aaron, noticed you are in Canada. Are you looking for something remote, willing to relocate, or hoping to find something in Edmonton?

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      Hey Sean, thanks for the question!

      At this point in my career I think I'd benefit most from being fully immersed within the culture and office environment of the startup I'm working for. I'm more than willing to relocate to a new city (or country for that matter) or work with a company based here in Edmonton.

      Even though there are a variety of tools that are making remote work easier to manage, there are still a lot of difficulties that come from not being physically present. When I've done remote work in the past I've found working across time zones and not being able to interact face-face somewhat difficult.

      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        over 4 years ago #

        Great, thanks! Really important to be flexible early in your career. I moved to a different continent for my first growth role :)

      • DL

        Dylan La Com

        over 4 years ago #

        Agreed! Being remote is great and has it's advantages, but the lack of face to face interaction is definitely a downside...

  • DL

    Dylan La Com

    over 4 years ago #

    @aaronu what do you like most about working in growth?

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi Dylan,

      The thing that really gets me excited about working in growth is how fast everything in the industry is moving right now. The techniques we as growth hackers use are constantly evolving, and there's something new to be learned everyday! I also love how supportive people in this industry tend to be in terms of helping each other out and sharing knowledge. In a business landscape that's become so hyper competitive it's really refreshing to see!

      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        over 4 years ago #

        Fast moving industries favor the young, so great answer. Those of us with around 20 years of experience know a lot of irrelevant stuff now. Slow moving spaces are much harder to break into when you are less experienced.

  • ET

    Everette Taylor

    over 4 years ago #

    What do you feel is your biggest strength as a marketer/growth hacker early in your career? Weakest?

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      Hey Everette,

      I would say that my biggest strength as a marketer/growth hacker right now is that I'm comfortable with being uncomfortable. I realize that's a bit paradoxical, but things are rarely straightforward when it comes to growth. Sometimes the things we take as "given" turn out to be the most problematic—forcing us to adjust on the fly. Other times, the things we anticipate to be most difficult don't actually turn out to be issues at all! At this point in my career I also feel that my sense of urgency and bias towards action is a big strength.

      In terms of a weakness, I think my ability to anticipate or be 'forward looking' is lacking at this point in my career. Compared to a more experienced or senior growth hacker, I find myself operating more in the "here and now" rather than looking a few steps down the line. While it's important not stray too far from the present, it's something I hope to get better at with experience.

  • CO

    Chris Out

    over 4 years ago #

    Hi @aaronu , great that you are taking this challenge!

    My question: Your growth manager tells that you should focus on PPC. In your own research you have found that focusing on another channel would result in a much higher payoff. What do you do?

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi @chrisout!

      In my experience I've never had a conflict from challenging a manager—the caveat being that I've always done it in the most respectful and non-confrontational manner as possible. I think the key for this question would be to have the right kind of data to actually support your viewpoint. While it can be easy to argue with someone, it's far more difficult to ague with data. If the research you've done can fully support your decision than I would have no problem presenting my case.

      One thing to add to this—if you are willing to challenge what your manager has suggested (research or no research) than be read to accept responsibility for the consequences of your decision. If you're set on pursuing another channel other than PPC, you better be ready to take ownership over whatever results that decision brings—positive or negative!

      • CO

        Chris Out

        over 4 years ago #

        @aaronu , compliments for your answer. Good to see that you are data-driven, but also are willing to take full ownership for your decisions!

  • JW

    Jeremy Wallace

    over 4 years ago #

    Hi @aaronu, very cool that you took on this on - really enjoying the discussion so far.

    Question:
    If you were responsible for hiring a Growth Hacker and you could only ask candidates one question - what would your one question be?

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi Jeremy, thanks for the question!

      My go-to question is actually one that @anujadhiya already asked me in this thread! As a prospective hirer, I'd always ask people: What growth accomplishment are you proudest of and why?

      I like this question on a couple different levels, the first being that it gives people an opportunity to talk about themselves and their work. I think being able to humbly speak about your accomplishments and successes is a good trait to have in any role! When you ask people "why" it was their proudest accomplishment, I think it really gives you a sense of where their values lay. For example, do they regard it as an accomplishment because they were highly successful, because they learned something, or because it forced them to challenge themselves and break their own barriers.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 4 years ago #

    One more for you @aaronu:
    What's your methodology for running experiments & validating hypotheses?
    How do you track/communicate progress, results & learnings?

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      @jon-bishop really got me into the habit of basing my methodology for experimentation/validation on the scientific method. While it's a pretty simple framework to implement, it's immensely helpful to develop a process for testing and iterating.

      It starts off with asking a goal driven question that has a clear purpose. The next step is to construct a hypothesis around what I think the answer might be and why that is the case. I then proceed into defining some simple (but scalable) experiments that we can use to try and validate (before spending too much developing a larger test). From that small scale experiment I analyze the results and try to evaluate whether a more involved test might yield some statistically significant results.

