Ever since I started writing about growth and customer acquisition people have asked me, "When are you going to teach a program?"  I always found that question interesting.  Both of my parents were teachers for 40+ years so I guess you could say it is in my blood.  

I've hesitated in the past because I didn't want to develop something unless it was going to be incredibly high quality, thorough, and deeply useful.  Well, no more hesitation as the time is finally here.

Andrew Chen and I will be co-hosting an 8 week program with a series of lectures, interviews, live Q&A, and in person events.  Andrew is at the top of my list of people I respect when it comes to growth.  He shares my values of high quality, in-depth content and I can't think of a better person to do this with.  Details about the program are below.  You must apply to get on the waitlist.



A Little History

Andrew did the first inaugural run of this program in Winter 2014 under the title of SVBR (Silicon Valley Business Review).  The attendees consisted of a small group of growth practitioners from places like Dropbox, Yelp, Google, Nike, Expedia, Yammer, YCombinator startups, and more.  I'm excited to be joining him.  We've been revamping the content and incorporating feedback from the first program to make this one even better Here is what some attendees from the first program had to say:

Stephen Wang - Head of Growth at Tencent/Wechat

"SVBR provides something needed much in the industry — a thoughtful methodology for product planning that values sustainable growth strategy and a great product over short-lived “growth hacker” tricks. Andrew’s writings on product development have been shared and much discussed amongst our team and are recommended reading material for all product folks."

Eric Petitt - Director of Marketing at Mozilla

"Seriously – it is fair to say the work that fell out of this program delivered incremental MAU’s easily in the millions of users for Firefox. It changed our team. They got excited, they better understood their mission, and they finally had a framework they could use to explain their work to the rest of the organization. Highly recommend."

Catherine Liang - PMM Growth at Google

"Two thumbs up for the Silicon Valley Business Review. The lecture series exceeded all expectations with a well-structured series on growth principles, and brought them to life with a rare level of insightful interviews with top industry practitioners. Highly recommend for anyone who thinks about growth!"

What You Will Get Out Of This Program

The last five years has brought a massive wave of change.  Growing a technology/software company is not what it use to be. The accessibility of data has increased, customer acquisition has become more technical, the lines between product and marketing have blurred.  Traditional team structures, processes, and strategies no longer apply.  This program was designed to provide you with the following:

1.  A Comprehensive Growth Foundation

We will cover the core areas of growth including building a growth model, defining and understanding key growth metrics, developing growth roadmaps, growth team structure and management, and each of the primary channels to scale.  By the end of the program you will walk with a comprehensive foundation that you can apply to almost any B2C or B2B software company.

2. Strategic and Actionable Frameworks

If you want a laundry list of tactics (that probably won't work) like "make your buttons orange" this program isn't for you.  Andrew and I want to enable you with a set of actionable frameworks that you can apply to your own business and product.  We want to teach you how to think about the core elements of growth so that you can develop a winning strategy specific to your business.

3.  Be Part Of A Vibrant Community of High Quality Growth Practitioners 

There is nothing more valuable then having a strong network of other growth practitioners that you can learn from.  We will curate a high quality group of practitioners and bring them together  over a series of in person events to help you build this network.  

Dates and Timing

  • Accepting applicants until August 15th.  You will be notified shortly after. 
  • Program runs September 26th to November 21st
  • 1 to 3 Hours Per Week (see format below)
  • 6 In Person Events (optional)

Program Format

Weekly Lecture

Each week there will be a one hour video lecture on a specific topic (see more details on topics below).  Each lecture is taught by Andrew Chen or myself.  The material is designed to provide you with the foundation and frameworks to apply to your own business.  The lectures will feature brand new material.  There is nothing repurposed from blog.  The lectures will be hosted on the SVBR site and available for you to watch at any time.  

Weekly Q&A

Each week Andrew and I will host online webinars to answer your specific questions about the lecture material and for you to interact with the other high quality program attendees.  

Weekly Special Guest Interview

Each week there will be a one hour interview with other top growth professionals.  Some guests will include Ed Baker VP Growth @ Uber, Aatif Awan Director Product Growth @ LinkedIn, Akash Garg Dir of Growth @ Twitter, Vlad Loktev Growth Product Lead @ AirBnB, and many more.

In Person Events

One of the most valuable things in my career has been a strong network of other growth professionals to learn from and lean on.  We want to facilitate the same thing for you.  We will kick off the series with an opening dinner on September 26th, 2015 so you can meet your fellow attendees.  We will end the program with a closing dinner on November 21st, 2015.  You'll have additional chances to build relationships with smaller casual events in between.  We are vetting every attendee to ensure you meet the highest quality practitioners.  These events are optional.  They will be hosted in San Francisco.  For those not in San Francisco we will make an effort to connect you with other Growth Series members digitally. 

Who This Program Is For

The goal of this program is to provide you the foundational knowledge needed to grow your product or business.  We will 

This Program Is For You If You Are...

