How to build a Growth Hacking Team?

Now that we all know the basics of Growth Hacking, it’s time to dig a little deeper. Emmi Tervala and Anton Ikola from Columbia Road shared their knowledge on Monday of building a winning team in the second part of the GrowthHacking Event Series.

So, what makes a great Growth Hacking Team?

First, having fearless attitude towards learning new things, because Growth Hacking is all about experimenting. Also, noticing that not all can or should be Growth Hackers.

Growth Hacking Team is a multidisciplinary team of talents. Even though most pictures have four people, it can be a team of 1, or 10. According to Columbia Road, growth should not be outsourced. External help might be needed to get things started, but Growth Hacking needs to come from within. 

Growth owner is the team leader who is responsible for growth. They are process driven, analytical, creative and T-shaped. They also need soft skills and a thick skin. Designer has customer empathy, loves A/B-testing and knows front-end coding. They have the mentality of shipping fast and fixing later. Developer also shares that mentality. For developer, tech is a tool, not the product. They do fast iterations and are data-driven. Marketer & analyst does inbound marketing, handles small and large data sets and has back-end understanding.

Ability to make decisions and take action is also needed. The core team of Growth Hackers need to communicate with key stakeholders in a corporation, such as managers, IT owners, customer support etc. The team needs to go and speak to them to get things done. Though sometimes its easier to show results in the spirit of “do first, ask permission later”. The team needs to be doers, not talkers and sometimes approval processes just take too much time.

Making space for growth is very important, as is taking ownership. The team needs to have a strong mandate from the management, so they are able to take action where it is needed. According to Columbia Road, there is no need for a separate growth budget or tools, as the growth teams operate in the same environments like for example marketing teams. But having their own room is surprisingly important for the team, as Emmi enlightened us.

So exactly how to start a growth journey? Asking these four questions give you a good start.

1)     What do we want? Install data analytics, focus on KPIs.
2)     Who is the customer? Focus on customers problems.
3)     Where are the bottlenecks? Use customer journey map and sales funnel mapping.
4)     What are the pain points and opportunities? Align with the stakeholders and interview them.

Elina Lumppio

What is Growth Hacking?

Growth Hacking. Before Monday, I had no idea what it was. The word sounded more like putting some JavaScript into my calla lily than something I could use professionally, even though my calla needs all the help it can get. But have no fear; even if you’ve never heard of Growth Hacking, you probably know some companies that have been using it, such as Airbnb. After the grand opening of Tribe Tampere, Y-kampus and Growthmaker's Growth Hacking Event Series, Anssi Rantanen from Growth Tribe had enlightened me.

To me, Growth Hacking is something very interdisciplinary. Growth Tribe had a very good picture what this T-shaped growth hacker’s knowledge map would look like:

Growth hackers have 2-3 skills that they are specialized in, but wide knowledge of several things. With this combination of talents, they can dip their spoon into many soups and stir things up. After that, growth gets on the menu.

Essentially, Growth Hacking disrupts the walls between marketing, data analysis and coding. When there are no rigid structures and people know what their colleagues are talking about, fast-paced innovation bubbles up. And those teams, as Anssi Rantanen from Growth Tribe put it, “get sh#t done!”.

Growth hackers also get deeper into the “Pirate Funnel” (which has got to be one of the best names in the history of time). They don’t just bring people to the threshold like a lot of digital marketers do, but get to know every step of the customer experience.

The one takeaway from Anssi Rantanen's presentation would definitely be testing. Spray that paper with ideas, rank them, evaluate and then test the best. Usually you get one idea, cherish it and then take it into practice. In Growth Hacking, it's no mercy for any idea as they walk the plank at the pace of a treadmill. You can't really predict the winners before testing, so you need to grow your arsenal of options. As you raise the number of ideas, you also raise the likelihood of striking gold. Growth Hacking doesn't have the magical ability to immediately solve every issue you might have. It’s just simple maths of probability and the practice of strategically innovating to crack the problem.

