The Martechno Beat: Product-led growth lessons from the Product Growth Owner at India’s fintech leader, Razorpay, and Co-founder of GrowthX
Written by
Lakshmi Gandham

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The Martechno Beat: Product-led growth lessons from the Product Growth Owner at India’s fintech leader, Razorpay, and Co-founder of GrowthX

Published : August 23, 2021 | Updated : May 20, 2024

In the new world order, the only constant is the changing consumption habits of users and the way people are using products. The level of interaction users have with products today, makes it immensely important for brands to communicate the unique value of their products, early in the user journey.

Set in this backdrop, we’ve got some action-packed insights into the nuances of growth teams, approaches to building products for today’s users, decoding cognitive biases to crack user engagement, and adopting a product-led growth approach to help users find value within a product quickly. 

Stay tuned in for an exciting conversation between Mayuri Govil, a senior product sales specialist at Netcore Cloud and Udayan Walvekar who is currently building a full growth stack team to drive product-led growth across all business lines of RazorPay. Udayan is also the co-founder of GrowthX – a cohort-based learning community with the vision to empower individuals with the right approach towards product-led growth. 

Mayuri: With your expertise and experience can you share your take on what are growth teams and what do they constitute? 

Udayan: There are ample definitions available on what exactly are growth teams. But here’s a more realistic picture of it. A growth team is essentially a small start-up within a start-up. The best thing about early-stage start-ups is that individuals are well communicated and people work as an integrated unit with no barriers of structure like marketing, design, and other functions. 

For a company like Dunzo, an operations person would also be on the growth team. The underlying point is that all of these people are focused on delivering the core value proposition to their customers as fast as possible and as often as possible. This can be at any stage of the customer journey. 

Mayuri: Why do you think growth teams are becoming a more integral part of companies today? 

Udayan: The foremost reason is the tectonic shift in the consumer behavior landscape right from the consumers choosing products to the apps they want to keep using repeatedly. 

Gone are the days when a billboard or a simple marketing campaign could get consumers to use a product. 

In the current era, it’s more about how a product is delivering value to its users, when it is delivering that value and how it is communicating with users. The responsibility of delivering, tracking, and optimizing this experience is owned by the growth team. 

Amongst the rapidly evolving user behavior, the one thing that remains constant is the increase in the number of growth teams across organizations. What we see of the growth team today, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Mayuri: What are some of the challenges you’ve seen in hiring talent to build these growth teams from scratch? 

Udayan: In general, hiring in start-ups is tough. And it only gets tougher when it comes to hiring growth teams.

The concept of growth teams is fairly new and it’s been only 3-4 years since it has started to pick up. The challenge of building growth teams is not just limited to hiring talent. The real challenge lies in the perception of growth teams.

Usually, people would expect some lone hacker to come along – something that has been fantasized about in the online world. The other fundamental problem is in finding the right talent. It’s like a needle in the haystack problem. Talent exists only in pockets currently. 

Lastly, there is another problem which is internal to companies. Organizations find difficulty in identifying the type of growth leader they need

Mayuri: There’s no denying that growth teams are going to help scale engagement, retention and ensure that the onboarding journey is in place. This brings us to yet another interesting discussion point- a one-size-fits-all approach. What are your views on adopting this approach for building products today? With multiple ICPs and user personas, how do you decide who to build for and where do you start? 

Udayan: There’s a saying – “If you are building for everyone, you aren’t building for anyone”. 

The fact that companies have taken a one-size-fits-all approach is the very reason why we see the emergence of new start-ups that are building for a niche.

So, how do you account for user personas? And, how do you think about building new products and feature lines? 

Let’s approach this by taking a product we all are accustomed to – Swiggy. There are so many user types. Swiggy’s basic job is to get food delivered from one place to another. But within the app, different users have different preferences. While one would want to order a salad, another would be looking for quick bites and a third person may be looking for premium food.

In the beginning, you must focus on building only for a niche audience and ensure that the product is delivered well and is giving them the desired value. 

Now, as you keep scaling up, like Swiggy, you can’t offer the same homepage to someone who orders a salad and someone who is looking for a quick snack. And the importance of this keeps rising as you scale up further. 

