Digital marketing

Growth hacking and talk with Georgiy Kostiakov

29 April, 2021

Growth hacking is a relatively new concept. Its definition is much younger than classical marketing based on the variety of traditional comprehensive approaches.

Coined in 2010 by Sean Ellis, growth hacking marketing strongly focuses on rapid development. It’s a perfect fit for startups with a minimal budget but needs to enter the market and find their customers as soon as possible. Standard marketing techniques don’t always work here and may be too pricey.

To clarify how growth hacking helps startups and small businesses attract their first customers, we talked with Georgiy Kostiakov. Georgiy is the growth product manager at TemplateMonster and a growth hacking expert.

We also prepared a detailed growth hacking guide that explains what growth marketing strategies are all about. Please read our guide and check out the interview with Georgiy Kostiakov as a pleasant bonus.

In this overview, you will learn:

  • What is growth hacking: Definition and how to do growth hacks work
  • Who is a growth hacker? Growth hacker vs. marketer
  • Growth-hacking process step by step
  • Growth hacking strategies tips and techniques
  • Best growth hacking examples

What is Growth Hacking: Definition and How Do Growth Hacks Work

Growth hacking is a combination of growth marketing techniques used to promote startups that are just paving their way. The primary purpose of growth hacking marketing strategies is to quickly generate new leads and allow the startup to start selling their products. These marketing strategies are highly agile and flexible. If a growth hacker sees the hacks don’t yield the expected results, they are instantly revised and upgraded.

Growth hacking marketing is suitable both for B2C and B2B businesses. Nevertheless, in B2B, this strategy is used much more often. The thing is that in the B2B segment, lead generation is slow and painful. The decision-making process is lengthy and affected by multiple stakeholders thinking about investing their money. Convincing them is more complicated than convincing a single customer in B2C. You need to find a personalized approach and put more effort into making B2B leads to convert.

That’s why growth hacking strategies are, first of all, a must-have for B2B startups. They enable product owners to engage the necessary partners and capitalize on their products quickly. B2C is a significant boost to marketing and winning the market.

Who is a Growth Hacker? Growth Hacker vs. Marketer

Let’s start with some apparent characteristics and the definition.

A growth hacker professionally does SaaS growth hacks for startups and small businesses. This person may have a marketing background and qualifications but mainly employs the strategies that result in fast growth. Hackers aim to convert quality leads at a low cost and with meager resources.

Why can marketers not do growth hacking with tried and tested marketing techniques?

Well, theoretically, they can. In reality, a marketing specialist without SaaS hacks training usually fails.

When Sean Ellis, the creator of the growth hacking definition and philosophy, was asked to foster business development, he repeatedly faced the same problem. After Sean started cooperating with a startup and implemented marketing hacks, everything went well. Under his guidance, the company quickly developed and grew its customer base. As soon as all the growth hacking processes were set, it was time for Sean to leave the company. He needed to delegate digital marketing hacks to the in-house marketing team.

That was the critical challenge.

It turned out that traditional marketers could not continue growing the company even with great experience and skills. They focused on tried and tested techniques instead of digital marketing and other growth hacks.

At this point, it became clear that a growth hacker must be a different definition. Although hackers closely cooperate with marketing specialists, they pursue other goals and leverage various hacks.

Here are the key differences between a growth hacker and a marketer

The work of marketing specialists and growth hackers differs in their mindset, data use, and other aspects. Check out the key things that matter.

  • A growth hacker works with all conversion funnel stages, whereas a marketing specialist concentrates on awareness and acquisition. Growth hacking is not only about engaging customers; it’s also about keeping them and encouraging customer references at each stage of the funnel.
  • A growth hacker is involved in the work on the product, and a marketing specialist isn’t. To do the right hacks, especially in B2B, a growth hacker must know what customers expect from the product. Hackers collect and analyze customer feedback to guide the development team on what features and capabilities are most demanded.
  • A growth hacker is more agile. Digital marketing has lots of proven and universal tactics that yield predictable results. This is not the case with digital growth hacking strategies. Since growth hacking is a relatively young concept with limited examples, each startup requires maximum flexibility. Therefore, successful growth hacking is always based on reliable and fresh data.
  • A growth hacker is focused solely on growth opportunities, whereas a marketing specialist deals with day-to-day marketing needs and branding. The search for growth opportunities is the main idea behind the work of growth hackers. On the other hand, digital marketing specialists take a more comprehensive approach and cover all different needs, like brand awareness, advertising, customer relationships, etc.
  • A growth hacker experiments a lot, whereas a digital marketing specialist builds long-term strategies. Growth hackers need an immediate result and cannot wait to see what happens in 6 months or a year. That’s why they do many A/B testing and customize hacks on the go. Marketers strive to achieve long-term results and have more time to see the impact of their decisions.

