An Interview with Jonathan Aufray, Growth Hacker

(#00001) — The Most Important Skill for Becoming a Growth Hacker Is the ‘Eagerness to Learn’

  1. The Beginnings of a New Chapter
  2. Marketing Vs. Growth Hacking
  3. Risks Are Necessary
  4. Importance of Good Team Work
  5. The Key to Motivation
  6. Growth Hacker Job Description
  7. Become a Growth Hacker
  8. Biggest Challenges
  9. Ten Years From Now
  10. Advice for Young Entrepreneurs

Growth hacking is a relatively new term which can be explained in many different ways. Yet, a unique, singled out definition of this concept does not exist.

The term was adopted in 2010 for the first time, after Sean Ellis, entrepreneur, angel investor, and startup advisor used it to describe a person whose true commitment is growth.

Over time people started applying it more and more, until it became a crucial thing for every business, including startups.

Fascinated by this technique, I have written about it on a few occasions. However, you will never gain a realistic idea of the term, unless you take a sneak peek into the world of a growth hacker.

I had the pleasure and opportunity to discuss this matter with Jonathan Aufray, growth hacker, and CEO of If you are an entrepreneur or an aspiring growth hacker, hear what Jonathan has to say on the topic.

Would you like to introduce yourself, Jonathan? Who are you, what do you do for a living, when and how were you introduced with growth hacking?

In the past 15 years, I lived and worked in 7 countries.

I am originally from France and I now live in Taiwan.

I also lived in the US, the UK, Ireland, Spain, and Australia.

I have always been attracted by small businesses as I like to be challenged and see the value of my contribution.

I am not saying that working for big brands like Apple or Google isn’t challenging but let’s be honest, if I work for one of those companies and I take 6 months off, they will be fine.

When you work for a startup or an SMB, if you take a 1-week leave, the company will suffer already.

I was introduced to growth hacking a few years ago. Because my background was in digital marketing for small businesses; once I started to work with startups, I kind of pivoted to growth hacking.

Indeed, startups need fast execution and iteration, even more than SMBs. I always found that marketing was limited because there wasn’t always a connection between product development and marketing.

That’s what I love about growth hacking: it’s a mix of psychology, product development, data, designing, engineering, and marketing. This is really the link between those departments. Growth hacking isn’t just here to grow acquisition channels but also to grow/improve the product in order to make it more user-centric.

I’ve worked with businesses and entrepreneurs from more than 70 countries. Now, I am the Co-Founder and CEO at Growth Hackers. At Growth Hackers, we help startups, SMBs, entrepreneurs, marketers, and organizations grow with digital marketing and growth hacking.

Not a big fond of describing myself, so I am going to say what people usually say about me: I am a people’s person, honest and easy-going.

In my free time, I like to travel, hang out with my friends, play sports and meeting new people.

People often confuse this profession with marketing. What is the main difference between the two, and do you have your own definition of growth hacking. If yes, can you share it with us?

A lot of people believe marketing and growth hacking are actually the same. They think ‘growth hacking’ is just a buzzword.

Most of the time, these people either never applied growth hacking and are just traditional marketers or on the opposite, they are growth hackers who don’t have marketing experience.

If you worked in marketing, you know that your goal is to market and sell your products or services. You don’t really have a say about the product itself. This is the role of the product manager.

What growth hacking does is connecting marketing with product development thanks to data. Growth hacking is a department by itself where the main focus is growth, growth and again growth.

Acquisition Growth — Activation — Retention — Revenue — Referrals. I recommend you to check my definition of growth hacking for more details.

You are a risk-taker. Which was the greatest risk you have ever taken in your life, and what was the outcome of it?

That’s a tough question as I believe I took many risks in my life.

Maybe one of my biggest was to move to England in 2005/2006 when I didn’t speak English. I believe this was the real start of my journey.

Do you believe in Team-Building and can you tell us something about your team?

Of course, I believe in team building.

I don’t think anyone would tell you otherwise. In my opinion, the secret of team building is talking, listening and adaptation.

To build a great team, people can’t be all the same, they need to be complementary with each other.

At work but also outside of work.

You also need to know your teammates well to know what they like, dislike, are allergic to, etc…

Because you don’t get personal with them and treat them all differently.

