Top 10 Takeaways from the GGV User Growth Masterclass

by Jason Costa

A “Masterclass” is a GGV program focused on a functional discipline (Engineering, Design, Marketing, etc.), in which we’ll bring in domain experts across US and China who can share learnings, lessons, and best practices with members of the GGV community.

Casey (L) & Omar (M) discuss different growth approaches with GGV EIR, Jason Costa (R)

Earlier this week, GGV hosted another masterclass in San Francisco — this time focused on User Growth. We had two fantastic speakers join us for the event: Omar Seyal (head of discovery at Pinterest), and Casey Winters (growth advisor to Airbnb). We invited several leaders from Growth, Marketing, and Product roles to join us for the evening. During the discussion, we covered everything from product market fit and user acquisition, to conversion and retention. Below are the top 10 takeaways from our conversation.

The Top 10 takeaways:

1) Growth teams exist for a reason. The core product team focuses on creating or improving value for users. Growth focuses on connecting more people to that existing value of the product. The latter is more iterative & analytical: growth runs far more experiments or “shots on goal”.

2) Growth is different from a traditional marketing team. Marketing tends to focus on brand, narrative and positioning. Organically growing your product requires working directly with the core product team: marketing teams typically don’t have access to this part of the organization to implement such product changes.

3) Retention is product market fit. Your retention curve is going to flatten somewhere. So for some set of customers, they’d be mad if your product went away. You want to grow this volume of customers. Revenue growth, being #1 in the App Store, & lots of user growth are not product market fit.

4) If you don’t have product market fit, don’t think about growth. Only scale usage of a product that has already achieved product market fit. Else, you should be ruthlessly focused on finding product market fit first; if you don’t, you’re just delaying death.

5) You must grow with a certain level of retention. It’s important to acquire enough users at less than the revenue you make from them. If you’re not making money, you should be growing this cohort without spending money.

6) First, analyze the data. This means that you really have to dig in on the existing data, in order to understand where the real opportunities are. This tells you where to start.

7) There are three ways to grow your product. In this order: Growth product (“free”, measurable, scalable), performance marketing (paid, measurable, scalable), and brand marketing (paid, non-measurable, non-scalable).

8) You want to have impact with what you do. This means that any product change you push should affect a lot of users (or non-users). If the base of users impacted is small, no rate will be meaningful.

9) Iterate on winning ideas. Once you find a winning idea that drives visible growth returns, iterate on that idea a ton! And then keep iterating and polishing it until you simply can’t anymore.

10) Growth team structures change over time. To start, a Growth team might just be one dedicated engineer & designer. After some wins, getting resources becomes easier. Eventually, the team needs a PM and analyst, plus more engineers & designers.


At GGV, we regularly host these events across a variety of disciplines, and will continue to host more in the future. If you’re interested in learning more about these events, please subscribe to our newsletter here.