When you know why growth hacking specialists are unique, please find out more about what they do and build a growth hacking process.

Growth-Hacking Process Step By Step

The offered growth-hacking guidelines are a universal template for hackers in e-commerce B2B, SaaS, and other industries. You can customize and change these steps depending on your target audience, product specifications, and business needs.

Step #1. Start with the product and do market research

Your growth hacks will fall flat if the product sucks. Many gurus like Google, CocaCola, or Windows, released products that attracted little or no attention. After some time, the brands stopped offering them after losing a lot of investment and marketing effort.

Hence, it would help if you remembered that all growth hacking strategies are strongly product-oriented. Product analysis should happen long before sophisticated growth hacks.

First, make sure to ask the potential target audience what they think about your idea. You can create a questionnaire, add a survey to your website, contact your existing customers, or ask friends.

If they believe it’s something useful, the idea is validated, and you can start working on it. If not, it’s better to find another picture or considerably modify your plans.

Next, when you begin working on the product, keep staying in touch with consumers. Communicate with them about the features and collect feedback whenever possible. For example, if you implement growth hacks for a SaaS company, we recommend launching the test version of the software product. This way, you will see how potential customers use it and collect feedback. Based on comments, it will be easier to fine-tune the product and pick the best growth hacks.

Besides, you will secure the startup from developing a useless SaaS solution and losing money.

Step #2. Narrow down your target audience

Once you shape the product’s vision, it’s time to crystallize your target audience.

If you want to conquer the world instantly, chances are you will go bankrupt instead. Why so? It’s impossible to create a product that will make all age, gender, and social categories purchase.

That’s why before reaching out to all people, you must start with early adopters and innovators. These are the buyers willing to test new offers and technology. For effective growth hacking strategies, you will need to target them directly.

At this step of implementing your growth digital marketing hacks, you have to:

  • Create your customer profile. Think about the people or companies that are most likely to buy your product.
  • Personalize growth hacks. The list of potential buyers is usually limited. Hence, it should be easier to figure out what message and offer are best for what leads.

Keep in mind that to make your product profitable, you need to grasp the first 15% of the market. The initial growth hacks must be focused on this target group.

When you succeed with the launch, it will be easier to engage other groups. Your brand will already have early adopters meaning reliable referrals and reviews.

After the product wins the first customers, it’s time to refine your conversion funnel. Customer acquisition, activation, retention, and loyalty are the key stages to focus on.

Step #3. Keep acquiring customers with growth hacks

True growth hackers never stop looking for opportunities to get more customers. Hence, it would be best if you leveraged all customer acquisition channels that work for your business, be it Amazon, LinkedIn, Pinterest, your website, or any other resource.

We recommend choosing one of the following customer acquisition approaches:

  • Spread a word about your business through referrals or shares. These hacks are effective for software startups. You can offer a person who invites a friend a discount, bonus, or other perks. For example, Payoneer, a payment system, gives $25 to everyone who brings a friend.
  • Provide unparalleled experience for growth hacking. Find something your competitors cannot offer. This approach is suitable for companies that work on unique products that will pioneer the market. Many years ago, it was Facebook, a social networking site that made connecting with friends easy and comfortable.
  • Use paid resources for growth hacking. Hardware or e-commerce companies can benefit from paid marketing hacks if they correctly calculate the customer lifetime value. Once you know how much profit a customer generates, you can calculate your expenses and learn what you can afford to acquire.

Step #4. Encourage leads to take action and stay

Customer retention strategies are the best way to generate more profit from acquired leads. Analyze the customers that are already using your product to figure out what can make them upgrade the plan, pay for additional capabilities, or take another necessary action.

