Ivan Kirigin on Growth

In the process of trying to develop a better professional version of myself, Lai 2.0, I enrolled in a three month immersion program in San Francisco to learn more about growth.

Growth Marketing, that is.

Coming from a non-marketing background, I had lots of questions. What is growth marketing? How do I become a growth marketer? How do I grow a product?

To get the answers to some of these questions, I consumed as much insight as I could from the blog posts of respected growth practitioner, Ivan Kirigin. For some background, Kirigin graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Masters in Robotics. He went on to co-found micropayments services, Tipjoy, prior to accepting a position with Facebook. Later, Kirigin joined Dropbox, where he helped to drive growth 12x over two years. Currently, he has founded and is working on his company, YesGraph.

In the simplest terms, a growth marketer is someone who is extremely analytical, proficient in a varied set of hard skills, but also employs creativity and curiosity to find solutions to move their product forward. According to Kirigin’s AMA on Reddit, the title of a “marketer” or “growth marketer” isn’t what matters. What matters is whether an individual understands their product well enough to create a good user experience and to help implement product changes. For Kirigin “a ‘product manager’…is the most appropriate title for someone working on growth.” He emphasises that to be a superb growth marketer, honing technical skills is vital and will make for a more marketable, no pun intended, candidate when job hunting.

To answer the question of how to grow a product, Kirigin believes that there is no silver bullet. Every company is different and requires a different set of tactics to help move the needle. However, when trying to grow a product, Kirigin employs three approaches taken from his time at Facebook. To grow, you: measure, test, and deploy. What does that mean, Mr. Kirigin?


To grow a product, Kirigin insists that you must first align your team to a goal. Because there are huge datasets that will readily inundate an analyst, the easiest and most important step is to first decide on one or two metrics to measure. Once these metrics are decided upon, the next step would be to measure reality! That is, measure everything that is occurring with your users at each step of the funnel. In a presentation that Kirigin gave to Heavybit Industries, he explains this as “get[ting] a grip on whatever is going on.”


Once measurements are taken and compiled, the next logical step would be to brainstorm as many ideas as possible on how to prevent users from falling out of each step of the funnel. But how do you know which ideas to test out? At this point, Kirigin says that it’s important to choose by analyzing the cost-benefit of each method and how it relates back to the original goal. He asks “What would [the] actual impact [of] the actual thing you’re trying to do as a company be?”


Lastly, after multiple measurements and experiments are carried out, the final step would be to take your learnings and apply what works. Or, retest additional ideas if your results were unsatisfactory. Is it really that easy? Kirigin admits that “it sounds simple, but operationally there’s a lot more detail that helps out with that.”

It would appear from reading Kirigin’s blogs that he applies a very methodical and scientific approach towards growth. However, one surprising quote that I leave you from Kirigin is “if you want something, if you want your users to do something, ask them.”

For more in-depth musings on growth, follow Kirigin on Twitter.

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