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Buffer's Top 10 Learnings Growing to $10 Million ARR

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Buffer's Co-founder, Leo Widrich, shares his top 10 learnings from five and a half years of growth at Buffer on the road to $10 annual recurring revenue (ARR).

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Buffer's Top 10 Learnings Growing to $10 Million ARR

  1. 1. @leowid Top 10 Learnings Growing to $10 Million ARR by @leowid Co-founder and COO at Buffer
  2. 2. @leowid 1. Experiment with a weekly mastermind with your co-founder in this format
  3. 3. @leowid How masterminds work • We take around 1-2 hours, preferably when it feels a bit less busy. • We talk for 10 minutes each about our achievements; like “I shipped this feature” or “I hit the gym 3 times this week” • Then we spend 40 minutes each on challenges. We try to really dive in here and not stay on the surface. • We then add a section at the end where we share feedback for each other.
  4. 4. @leowid 2. Avoid being distracted by data too early on
  5. 5. @leowid Most early stage startups won't have enough customers to rely on quantitative data. You need to be acquiring hundreds of customers every month (preferably thousands) to have enough data to support A/B tests, etc. Hiten Shah Co-founder of CrazyEgg, KISSmetrics and QuickSprout
  6. 6. @leowid 3. Try asking these 5 questions to learn better from customers
  7. 7. @leowid “You need to learn how customers behave and what they need. In other words, focus on their problem, not their suggested solution.” Cindy Alvarez
  8. 8. @leowid Questions to ask Tell me about how you do _________ today….  Do you use any [tools/products/apps/tricks] to help you get ________ done?  If you could wave a magic wand and be able to do anything that you can’t do today, what would it be? Don’t worry about whether it’s possible, just anything.  Last time you did ___________, what were you doing right before you got started? Once you finished, what did you do afterward?  Is there anything else about _________ that I should have asked? Link to full template bit.ly/buffercustdev
  9. 9. @leowid 4. Keep your data in house to be more flexible
  10. 10. Buffer’s journey with data 2010-11: In-house data-tools built by Joel 2012: Experimentation with various 3rd party event-tracking tools (KISSmetrics, Mixpanel) 2013-14: Moving back to build all data-tools in-house 2015-2016: Transitioning to using Looker
  11. 11. @leowid 5. Pick one channel to double down on instead of many (Bullseye exercise)
  12. 12. @leowid How to find your 1 channel that works • Outer ring: What’s possible - brainstorm all 19 traction channels there are • Middle ring: What’s probable - Promote 3-4 most promising ideas and run tests • Inner ring: What’s working - Focus solely on the 1 channel that’s working —> Marketing flywheel http://tractionbook.com/ by Gabriel Weinberg, founder of DuckDuckGo
  13. 13. @leowid 6. Seek conflicting advice from at least 2 mentors on your biggest decisions
  14. 14. @leowid 7. Experiment with changing your prices often as you add value
  15. 15. @leowid Doubling Buffer’s pricing Free $0/mo Standard $5/mo Max $20/mo Awesome Plan $10/mo Business $50-250/mo Enterprise Starts at $300/mo
  16. 16. @leowid 8. Use the lean startup methodology for every feature you build, especially post launch
  17. 17. @leowid
  18. 18. @leowid • Hypothesis for your feature • A customer development phase • An (InVision), clickable proto-type to get feedback • A roll-out of a working version that embarrasses you slightly Create a process around it that includes
  19. 19. @leowid 9. When you get an offer to sell, list the experiences of personal growth you might miss
  20. 20. @leowid • How to serve tens of thousands of customers • How to let someone go • How to hire key positions and train leaders • How to acquire another company • How to raise bigger funding rounds • How to recover from a hack What we’d miss out on learning
  21. 21. @leowid “Stop thinking about making a million dollars and start thinking about serving a million people” Dharmesh Shah Founder & CTO at HubSpot
  22. 22. @leowid 10. Start getting better at your strengths and stop working on your weaknesses
  23. 23. @leowid Identifying and embracing your strengths allows more forward momentum and can free you to move much more strongly as a team.
  24. 24. Example: Editor/Operator • We identified Joel as an Editor: thrives when going deep into one project at a time. • On the other hand, Leo finds joy in shipping and moving many projects forward at once, as an operator.
  25. 25. @leowid
  26. 26. @leowid buffer.com/transparency leo@buffer.com @LeoWid
  27. 27. Thanks!

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