At the same time, it’s important to keep nurturing leads. Don’t forget to collect feedback from your customers to know their troubles. Communicate with them through social media, like LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. This helps growth hackers find new opportunities for repeat sales and guide them on enhancing the offered product.

Want to get some ideas on what to do at these stages? Discover the most effective digital growth hacks in the next section.

5 Growth Hacking Strategies Tips and Techniques

As you implement the growth hacking funnel, you will need to decide what growth hacking marketing strategies to use. They are applicable at the different funnel stages and benefit most SaaS startups.

Growth Hacking Strategies #1. Go viral with brand partnerships

Going viral is not only about publishing engaging content on social media. It’s also about starting partnerships that instantly increase your audience and make your product more valuable.

PayPal and eBay integration is one of the best examples despite their recent announcement about splitting up. PayPal became the primary payments provider of eBay back in 2003. This was a significant growth hack (even if it wasn’t called so back then). All eBay buyers have been encouraged to use PayPal for payments for many years. Among many other things, this helped PayPal to conquer the market quickly. With each subsequent integration, the growth hacking potential of PayPal only kept increasing.

Growth Hacking Strategies #2. Launch a Referral Program

Referral programs are at the core of most growth hacking strategies. Today, almost every startup offers some bonus to users that invite a friend.

If you also want to open new growth hacking opportunities, make sure to launch a referral program. It will generate more customers and allow you to create a community of brand ambassadors.

Growth Hacking Strategies #3. Leverage social media and SEO

Social media posting doesn’t require huge investment, meaning it’s a good option for startups with a limited budget. LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are practical resources to tell your target audience more about your product.

Be sure to use long-tail keywords and hashtags in your SEO and SMM strategies. This will allow you to target quality leads and avoid wasting time on everyone.

To benefit from social media and SEO strategies, growth hackers should closely cooperate with digital marketing specialists. Such a partnership allows growth hackers to acquire new leads through social media, while the digital marketing team manages content, SEO, posting, and other marketing tasks.

Growth Hacking Strategies #4. Simplify navigation and user flow

When growth hackers process feedback and analyze customer behavior, they usually find many areas for improvement. For example, product users may complain about a lengthy registration process that prevents them from converting. Or they don’t want to share their credit card information when they register.

The task of growth hackers is to detect such problems and find ways to solve them. Growth hackers can pass the complaint to software developers asking them to remove extra website forms, shorten the registration process, etc.

For example, growth hackers often ask the tech team to implement website chats to facilitate the customer experience. This enables leads to get quick automated support whenever they need it. Good customer support always boosts growth.

Growth Hacking Strategies #5. Nurture leads with bonuses

It would help if you made your leads offers they cannot refuse from time to time. Such hacks help to increase revenue and customer loyalty.

For example, you can give them a 14-day plan upgrade for testing advanced features. They will appreciate this as a pleasant bonus and may become ready to pay for premium features in the future. Lead nurturing is an essential part of growth hacking techniques.

Best Growth Hacking Examples

Growth hacking marketing techniques and strategies have helped many renowned brands to kickstart. Let’s take a look at several iconic growth hacking examples to bring you some inspiration.

Instagram

The secret behind Instagram’s rapid growth is an ideal combination of time, place, and circumstances. Growth hackers call such examples “product-market fit,” meaning that the product perfectly meets specific market needs.

When Instagram appeared, users were tired of reading Tweets and overcomplicated Facebook posts. They sought social media that would allow them to share lovely images without explaining what they mean quickly. Besides, at that time, smartphones with quality cameras already became widespread. It was easy to make a nice photo and instantly publish it online.

Growth hackers at Instagram used this opportunity to design the right product and attract millions of users. They also guided the development team on modifying the product’s functionality as the needs of the target audience changed. In particular, Instagram launched integrations with Facebook and Twitter.

Another growth hacking move that helped Instagram win early adopters is cooperating with journalists. Its founders shared the app with tech enthusiasts to get reviews and attract users from the start.

Uber

Uber is among the startup examples that have leveraged the customer lifetime value. Early on, they realized that most people who tried their ridesharing service would continue using it. This made a $20 bonus offered new customers a great growth hacking solution. After using the provided bonus, customers kept ordering taxis through the app. Thus, the lifetime customer value exceeded the cost of acquisition.