Mayuri: After designing features for 80% of your users, the next step is to get them to use the product. But a user’s decision to use a product/continue using it is influenced by certain cognitive biases. Could you please elaborate on what are cognitive biases? 

Udayan: Ask yourself a simple question – how do you make decisions in life in general? Most of us would say either emotions or logic. Now, coming to the truth – 90% of humans make decisions based on their emotions. Even though people may argue and say it’s logic that guides them to make decisions, but, majority of the time we’re just backing our decisions by saying that it was logical although it was emotional. This is a common phenomenon. 

Here’s what cognitive biases are – 168 flaws in the human mind that alter the way we make decisions. And each of us is flawed in one way or the other. The more people can understand these biases, the better they get at decision making even when it comes to building products, creating marketing campaigns, or designing product flows. 

Mayuri: One such intriguing bias is momentum behavior. We can also tie this back to building features for 80% of the users. A user comes to a product and is inundated with options. Momentum behavior suggests that users continue doing the same things every time they use a product. For instance, a regular Swiggy Pop user would probably not even check the other options available. So, how do you solve this momentum behavior and ensure that users are engaging with more features? 

Udayan: There is a reason why users are accustomed to a particular flow within a product. It’s simple. They derive value out of a particular flow. 

Let’s look at Trello for this. Trello’s onboarding is phenomenal. Usually, project management required maintaining tons of excel sheets. But Trello came up with an entirely new way to manage this. And the flow required users to simply drag and drop tasks into the different statuses of the project. This is very different from the excel sheet way. 

During the onboarding they make you experience a flow where you just need to drag and drop tasks into their respective statuses. Trello established this value/benefit very quickly through the product’s natural flow in the onboarding journey itself. They understand that a mental model migration is needed for users coming from excel sheets. 

It doesn’t even have to be the entire flow, just a small part of it that shows users the better ways of doing things will suffice. This also ties back to getting users to realize their ‘aha’ moment quickly. 

Mayuri: Driving the conversation in a different direction, let’s talk about the concept of product-led growth. It’s a popular and unpopular topic that everyone enjoys discussing. What is your take on product-led growth? In your opinion, does this approach lead to better user engagement and retention over a period of time? 

Udayan: Let’s trace back to how product-led growth came into the picture. No company woke up saying that they will drive growth through their product. This concept actually comes from the changing customer behavior. Back in the early 2000s, users would normally dial up a salesperson hoping to get some answers or information on a product. But that’s seldom the case these days. 

And it’s here to stay. 

Now, let’s talk more about what product-led growth is not! Adopting a product-led growth approach doesn’t mean that the product team takes charge of all the decision making and then it trickles down to marketing. That’s not what product-led growth professes. 

Also, it’s not true that product-led growth is meant only for start-ups and not large established companies. Look at Zoom – a $100 bn dollar company and how it has achieved growth by implementing a product-led strategy. 

The level of trust companies can build with users by adopting a product-led growth approach is far superior to any other way.

Mayuri: Adopting a product-led strategy also means designing a product flow that helps users derive quick value – get users to the aha moment. Thus, it’s important to not only build a great product/feature but also drive users to realize the value they get. How do you think nudges play a role here? Do they help users experience this aha moment faster? 

Udayan: Nudges were made with the right intent. But just like many things, they were made with the right intent but not always used in the right way. Every time we launch an app, a product tour starts, and the instinct of most users is to close it right away. Having said that, nudges are a powerful tool.

In a very ideal scenario, a product should not need nudges at all. But again, in such best-case scenarios, a product shouldn’t even require any FAQ section or any educational content either. But that’s not the case. 

Let’s look at the best way to use nudges. Before that, I’m assuming that you’ve built a feature that a user actually needs. 

The offline world does this very well. When you enter an airport, you won’t find a direction board telling you that gate number 11 is 7 lefts, 8 u-turns and 6 right turns away. Directions are given as and when you proceed. Now, tying this back to the app space – users should be guided through the product flow itself that helps them move further. Using nudges progressively is the right way to drive product adoption. 

On this note, we come to the end of a power-packed session that has left us with some stellar insights into building successful products and driving product-led growth across companies.

Listen to the full podcast here:

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Written By: Lakshmi Gandham