I see a lot of companies organizing retreats or trips or having a lot of ‘standard’ perks where everyone seems happy but they actually aren’t. Why? Because these companies believe in the 1 size fits all mentality. They don’t adapt to the people or to their teams.

There’s a study by Business Insider showing that tech companies with a lot of perks actually have a terrible retention rate. This obviously shows that people aren’t happy or challenged enough.

How do you motivate yourself, and your team, to keep your work-evolvement on a high-level and stay focused?

For me, the key to motivation is happiness and trust. If you’re happy with your job, your boss, your teammates, and your clients, you’ll want to do a good job and you’ll be motivated by it.

That’s why listening to your teammates is crucial to understand what they’re looking for with the job but that’s not it. You also want to know about their personal lives and help them if needed.

When it comes to growth hacking, do you believe that hard work pays off or is this profession based on other skills such as creativity or a certain necessary knowledge?

I don’t think I know any professions where hard work doesn’t pay off. I think growth hacking can be learned and taught but growth hacking isn’t for everyone, though. This is not a very relaxed job.

Creativity is one thing but the most important skill for growth hacking is to be ‘eager to learn’. Growth hacking keeps changing. One thing that worked a month ago might now work anymore.

You need to keep testing new things and be open to change. To know more about what a growth hacker job involves, I suggest you check my growth hacker job description.

If someone wants to become a growth hacker, where should he/she start? Are there any certain characteristics that a person needs to possess in order to engage in this field?

I have never been a big advocate of schools, universities, etc… I am sure Gallant Dill, who’s a college dropout and manage a great entrepreneur / motivational Facebook group would agree with me here.

In my opinion, the best way to learn is by doing (This is how I learned). Start building an easy website about one of your passions.

You can easily build a site without knowing to code (WordPress, Shopify, Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace, etc…). Then, start writing content, try to drive traffic to your site, build your email list, etc…

There are many videos, blog posts, tutorials around that will show you how to do those. For instance, you can check the Growth Hackers’ blog.

What challenges did you have to face in order to get where you are now, and did you have an idol in your life that inspired you and kept pushing you towards success?

One of the biggest challenges I had and I have to face is being careful to badly intentioned people. Because I am a people’s person, I always see the good in people and sometimes this makes me naïve.

One of the biggest challenges I had and I have to face is being careful to badly intentioned people. Because I am a people’s person, I always see the good in people and sometimes this makes me naïve.

In the business world, I have learned from experience that a part of people has bad intentions. They are just in business to trick and scam people. I even met people with psychopathic traits, which is surprisingly not uncommon.

I honestly don’t have an idol or someone who really pushed me. I get inspiration from fellow entrepreneurs of course but I don’t have an idol. For example, something I really get inspired by for Growth Hackers’ company culture is Buffer company culture.

I love how honest they are and the way they make remote work a success.

I am curious where do you see yourself five/ten years from now? Even more importantly, where do you think growth hacking will stand in the future?

I see myself somewhere on earth.

I am sorry, it’s a stupid answer but if 10 years ago people would have told me you would do growth hacking in Taiwan, I would not have believed them (Especially that the term growth hacking didn’t even exist yet).

In 10 years, I could still be living in Taiwan as I love the country and the people.

If you have the opportunity, please come to visit it (Or even live here). People are extremely welcoming, life is easy and peaceful.

But, I don’t limit myself to Taiwan, I could literally be anywhere in 10 years (Probably not Mars, Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos will be there first).

What about growth hacking? I think AI and machine learning will have a huge impact on the industry. I believe AI engineers and programmers will be in high demand.

My job in the future will be more about management I guess. This is something that can be hardly replaced by machines and AI as you need a personal touch in management.

Finally, is there any advice you would like to give to young entrepreneurs?

Focus, be resilient and don’t give up.

If you want to explore the depth of this profession, hopefully, the provided insight and tips were motivational enough to make you take the first step.

My biggest goal in life is to empower people, but it’s a mission I cannot do alone. Today, Jonathan helped me in my mission, and hopefully, you will be the next one to join in.

“The Mission to Empower 1 Million Entrepreneurs”

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Bruno (HE) Mirchevski

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The Logician (Dreamer) 👁️ Don’t follow me. I am lost too!😎 Founder of HE Group - (Investor) 📈

The Logician

The Official Publication of The Logician

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