Uber’s growth hackers also carefully analyzed every market they entered. They evaluated the weather, nightlife, events, local taxi services, and other factors to ensure the app would succeed in each selected location.

Airbnb

Before Airbnb cross-posted its accommodations on Craigslist, no one thought it could be such a powerful growth hack. Airbnb’s team used Craigslist API reverse engineering to allow Airbnb hosts to publish their listings on Craigslist and vice versa. This way, they got access to a large user base and won their first customers. Craigslist enabled Airbnb to quickly enter the US market and expand to other parts of the world. It’s one of the perfect examples of how startups can benefit from integrations.

Apart from Craigslist’s resources, Airbnb’s growth marketing hackers focused on quality content. They tried to post better pictures of accommodations than their competitors. They even hired photographers who helped people to take pictures of their apartments in different locations as examples. Besides, Airbnb’s team reached out to early adopters by visiting tech conferences.

Conclusion

This overview of the growth hacking techniques with examples should help you develop your custom growth strategy. As you can see, genuinely effective growth hacks are always personalized and adapted to specific startups. It’s important to implement growth hacks at each stage of the conversion funnel, make data-driven decisions, research the market, and consciously improve the product based on the needs of end-users.

Traditional marketing specialists don’t always have the necessary expertise to implement growth hacking strategies. That’s why you should use the growth hacks listed here and hire professional growth hackers.

Interview about Growth hacking strategies with Georgiy Kostiakov at TemplateMonster

Sophia: Okay. Hi guys. Today we have Georgiy. Hi.

Georgiy: Hi. 

Sophia: It’s nice to have you today during our interview. So let me introduce you to our listeners. Georgiy Kostiakov is the growth product manager at TemplateMonster, and TemplateMonster is one of the oldest providers of website templates on the internet. Today, Georgiy will tell us a lot more about the company he works for. So Georgiy, how did you find yourself working for TemplateMonster?

Georgiy: Well, it was when I was studying at my university. It was the first project called web design library at webdesign.com.org, and it was devoted to web design articles, and tutorials, photoshop effects, and so on. It was a support project for TemplateMonster, a content project to acquire new visitors and reach a new audience. Since then, it was like 2002 or 2003, there were many of such projects of a support kind, right. I evolved as a specialist. I tried different positions, and the last one was like a growth manager. It was not only about TemplateMonster because a TemplateMonster is just one of a wide variety of projects in our holding. By the way, we’re now called jet monsters. It’s like the name of our holding, and TemplateMonster is just one of the projects here. Well, it’s the biggest one, of course, but there are Drake blogs, there’s motor press and templates.com, and so on. My idea was to inject a growth methodology in our company’s main projects. It’s something new in marketing, and I was a great evangelist of such a method. I acquired some courses and seminars, and conferences, and we have provided this growth method to four of our projects. I think it was a successful experience. Maybe we will talk a bit more about it later, but as for now, the latest thing I am doing is starting a very new project, even a business inside our holding, and this is the first place when it’s not related to web design at all. It’s a mobile development team called Jet Apps where we’re trying to make hyper-casual games, mobile games, so this is something I’m working on right now.

Sophia: Well, okay, that’s so interesting, because when I was researching on TemplateMonster, I just heard that it’s a complete cycle, you have the whole process inside your company, and that’s it. Now you tell me so much more about businesses inside the businesses. So well, but before we go into this business-related topic, I want to allow our listeners to learn more about you as a personality, not only you’re working at the TemplateMonster. What do you do in your free time or like your hobbies connected to you?

Georgiy: Well, it’s an exciting topic because games are one of my main hobbies and only now I’m able to merge my hobby at my work, and I’m very excited about it. I will tell you that I have several game consoles; I have a virtual reality helmet, I have not everything related to the game. It’s my passion somehow, and it fits perfectly in something I’m trying to do right now. Nevertheless, I have a family; I have two kids, two boys, ten and four. I live in Lviv for four years, before I lived in Mykolayiv, and we decided to move here. I like an active way of living.