Growth Hacking is everyday marketing of the future that you can start doing today. Growth Hacking is having the mindset of the one-man band from Aladdin. You can execute your vision right now, by yourself, or with a Growth Team if you're in a bigger company. Just remember to water your lily so it won’t die while you’re busy hacking away.

Elina Lumppio

#Growthmakers visit, Goodio and Wolt

As part of #Growthmakers we visited three companies located in Helsinki. an online advertising Saas company with a focus on customer service. Goodio, which produces healthy chocolate bars with principles of sustainability and wellbeing. Wolt, a food delivery service that in just a few years has expanded to over 32 cities. From this visit we had a lot of observations and insights from each company which you can find bellow:

4 Lessons I Learned from Richard Branson

Blog post taken from Inside Mariana's Brain follow the link to read similar posts! 

Although I mainly read non-fiction books, I was surprise to realize that I do not read many autobiographies. I have read biographies such as Steve Jobs and Elon Musk’s biography, between others. But there is something in autobiographies that just makes stories more interesting. This was the case with Richard Branson’s Finding my Virginity. The combination of adventure, business and good story telling, made this book so enjoyable to read.

What will I take from the book?

What I learned can be described from my top 4 favorite quotes found in the book.
Taking (calculated) risks and failing is okay. “If your life is one long success story it won’t make for a good read. What’s more, you’re most likely a liar. We all have ups and downs, trials and tribulations, failures and triumphs: we just hope to come out stronger on the other side.” Throughout the book Branson talks about the importance of taking risks, but not stupid risks, he highlights calculated risks. This is mentioned in chapter 12 The Rebel Billionaire. A story about the time he had his own show and he made the contestants jump from a waterfall. Everything was set to hold the contestants back in case they decided to jump but the main lesson Branson wanted to share was the power to say no to non-calculated risks.
Question everything. “Whenever you come across absurd rules, take advantage of them.” In this sense I truly enjoyed his humor. Whenever he faced absurd rules he would always find a way of showing how absurd they actually were. He also mentioned the importance of not taking ourselves too seriously.
Business is passion. “When it comes to deals like this, or any negotiations really, the key is to display passion, know-how and determination. Get to the point quickly, be persistent and consistent, and don’t rely too heavily on prompts. I went into the meeting with my notebook in my back pocket, armed with beautiful space ship pictures, a lot of enthusiasm and belief in the project.”
Story-telling “Humans communicate through stories; it is how we make sense of our surroundings, ourselves and our place in the world.” Story-telling can be found throughout the book. Branson understands the importance that communication has in business. How to get your customers to understand your brand? What I find different is that he puts his actions where his mouth is (Original quote in the book said “He puts his money where his mouth is”). This resonated with me, especially because this year I read Building a Story Brand (follow the link to read the post), and the importance of sharing your brand in a story.

Final thoughts

What inspired me about Richard Branson was that he sticks to his values. From his sense of humor to the way he runs Virgin. His leadership style is very interesting. One of the things I liked the most about his stories was how much he cares about Virgin Brand, his employees and customers. As I mentioned before he seems to be true to his values. In many occasions he had to take risks to save his business, employees, customers and he always did it according to his believes.

Another thing I want to mention is that throughout the book we find 3 key indicators that have contributed to the growth of Virgin’s brand and I strongly thing they are an important part of Branson’s personality. Taking calculated risks; as mentioned before, if you don’t try, you will never know what could have happened. Finding the right people; In many occasions when Branson was struggling he had to get out there and look for the right people that could help him solve the problem. Thirst for creation; he does not sets limits to his creativity and imagination, but the important part is that he establishes actions out of his ideas.

Overall the book was filled with facts, great story telling and many lessons. Let’s not forget that this is an autobiography. That means that this is someone’s point of view, this is just one narrative of a bigger story. Therefore, the stories might not be 100% real, but that does not take away from Branson’s personal lessons and thoughts. Taking a look inside Branson’s brain for a few hours a day is the most valuable part of this book.

With great vision comes great result: The Sulapac story

Last May, EU proposed a total ban on several plastic items to reduce the amount of throwaway plastic. What if you were told that one Finnish company can replace them all with biodegradable materials? I had a chance to interview their marketing and communications expert, Antti Valtonen.

