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Photo by Whitney Combs on Unsplash

“How does my growth rate compare to other companies?”

That’s a question I get asked often in the course of my job as a growth advisor working at a VC firm and until now lacked specific benchmarks to answer objectively. Many times, I had to resort to anecdotal feedback. As someone who prefers data-driven answers, I aim to do better and am excited to share the results of a recent project.

I had two goals:

  • determine bands for year-over-year revenue growth relative to when a company began
  • put that growth in perspective by comparing it to the capital used to achieve…


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As a growth advisor to over 70 startups at Madrona Venture Group, I’m involved in discussions like this all the time:

“Facebook and Google are too expensive and it’s doing horrible things to my CAC — what other channels are working for people?”

In many cases, I bring up podcasts as I have seen them be successful with many types of companies.

Podcasts are one of the few channels I’ve seen that can satisfy both brand and performance marketers. …


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Over a Weekend and for Under $1000

Most startups fail. Debates about why are nearly as old as Silicon Valley itself. Some argue it was the team and its inability to execute, while others point to the lack of a market for an idea.

Both are critical in achieving ‘product market fit’, but a CB Insights post-mortem study found that ‘no market need’ was the #1 reason for failure.

Entrepreneurs put their heart and soul into these ideas (not to mention their capital), and in many cases the pain of a failed startup could have been avoided with some customer research up front.

In this post, I am going to share three relatively inexpensive tests I’ve used while working at a VC to quickly learn about the market demand for startup ideas. …


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Meal Kits are one of the fastest-growing consumer categories lately and one that I have looked at both as a customer and as part of a venture firm. I’m clearly not the only one paying attention. Tech Crunch reported that sales in the category were already over $1bn and it would not surprise me at all for two or even three billion $ exits to come from the category.

Many have already pored over Blue Apron’s recent S1 filing and surfaced some interesting findings. This is not another of those posts (read this if that’s what you’re looking for). …


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Most startups understand the importance of customer data, but few believe they have enough people working in data-related roles. I see this with startups I work with and also in studies that point to a data engineering shortage.

Though I can’t solve this shortage, I did gather some benchmark data on how many resources companies of different sizes have in these areas. I was inspired by a recent Keen.io …


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Through my role at Madrona Venture Group advising startups on growth, I meet a lot of marketers using Facebook to acquire and engage with customers. It’s a powerful platform. Unfortunately, many companies are falling short of their goals and are left frustrated with what they see as unrealized potential.

Recently I began a Facebook benchmarking project with the goal of providing marketers in our portfolio with aggregate performance data on different stages of the funnel. This project used 2015 and 2016 data from companies who were targeting consumers. …


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One year ago I took advantage of a rare opportunity by accepting a ‘growth role’ at a venture firm. My job is to help our portfolio companies grow and this has given me a unique vantage point to witness the difference between successful and unsuccessful companies when it comes to growth marketing.

One thing that surprised me is that there is so much in common even when looking at companies at different stages or with different types of customers. Closely monitoring cohorts, for example, has proven to be just as important at a B2B company like Smartsheet as it has been for a company selling to consumers like Rover. …


Food tech is one of the hottest sectors around. Nearly every week, I am reading about a new company getting funding with many of them getting traction in the market. My last post was on my experience with Gathered Table and for this one I am going to review my experience with Blue Apron.

First Experience

I had read about Blue Apron and their ‘meal kit’ model before, but did not sign up until my wife and I received the direct mail piece pictured below from them in late March:

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Introduction

One of the tasks in my life most in need for a new technology is meal planning. Each week my wife or I figure out how many meals we are going to make, sort through our growing collection of cookbooks or bookmarked recipes for meals that week, and then aggregate the list of ingredients needed before trekking to the local grocery store to shop. This whole process takes at least 2 hours and it often feels like a chore to find inspiring new meals to make. Because of this, I was excited to learn about and try Gathered Table, a new Seattle startup that promises to bring more efficiencies to this very process. The food category is exploding with startups lately, but this format seemed a better fit for us than others because it offered more variety than the meal-kit options (Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh, etc.) …


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Introduction

Past readers of this blog will recognize my affection for ecommerce companies trying to disrupt and improve the ways retailers have long sold to customers. From buying glasses at Warby Parker, to selling diamonds and jewelry online at Blue Nile, to publishing a new website every day customized to your preferences at zulily, I enjoy learning about and shopping at companies who have this objective in mind. When changing fashion trends and a slimmer physique made it so I needed to purchase a new suit for an event, I was excited to give Indochino a try. …

About

Ryan Metzger

CEO, co-founder @getridwell. Prev @MadronaVentures, @zulily. Fan of Northwestern, the Seahawks, and any news on the return of the Sonics.

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