Furthermore, I constantly ski, and when I was to make a living, I took part in such activity as the auto quest; maybe you have heard about it. It’s a rather extreme activity, and I can describe it in two words. There are several teams. I have several field members, which have to drive some places in the night by car, and they find some hidden objects, while the other part of the team is like a brain hub. They are trying to simultaneously solve puzzles and tell the field part where they should go and what they should search for. The first team, which can solve all the puzzles, wins. It’s a rather extreme way to have a rest. I like this stuff.

Sophia: That’s so cool that you like games. You said you managed to combine your hobby and work, but how did you manage to come to this? Many people have a hobby, and they would like to earn money with that hobby, but it’s impossible. So they work for something they do not usually like. So how did you manage to find your passion that you put into the work?

Georgiy: That’s an interesting question because several months ago, our CEO told me that we were a bit stuck in our domain field like web design, and he wanted to search for some new ideas for new businesses. He offered me some research, like where we can go and where we can use our expertise, resources, and knowledge to find new ways for businesses and new projects. It took me about a month of investigation to understand why I didn’t talk about it earlier because it’s obvious. I presented a pitch, and it constantly took the attention of our top management while we’ve done some new research, I mean additional research, and approved all the budgets and all the milestones, and now I’m here. 

Sophia: Okay. Well, so let me just into here. You said that you came to TemplateMonster in 2002.

Georgiy:  I thought in 2003.

Sophia: Okay. Therefore, that was just the beginning of this company. Can you explain more, like how you see what was the beginning idea and how it’s evolving, how it’s changing right now, how are you developing?

Georgiy: That’s an exciting story. I was not in the company before, but one of the founders of our company was doing something. He led a web design studio. They were doing some custom designs, and they were relatively successful. Still, they noticed that most of the projects they do constantly use the same elements, and they begin to combine such ingredients and store them like a template because before, there was no such a product as a website template and one of the team. I don’t know; it was something like a brainstorm or something like that, but they just decided to try packing such elements and selling them as website templates, and this is how it started. They constantly took the attention of the web design community. It was a very successful project from the very beginning, and the only thing was to find a way to extrapolate it and make it more extensive and more successful. And I joined the company the following year when it was way up. 

Sophia: So that was the beginning, and you told something about a new project, a new business inside this business. So can you tell me more about the project you’re working on right now?

Georgiy: Okay, let me clarify how it works. Back then, it was the only project, the only business inside our company, but when we developed our website when we grew up, we saw another trend growing up like website builders. And we decided to create a new project called motto CMS. It was flash CMS back then, but we all know what happened to flash. So it was a website builder. Its main goal was to take place in this niche and acquire those visitors, those clients seeking a website template, and the whole back of those services. And then it was an idea to make a studio-like for custom designs. The template tuning appeared, then there were several other ideas, and we grew to a bunch of projects that are somehow related more or less to TemplateMonster, templates, or at least web design. And here’s a stage when the company decided to overcome this domain field and broaden its portfolio to other spheres. It is how we got to mobile gaming.

Sophia: Wow, okay. You’re working in this company for years. That’s a lot. Usually, I saw just the professors working at the universities or schools for such a long time. Do you sometimes have like thought about maybe it’s the end for me in this company, or how do you find yourself still being motivated to work at a plate monster?

Georgiy: It’s a good question. You should constantly seek another work every three or five years to hold yourself in good shape, learn something new, and try something new. I’m lucky to work in such a company that can allow me to switch each three or five years even faster; I think I went through many different positions, as I told you before. I worked on other projects, so I don’t feel like I’m staying in the same spot. I’m constantly developing myself, my skills. I’m continually doing some different stuff, and the main thing, the most important thing is that I can express myself, and I can propose some new ideas and take responsibility for implementing them. This is why I never feel like that’s enough, I got tired, or I got bored. I don’t need to seek some new possibilities because everything I need, I do have here, at least as for now.

 Sophia: Wow, okay. That’s motivating, or at least maybe, of course, it’s some parts of the company, but it’s also part of you. That is constantly looking for some challenges, which is very inspiring. Suppose I heard something about template mostly before but only when I was getting ready for the interview. In that case, I was researching, and I was learning how fascinating everything inside. I heard that you do between and templates per day. That statistic says it is on the internet. Is that true that you can do the TemplateMonster and so many templates per day?