The story is well-known if you’ve come across articles of Sulapac (and I bet you have). At the start of 2016, Suvi Haimi and Laura Kyllönen founded Sulapac after taking a look at the products on their bathroom shelves. Most of them, even the organic ones, were wrapped in plastic packaging. This moment of clarity led to the formation of their mission, a vision that still carries on to this day: saving the world from plastic waste.

The first innovation of Sulapac was the formulation of completely biodegradable material. Through the material formulation, Suvi and Laura came to another important realization that immediately set Sulapac apart: they needed to finalize the product.

 “Instead of starting to make rounds just with the idea and formula, they decided smartly to make finalized premium package prototypes that they could show to customers. Not everybody believed in their product and they wanted to show the potential of the material and how usable a package it could actually make.”

The second innovation was to make Sulapac formula easily applicable. With licensing, there was no need to build new factories and production could be easily expanded. Sulapac has own portfolio of ready-made packaging solutions, for example for cosmetic products. Sulapac licenses its material and technology for companies to produce their own products. Licensing model received a push at the end of spring 2018, when a joint development agreement was announced with widely known pulp and paper manufacturer Stora Enso. This partnership started in 2017, when Sulapac took part in Stora Enso’s Accelerator programme along Aalto University and other start-ups to ideate renewable materials.

Great innovations don’t, however, market and develop themselves. Building a right team was, according to Antti, one of the keys to the fast success of Sulapac.

“Suvi and Laura know what they don’t know. They have surrounded themselves with the right people, who have long experience both in the Finnish and global field. Start-ups don’t have that much staff, so every person needs to be the right one.”

Antti, himself, seems to be one of those people. He has over fifteen years of experience from software and telecom industry, ten of which were accomplished in global marketing and communications. He is a relatively new face at Sulapac, having joined the ranks this May. During the summer while you were perhaps chilling by the lake, Antti has been building.

“The foundations of marketing are vital, and the groundwork needs to be laid firmly. Sulapac’s mission is to be the world’s leading supplier of ecological plastic substitute. The main messages and value chain need to reflect that. We have been establishing the brand identity, taglines and so on to get all the pieces together.”

Sulapac is a surprisingly well-known company for someone who has been in the field less than three years. Which factors played into this success?

“First, the timing was perfect, since environmental consciousness is one of the largest macrotrends at the moment. Sulapac is a unique innovation which answers to the demand and from the very beginning Sulapac brand building was considered equally as important as the core material and technology. This is also an exceptional team of people with extensive amount of experience.”

With this combined international experience, Sulapac is heading abroad. First taste of that occurred in May, when Sulapac joined other Nordic designer and innovator brands at the Zero Waste Bistro at WantedDesign Manhattan.

“As we speak, Sulapac is at the global Luxe Pack event that is organized this time in Monaco. We were also last year’s Luxe Pack in Green winners for best green packaging solution.”

Winning and getting recognition in these kinds of competitions have played a large role in Sulapac’s recognizability among consumers and press.

“This visibility sparks interest in people “, Antti tells. “The product is extraordinary, and, I’m just gonna say this, awesome. This level of innovation and the buzz it creates accumulates quickly with the help of the green wave trend.”

The buzz didn’t come without a few challenges, though. Starting from buffing the injection moulding process out, Sulapac continues developing and polishing it for a larger-scale production continuously.

“Blunders and errors are present every day. Compared to bigger organizations with infinite resources, start-ups need to operate on minimal foundations. Cosmetics certainly wasn’t the easiest field to start out on, but Sulapac met the challenge head on.”

It sounds definitely like Sulapac has some highly passionate people behind the scenes. What experiences has Antti had in motivating the team?

“Coming from a corporate background with thousands of employees and a big budget, it’s certainly different, but in a good way. I think that people who like the start-up environment are also the kind of people who withstand risks and uncertainty more and think outside the box. Sulapac’s clear vision and direction helps in getting the people on board. The team has unbelievable ambition and they are truly enthusiastic about our mission to save the world from plastic waste. They can already see how we are getting there.”

Elina Lumppio