The Europe Conference kicks off in London next week. Don’t have your tickets yet? You still have time to snag them for a fraction of the at-the-door price and meet us on 6 June for a full day of speakers, startups, investors and more.
Check out this Q+A with Ilya Volodarsky, co-founder and president of Segment, and don’t miss him on the Breakout Stage at #sgeurope!
What will you be discussing at the Europe Conference?
Analytics is a core skill for founders to master, and is at the heart of every startup that finds product-market fit.
At Startup Grind Europe, I’ll explain how startups can use analytics to find product-market fit faster, use metrics to guide strategy, and leverage data-driven goals to reach key milestones more quickly.
It’s a topic I know first-hand. Eight years ago, my co-founders and I had no easy way to quantify product-market fit, and as a result we burnt through $500,000 trying to launch six different products.
Segment got there in the end, of course, and I’ll be drawing from those experiences to explain how startups can get analytics right from day one.
Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and emigrated to the United States in 1996 at the age of 7. I’ve lived in beautiful San Francisco in California for the last seven years.
In a sentence, what does Segment do?
Segment provides the customer data infrastructure that businesses use to collect, unify, and connect their first-party data to over 200 marketing, analytics, and data warehousing tools. It helps startups achieve a common understanding of their users, find product-market fit, and reach key milestones faster.
What is your mission?
To make it easy for businesses to put their customers at the heart of every decision, and deliver experiences fit for today’s digital age.
What’s one thing you’re excited about right now?
I’m really interested in the role that analytics can have in determining a startup’s survivability.
Startups go through several pivotal moments with data, from quantifying product-market fit to adopting survey methods to improve it. My theory is that a startup’s speed to each of these key milestones can determine its long-term success.
It’s a fascinating topic, and one I hope to share more on in the near future.
What moment are you most proud of in your career?
Hosting Segment Synapse, our annual user conference, in 2018. Customers like Nike, Intuit and IBM spoke about how Segment has changed their business — and at moments like that, it always amazes me to look back at where we were in 2011 and realise how far we’ve come.
What’s one thing you wish you’d done differently?
I wish I had learned earlier how to find out what customers really need, so I didn’t fall into the trap of what I thought they needed.
How do you encourage diversity within your company?
We believe that diversity is extremely important, and a key component of any successful business. To get there at Segment, we structure performance and compensation policies to remove bias in the workplace and ensure that teammates from under-represented groups have equal opportunities to develop their careers.
We also provide equal paternity leave — not only because we believe it’s the right thing to do, but also because research shows it reduces discrimination and bias against women of a child-bearing age.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing startup founders today?
It’s actually an age-old challenge: too many founders waste their time building irrelevant products because they focus on what’s possible, not what’s desirable.
Spend your time searching for unmet needs before you dive into building solutions. Otherwise, you’ll be tackling non-existent problems and creating products nobody will want to pay for.
What is one question you ask yourself before making a big business decision?
What is likely to fail if I’m wrong? And if it does fail… will it actually matter?
What is one piece of advice you’d give to other founders?
Open Slack channels with your customers, and don’t stop iterating based on their feedback!
The 2019 Startup Grind Europe Conference
The Startup Grind Europe Conference (June 6, 2019 in London) is the event for startups everywhere. #sgeurope provides an environment unlike anything else in Europe — where more than 3,000 entrepreneurs, partners, investors, thought leaders, and worldwide directors come together for one full day of dynamic networking events, meetings with investors, access to invaluable resources, and inspiration led by top CEOs and influencers and more. Join us to connect with the largest startup community in the world.