      I like this method because it really balances time/effort/scalability with a data driven and results oriented approach!

    • DL

      Dylan La Com

      over 4 years ago #

      +1 for this quesion

  • TB

    Thursday Bram

    over 4 years ago #

    This is an awesome thing to do! Here's a question for you, @aaronu: Where do you want your career as a growth hacker to take you? What are your personal career goals, especially long-term?

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi @thursdayb, great question!

      There's a bit of a dichotomy at work here because I feel that the more experience you get, the more you get pushed into a management role, and the less time you actually spend executing. Physically "doing" the work has always been important to me, so as a young individual I'm always conflicted over whether I want to progress in my career at the expense of being hands on as a growth hacker.

      Personally, I'm not a big fan of thinking too long-term. I always get asked in interviews "where I see myself in three years", and I'm always hesitant to answer. I feel that fixating on a goal too much can prevent you from discovering other opportunities that surround you. I want to try and approach everything career wise with an open mind!

  • SE

    Sandra Edwards

    over 4 years ago #

    Why did you decide to be a growth hacker? What attracted you to it? Is there anything you don't like about it?

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi Sandra, love this question.

      Having an academic background in business, I spent most of my time in university learning marketing/strategy from the perspective of big time corporate entities—Coca Cola, P&G, etc. While I was spending time in the classroom learning about how marketing VP's allocate (cough, waste) multi-million dollar advertising budgets, all around me were companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Snapchat that were exploding and acquiring millions of new users for nothing.

      It's amazing to realize that academia can't even keep up with the pace that these companies are moving at—it's just not feasible to put together a lesson plan or textbook before that information becomes outdated. Realizing that I was never going to learn about growth in a formal academic setting, I took it upon myself to learn.

      It was through that self discovery process that I really fell in love with growth hacking and decided that I wanted to turn it into a full-time job.

  • KW

    Kevin Waugh

    over 4 years ago #

    If you came into a growth role, what would you do to keep yourself on top of the subject? (I ask similar questions to candidates in the field I interview them in)

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi Kevin,

      I've been in a constant state of learning for the majority of my life, and I don't plan to stop. I think approaching life with that attitude is one of the most important things you can do in terms of both professional and personal development.

      When I reflect back on some of the most profound learning moments of my life thus far, they have all been through interactions with other people. In that respect, I think one of the most important things that a growth hacker can do in terms of keeping up with the industry is to be constantly engaged with other growth hackers—whether it involves being a part of a community like this, or shifting the conversation offline!

  • JE

    Jason Ephraim

    over 4 years ago #

    Do you have any preferred software tools or services?

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi Jason, thanks for reaching out!

      While a lot of people in the space might be able to provide you with a list of tools that they use on a regular basis to help them manage their growth, I'm unable to do so. Mainly because I'm not convinced I've even found the right set of tools for myself.

      At this point in my career my two biggest focuses are on learning and experimentation. Over the course of the past six months, that's resulted in me testing a variety of different paid/free tools—some that I wouldn't hesitate to use again, and others that I would pass on.

      As I'm still experimenting to find the right set of tools that works for me, it's hard to give an answer. While I love tools like Optimizley, Unbounce, KISSmetrics, and Qualaroo, I'm not sure if I've fully realized the full value that these platforms/services provide. Therefore, I'd be hesitant to label them as "preferred".

      Reach out to me on Twitter or Email and we can chat more about this! As someone who is learning, I'm always interested to see what other people are using!

      • JE

        Jason Ephraim

        over 4 years ago #

        No problem, @aaronu!
        I'm probably in an upcoming round of these AMA's, so I am really asking out of curiosity and for comparison. I saw a lot of questions about where you look for things, and what you look for. I wanted to get an idea of how you look. Followed you on twitter, so we can carpool to PTSD sessions after my AMA.

  • LS

    Logan Stoneman

    over 4 years ago #

    Hey @aaronu thanks for joining our first HireMe AMA! Loving your answers so far.

    My 2 questions:
    1.What book would you recommend for your entire future team to read?
    2. What is something that people describe you as that is, in fact, not true?

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi @loganstoneman!

      1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho - while this is a far departure from a typical growth or business book, it has some incredible powerful lessons about personal journeys and following your dreams. I read it once when I was a child and again when I was older—each time I got something different out of the book, but in both cases the lesson was very powerful.

      2. Some people might describe me as risk adverse, but I'd like to think that's not true. I've taken several large risks throughout my life (ex. dropping out of school and re-enrolling in a different faculty), but there has always been an element of calculation to them.

      "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it"

      • BH

        Bertrand Hazard

        over 4 years ago #

        @aaronu

        Great choice of book.