Georgiy: As for now, a TemplateMonster is being transformed into a marketplace. Most of the templates that appear on our marketplace are from other authors, from different vendors. Just a year ago, this was not the case, because we always believed that we should take full responsibility for the product provided, so we always have to do everything ourselves, which is the good side of such a process. However, this was a significant limitation for us, and we could not grow fast enough, so TemplateMonster decided to become an open market last year. Now we can accept all templates that meet our quality requirements and publish them on our marketplace. This is why we have so many products added every day.

Sophia: Okay, that’s what I heard before. If I wanted to add my template and work with it on this TemplateMonster platform, I couldn’t do it. Nevertheless, right now, I can count. You are changing a lot, honestly. If you have faced the five biggest challenges for your platform in TemplateMonster over the past year during the pandemic, what were these changes? Each business was suffering in some way. What about in TemplateMonster during the pandemic?

Georgiy: It’s interesting enough that we didn’t feel that somehow it could ruin or harm our business due to pandemic. Most of the offline companies thought they needed an online presence. Therefore, so far the number of orders has even increased. Nevertheless, we had our inner problem. We had to learn fast working remotely, working effectively, and keeping communication. We had more than 300 people working in the TemplateMonster, and we had offices and three or even four cities. It’s Kyiv, Lviv, Mykolaiv, Kherson. And we had to learn fast how to keep control over all the processes and at the same time not to overdo this control and keep it perfectly, comfortable for our employers to perform, stay motivated, and not feel that someone’s controlling them too much. This is a question of a delicate balance between control and freedom. I think we are still looking for this perfect balance. Nevertheless, I’m pretty happy with the level we acquired right now in this term. 

Sophia: I believe it is also all about trust. When you trust your employees, you will be able not to check them constantly, but it’s pretty hard, especially if you’re so big, like 300 people, that’s a lot. 

Georgiy: Trust is not in the first place, so it is more about communication motivation. It’s about the speed of feedback on your work. It’s about some processes in the first place. Therefore, there are different tools to help with it. It was somewhat challenging for everyone with all the different needs and frameworks to find one framework to work with because we’re one company, and we have to keep one system for all of our employers. 

Sophia: And how is it about now? Do you feel like going back to the office, or you’re working still remotely?

Georgiy: We still work remotely, but our employers have an option, if they can’t work remotely, it’s hard for them to do it from home; they can go to the office. But we recommend them to stay at home until the pandemic is over. 

Sophia: Yeah, nobody knows when, but hopefully. I’ll get back to the TemplateMonster theme. I heard that you consider yourself to be beginner-friendly, right? So if I don’t have skills in editing, in creating the team place, I will be feeling comfortable in the TemplateMonster, and then I decided to research on your competitors, and I found that might be or maybe. No, you will tell me, Theme Forest.

They seem to be a little more sophisticated. They’re not that beginner-friendly. Do you see them as your competitors, or do you not want to become sophisticated? You just want your templates to be simple and use them. What do you think?

Georgiy: I would say that TemplateMonster and Theme Forest are competitors in lots of ways, but we are different at the same time because our templates and all the products have much more in common. We all try to make them on the same usability level, and we have a robust support system, which is something that Theme Forest plans. If you want to have an enormous choice, you may search for templates on Theme Forest. Nevertheless, if you want to be sure that you have the best quality product and the simplest way to use them, edit them and install them, and want to be sure that you will have 100% support at any time, then stick with TemplateMonster.

 Sophia: That’s an excellent recommendation, honestly. Okay, it’s understood with that. Therefore, if I need templates, I know where to go. If you said something about you started with the crows, this is your core; that template is easy to use, to install. Do you see any future for development, or what would be the next level of growth, what you played monster because you already have support, you are already easy to use and install, what else?

Georgiy: I think that there is a slight misunderstanding of what gross means of the process. Growth was all about doing an incredible amount of experiments quickly and extrapolating those experiments that show the best results. So we have created separate small growth teams inside each main project, and this growth team has to do at least five experiments per week. 

Sophia: That is a lot for every day. You have an experiment. 