        For someone who might be described as risk adverse, you are doing a pretty great job at welcoming feedback and being "grilled" by some of the toughest marketers.

        Good luck with your job search. I have no doubt you'll land somewhere. Just make sure it's the right fit for you.

      • LS

        Logan Stoneman

        over 4 years ago #

        Hey @aaronu - interesting choice in "The Alchemist", it's also my favorite book. Often people choose books about 'how to get rich' but philosophy and psychology books can be far more powerful.

        Good luck on the job hunt.

  • AU

    Aaron Upright

    over 4 years ago #

    Hi again everyone! Taking a bit of a break for a while to let the writers cramp subside ;) I'll be back on tonight for more answers - keep the questions coming!

  • ZV

    Zoran Vitez

    over 4 years ago #

    You're in a pre PM startup. To join your growth hacking of 1, you are given the option and just enough funds to hire a junior level:
    - data scientist
    - behavioral scientist
    - copywriter
    - CROptimizer
    - office dog

    Which would you pick?

    • JE

      Jason Ephraim

      over 4 years ago #

      I had the weirdest Zork flashback on this one
      >upvote @zvitez

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi @zvitez, thanks for the question!

      Given the opportunity to hire any one of those positions, I'd absolutely go for a data scientist/mathematics background. I have several friends from university with a finance/math background and they are all incredibly smart and analytical people. Both the way that they work and approach problem solving is a total fit for an early stage startup. I also think a data driven background is the best compliment to my skill set as a more creative thinker. In addition to working with that person, there's also an incredible opportunity to learn from them—something that's very important to me!

  • DN

    Duylam Nguyen-Ngo

    over 4 years ago #

    Hey Aaron! What is the difference between a junior level growth hacker vs a senior level growth hacker? Experience? Is there a noticeable difference in your manager's mindset vs. yours?

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      HI Duylam, thanks for reaching out!

      While there is more than one answer here, I think the biggest difference between a junior level growth hacker and a more senior one is proven/tangible results. In the early stages of their careers, most junior hackers like myself are often unproven and can't come to the table with a portfolio of wins/past successes. For larger companies looking to hire in a growth role (especially post PM fit) that can be a deal-breaker. Having said that however, I think there's a lot of value to being unproven in growth.

      First off, companies in the early stages of growth really need someone who is willing to role up their sleeves and do the work themselves. Junior level growth hackers are often some of the best people to do this work, as they're hungry to make a name for themselves and have the hustle and drive to pull it off. While they don't have a wealth of experience to draw from, they want YOUR company to be the one they make a name for themselves with.

      In terms of mindset, I think the biggest difference is that junior level growth hackers are willing to try almost anything to get results—partly because they don't know any better. Senior level growth hackers might be inclined to shy away from certain tactics/channels that they haven't seen success with in the past. This can be a bit dangerous as every startup is different. Just because it did/didn't work in the past doesn't mean it can't/won't work now.

      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        over 4 years ago #

        Absolutely agree with your last sentence!

      • ZV

        Zoran Vitez

        over 4 years ago #

        What about tasks you can't perform by yourself? Would you know how to work with developers, designers, sales people, to pull it off? Would you know how to put yourself in a manager's shoes if needed?

        • AU

          Aaron Upright

          over 4 years ago #

          Hey @zvitez!

          As I'm still very early into my career, I've made a point of getting comfortable reaching out to people for help/asking questions. I've also made it a point to know enough in each of those areas that I can ask the right type of questions and articulate what I truly need help with when I am reaching out to those individuals (so I don't waste my time and theres).

          In terms of the management part of your question, I think that depends on what stage of the startup cycle the business is in. In the early days (pre PM fit) I don't think the ability to manage people is a highly relevant or necessary skill. Most of the work for a growth hacker at this level should be hands on, rather than coordinating other people/hackers. If needed I would be comfortable providing direction, but there are few cases where I would see that needing to happen.

          Thanks again for the question!

  • AL

    Angelo Lirazan

    over 4 years ago #

    Hi Aaron! Thanks for doing this AMA. :) Great to see. Good luck with the job hunt!

    Here's a question:
    1) Let's say you're working for a small B2C e-commerce company with ZERO online marketing efforts. If I gave you $100, how would you spend it?
    2) What if you had $500, would the answer change?

    • MB

      Morgan Brown

      over 4 years ago #

      If someone gave me $100 as a marketing budget I'd tell them to save it and buy us pizza and beer instead and then go run some other marketing programs.

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi Angelo, thanks for reaching out!

      Based on your question (and your business) I'd probably tell you to keep that $100/$500 marketing budget and re-focus your efforts into customer development. As a small B2C e-commerce company that hasn't hit PM fit, it's unlikely that any marketing effort is going to generate the type of financial returns you're looking for.

      Instead, I'd suggest getting out of the building and going to talk with potential customers/users. Explain to them your core value proposition and see if it resonates with them and if they understand it. Ask them questions about your business/service, and see if there are any natural barriers that might prevent people from using it.

      Once you've done that, look at spending you budget on some customer development activities that have the ability to scale a little further. Although $600 wont get you much in terms of paid research, you might be able to set up a few short surveys that you could send out to people to get even more feedback.

      If you still have money after all of that, I like @morgan's idea of pizza and beer!

      • AL

        Angelo Lirazan

        over 4 years ago #

        Great answer. I have high hopes for you getting a position somewhere. Your choice to focus on achieving PM fit, customer development, and scalability is wise. I'd consider a company lucky to have you on board. Again, best of luck on the job hunt!

      • JE

        Jason Ephraim

        over 4 years ago #

        I like your strategy. Evernote style

  • TW

    Tommy Walker

    over 4 years ago #

    When thinking about "growth", how would you describe the mindset that is necessary for success, and how would you inspire a team to adopt that mindset?

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi Tommy!

      For me personally, a successful "mindset" revolves around being able to take a step back and think of growth opportunities in terms of both scalability and sustainability. If the growth opportunity you're pursing can't scale with your userbase then chances are that it wont lead to the returns that you're looking for. Along the same lines, opportunities that aren't sustainable might jeopardize the long-term results at the expense of short term wins.

  • RS

    Rob Sobers

    over 4 years ago #

    How would you assess your technical and creative skills? Give yourself a score 1-10 on the following:

    1.) Lightweight development (HTML, CSS, JS)
    2.) Copywriting
    3.) Design

    (Bonus points for pointing to online evidence of something you built that includes all 3! ;-)

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi Rob, thanks for the question. This is always difficult to answer, but I'll try and be as objective as possible and let you judge for yourself:

      1) 4
      2) 7
      3) 6

      The best combination of all three I can think of is my personal website (although I'm currently updating it). Check it out, I'd be interested to hear what you think: http://aaronupright.com/

      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        over 4 years ago #

        FWIW, I would rate myself 0, 7, 2. Creativity, analytical skills and pure determination are more important for driving growth. Doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to improve these skills, but I don't think potential hirers should hold it against you that those scores aren't higher.

      • ZV

        Zoran Vitez

        over 4 years ago #

        If you had a magic pill that could bring any of those up to 10, which one would you take?

  • GV

    Gary Victory

    over 4 years ago #

    Aaron, some outstanding answers.

    If you could share one growth hack you feel is essential for start ups - what would it be and why?

    • AU

      Aaron Upright

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi @gary-victory!

      I'm always cautious of answering these types of questions as I don't believe there is an "ultimate hack" that applies to all startups. If there was, I think there would be a lot more people on this thread looking for jobs! Although a lot of startups may seem similar, it's important to recognize just how different they are—what works in one business setting likely can't be copied and pasted to another.

      Having said that, I'll instead share with you one of my favourite growth hacks that I've seen. I'm a big fan of Whitney Wolfe and the work that she did to grow Tinder's user base from just a few thousand people to critical mass (and later explosive expansion). Social networks like Tinder have almost no value unless they have a large user base. At the same time, it's hard to convince new people to join a network if they can't see the value in it. Whitney's idea of targeting sororities (and then fraternities) in order to get early users on the app was critical to the explosive growth that we've all seen over the past couple of years. There's a great post that outlines her work in more detail here: https://medium.com/message/how-tinder-co-founder-whitney-wolfe-hacked-metcalfes-law-f607dddbde66

      I have a strong bias towards action, and sometimes that's exactly what it takes to grow a business in the early stages. Although human labour isn't exactly scalable, I think there's something to be said for sweat equity!

      • GV

        Gary Victory

        over 4 years ago #

        Hi Aaron

        Of course I agree, it would depend on the business venture. Her role was incredible, but even in the competitive world we are living in today, “unscalable” human labor can work like magic.

        Thanks for sharing Aaron, and I wish you all the best!

      • KS

        Kirill Sofronov

        over 4 years ago #

        Funny, I have heard male founders as well went to fraternities and tell guys, they have 100 hottest girls @ campus that are "date - ready', so they should join :)

  • MI

    Milan Ilic

    over 4 years ago #

    Hey Aaron, I wish you the best of luck.
    1. You are a head of growth in early stage SaaS startup, in the middle of the night website went down and you've just received a phone call from a teammate. You must check complains on Twitter, Facebook, other social networks, also forums etc. if you are using some software for alerts, which one would it be? How do you setup alerts etc. What is your goal to achieve at that moment?
    2. You need to organize a giveaway promotion for a SaaS. Free, trial and paid users can join the competition. The goal is brand development. What would your entry tasks be?

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