Georgiy: This is what we struggle to do constantly, and this is growth when you try to make a brainstorm, to create a significant amount of ideas, and then to sort them, and to decide which of those ideas are good enough to test them in the possible fastest way. If you can do it in the short term, you just split this idea into several little ones and ensure that your testing will give you the best results. I mean them the most representative works. You can decide on your product, processes, or services based on this data. Therefore, this is all about data-driven decision-making. Before, we have selected based on our expertise on some research on our inner feeling, which is not the best way in the long-term perspective. You will fail if you don’t check all your ideas and if you don’t base your decisions on big data and some proof of concept. After some not very successful experiments and providing extensive features that cost a lot of money and resources and didn’t work, we decided to give this method of constant experimentation. Before we make any critical decision on any sphere inside our project, we try to test it as much as possible. It is what the growth process about.

Sophia: Okay, so testing, testing, and testing. That’s interesting. That’s good that you have seven days per week so that five days you do experiments, and on Sunday and Saturday, you can relax a little. 

Georgiy: No, you can start five experiments in one week or one day, or maybe you can do no experiments in one week and then launch 10 in the next one. The main thing is that you should constantly plan and start new experiments, and there should be no less than 20 per month. 

Sophia: Okay, you say that not less than. Do you think that it might work for every business or that just cause of your company, your experience?

Georgiy: I didn’t find any exceptions. I’m sure this is the case for any business, and this is the methodology that I want to apply to our game development project. I’m trying to do it how I wish we could test at least ten game ideas each month. Before developing a prototype or even the whole game with all the levels, and all the stuff, we should be sure that people like this core gameplay, or maybe visual effects, or something like that, they stick with this game. Also, the snack ability of this game is high enough for us to decide and invest our money and time in developing it. I think growth can be applied to practically any business you can think of.

Sophia: Okay, cool. So if we started speaking about growth, I believe you are the one who can tell us a lot more about growth hacking. What is that? How could you describe that?

Georgiy: This is everything I talked about before. Gross hacking is constant experimentation and extrapolation of your successful experiments. 

Sophia: Okay. Now we start talking about growth hacking because this term is so popular. But what was before? Do you think that gross hacking never existed before?

Georgiy: It did not exist. I will tell you one story. It was in Great Britain. There was a very unsuccessful cycling team. They had never won an international championship, hired a new coach, and decided that the best way for them to succeed was to find minimal improvements and every aspect of the training process. He decided that if he could improve every area of their learning with one person, it would be successful, and it felt like very, very small things. For example, he discovered how to wash hands safer and weaker, and while his sportsmen got ill less frequently. Then he found that a pillow of such an exciting form. I don’t remember what that was, but the idea is you may have a rest a little better than when you’re sleeping on the ordinary pillow.

Moreover, hundreds of the same minor improvements made his team super successful, and they won several competitions in a row. It was like a start for such a concept as growth hacking. That is why it was not even six years ago. It is a very fresh and new topic, it is constantly evolving, and new rules are continually being developed and established. So it’s very interested in terms of its flexibility.

Sophia: That’s what you talked about: a very fresh stream, I mean flexibility. I wanted to ask you if you believe that growth hacking is just for some specific industry? I’ve never heard that this Comte concept came from the sport. How this flexibly moved from sport to almost every sphere. So I believe it could be for anything. Do you think there are some exceptions that growth hacking like testing would not be helpful for

Georgiy: Nothing comes to my mind because it’s the most flexible industry, and it was the first to get this methodology. However, it doesn’t mean that it is the only thing that can succeed while doing this growth hacking. I’m almost sure that it can be applied to practically anything.

Sophia: When you do testing, when you do this growth hacking, how much money do you need for that? Is this something that requires a budget or not always? 

Georgiy: In our case, we have a shared team when a marketer. He spends like half a day per week for all those growth processes, a developer who also has several hours per week, and two or three other people from different departments who can generate ideas or discuss them, criticizing them. I think it takes not much money while considering the impact that growth hacking can do on a business and how many risks you can avoid by doing this stuff. I know that a big company has a different theme, growth teams for even each part of the funnel. I mean commercial horn like a separate team for user acquisition, an independent team for activation and retention. For example, like Amazon, Jeff Bezos says the success of Amazon is just a function of a number of our experiments, and they do about experiments per week, and this is well how big companies do growth hacking. 

Sophia: Oh, yeah, but those are big companies. What if a startup wants to convince the stakeholders that their idea is excellent, but before that, they need to run a bunch of experiments and need money. What do they do? How do they do growth hacking?

Georgiy: I’m not sure that startup is the best place to apply growth hacking because you should have enough traffic to test on, and if nobody knows you, it’s a bit difficult to do such experiments. There are other lean methods to grow a startup and develop it, but growth is more about significant projects with some audience and stuff to test on. 

Sophia: How did you incur incorporated this concept into your project? When was it started back in 2015, or was there some gap? 

Georgiy: It was half a year ago or several months ago. It’s a recent project. We just decided to try to do meetings weekly, and we started a trailer board where we just put all our experiments and managed them. And once we saw an impact, we decided to extrapolate it to the other projects’ step by step. Then we used some help from our outer mentors. There are four projects, which maintain this growth process independently and on a constant weekly basis. 

Sophia: You know what I hear from growth hacking. It’s something like when you have a goal, you usually work for that goal, and you are so concentrated that you stop seeing what is going on around you. If you decided to use this concept a couple of months ago so for other companies, it might be a new concept as well. Before they try to implement this concept into their business, they think they need to waste time on experiments while they already have a goal to work for. It is pretty hard to understand why I want to spend money, spend my time, and learn something new from the experiment because I’m sure that everything is already working. That might be pretty challenging for companies to let themselves try something new.

Georgiy: I have a good answer to this question. There are two main concepts of how to make a decision. The first one is to rely on your expertise. If you have a vision, like Steve Jobs, who knows perfectly what a market needs, you can depend on that, but not everyone has such Steve Jobs. This is why we have a problem when we don’t know for sure whether our decisions are correct or not. When we tried, when we started testing, we found out that only one of our ideas passes this test. If we wouldn’t, we would invest a bulk of a significant amount of money implementing this stuff, and we wouldn’t get any impact out of it. When you just know that only twenty percent of your ideas are good enough to invest your time on, no matter where you get them from, you would understand that testing is a vital process today. 

Sophia: Yeah, that’s true. It’s honestly interesting to learn growth hacking. You are the first person for me to know something about growth hacking. There is growth hacking; it’s okay. Then you make the understanding of how it works so clear. If honestly, before, I didn’t think that growth hacking is completely connected to testing. Thank you for opening this idea, for making it broader. If you have just started using this concept, you could see some developments. Might that be not only testing but something else in the future, or it’s all about testing? 

Georgiy: It’s all about different types of testing. It’s all about a new way to make your decisions. It’s all about being sure that each next step would be profitable for you, and it will not kill you because if you have enough fat, you can make several mistakes. But some mistakes can kill your business, and you should be able to be sure in advance that they will not. I think that growth hacking or growth marketing will develop to improve uh the methodology and frameworks to make it faster for you to know with a good enough percentage right that your decisions are okay. It will become the standard in five years that those companies that do not use growth approaches today will either die or use it shortly. No one can avoid it because you will not compete effectively enough from a long-term perspective if you will be making mistakes too often.

Sophia: My mind already asks what will be next after growth hacking, but that’s something we’ve seen in, as you say, five years or less or more. 

Georgiy: Yeah, none knows. This is something like in hyperactive casual game development, as none knows what will be in a year, but everyone knows for sure that hyper-casual will not be in the place where it is now. 

Sophia: Because it’s still changing. But we can predict where it will be changing. Yeah, cool. That’s a fascinating conversation. I learned a lot, and I believe there is a lot more than you can share with the lesson areas. Do you think that you would like to add to the general topic?

Georgiy: I would like to add that we’re constantly looking for new talents, and we would be happy to acquire some great programmers and designers. Be sure to look for our website, for our options, to work with us. I’m grateful for allowing me to talk about our growth, our company, our new businesses. It was a great time. Thank you.

Sophia: Thank you so much. 

Georgiy: I’m sure this is not the last time we’re talking about it. 

Sophia: Of course, it’s not the last time. When you get this fresh blood with the new programmers and other people, you will be developing even more. Therefore, we will be inviting you and possibly other team members for additional interviews. In particular, five years from now, I will be asking if you remember that you said something that growth hacking will be. We will be able to check whether these predictions have come true. 

Georgiy: That would be great. Okay, thank you.

Sophia: Thank you so much. Have a good day, and let’s stay in touch.

Georgiy: Right, bye-bye.

Sophia: Bye.