  • An executive at a large or growing technology company
  • An entrepreneur of an early stage funded startup
  • An experienced product manager, growth manager, or marketing manager

This Program Is NOT For You If You Are...

  • In an entry level role
  • Never worked for a software/technology company
  • Work in an internal operations role (IT, Finance, HR, Recruiting, etc)

NOTE:  You will find this program most useful if you are working on a B2C, B2C2B, or B2B mobile/web/desktop app, website, or SaaS product.  You will find this program less useful if you are in biotech, hardware, or traditional offline businesses like local retailers. 

What This Program Will Cover

The following is a draft of the syllabus for the program.  The final syllabus will be sent to you prior to the program starting. 

Week 1 - Growth Models

Every product’s growth strategy should fundamentally be built on a growth model, that describes the process end-to-end using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Furthermore, thinking about your growth model in the structure of the loop allows some key metrics to be calculated, quantifying how each cycle amplifies the organic traffic coming from traditional marketing efforts.

Week 2 - Lifecycle of Channels

Every growth model is built on an existing, larger platform, whether through build, buy, or partner. Channels grow and decay over time, however, and we’ll look at some case studies for how platforms such as display ads, Facebook apps, and push notifications have fared over the years. Plus, how to think about new platforms and where they fit in your portfolio of growth projects.

Week 3 - Growth vs Product Roadmaps

There’s always a million things to do – how do you prioritize what product changes will contribute to growth versus UX? Learn a framework to think about and prioritize features, built on a growth model and expected value calculations. Plus, why a growth roadmap often has to be separated from a product roadmap, and why the traits that make you successful at one often don’t translate to the other.

Week 4 - Retention and Engagement

Growth isn’t just acquisition – you have to retain and engage people, otherwise your curves will crash. We’ll discuss the math on how saturation and churn ultimately undermines acquisition. Plus, how to think about the usage lifecycle of your product, which coupled with habit theory, can create opportunities for high-value notifications.

Week 5 - Network Effects and Virality

The biggest consumer and SaaS companies of the last decade have been built without spending a dime on acquisition- instead it’s driven based on viral marketing. However, a systematic approach to virality is rare in the industry. See how viral loops are built on top of new platforms, and how key metrics like viral factor are calculated.

Week 6 - Paid Marketing

Organic growth will likely not sustain your product forever. As a result, it’s important to think about how you can complement this growth with paid marketing efforts that add fuel to the fire.

Week 7 - Content Marketing

Content marketing has exploded as a channel in the past 5 years.  It can be a powerful channel, but it is hard to get right.  This lecture will talk about how you can build a content marketing machine, the biggest mistakes most companies make with content strategies, the four ways to compete in today's crowded content environment, and what the future holds for content as a scalable acquisition channel.

Week 8 - Growth Teams

Organizing and building a team to focus solely on growth is a new challenge. It takes a concerted effort to interview, hire and train a team that will understand and expertly operate against a growth objective. This lecture will explore emerging best practices for leading and building these teams.

Questions and Answers

How many slots are available?

We do not have a specific number of slots.  We are more interested in ensuring the best possible experience which includes curating an amazing group of people.

What is the vetting process?

We will manually review and curate the program attendees from the applicants, based on experience, product type, and stage of company. To ensure the highest level of participation, the slots will be given to notable companies and startups, and people with strong professional and academic backgrounds.   

Who is attending?

Last time over 3000+ people applied, including director/VP/C-level executives from large tech companies like Twitter, Google, Apple, Linkedin, as well as late stage “unicorn” startups, plus cutting edge new companies out of YCombinator. We expect a similar group this time.

How advanced is the material?

Beginners should start elsewhere. As with both of Andrew's and my essays, we are focused on practitioners who are already doing the basics, and figuring out how to take the next step. The content will be intermediate/advanced. We assume that you know about AB testing, ad buying, etc., and the real challenge is fitting into a coherent strategy and prioritizing the roadmap. No silver bullets nor promises of silver bullets– just lots of lead bullets!

What will be the cost for the program?

Pricing is still being finalized.  We are more interested in ensuring an incredibly high quality group of people. Group rates for teams of 3+ will be available.  More details to come soon.  Apply here to get on the waitlist and receive updates.  

Is this right for bootstrapped teams or very early products?

Probably not. Find some product/market fit and build your initial business before you spend too much time on growth!

How actionable will the content be?

The content will be actionable, but there will be minimal “how to” content. The point of the lecture series is to provide a point of view and analytical frameworks for understanding growth, but specific step-by-step “how to” guides on setting up landing pages or buying ads can be found on many great sites online.

What timezone will the live Q&A sections be held?

We will have both morning and evening times for sections, Pacific time. If you can join for that, great, but if not all the section discussions will be recorded and it’ll be possible to attend this lecture series 100% remotely and asynchronously if desires.

Can I attend the program if I don't live in Silicon Valley?

Yes, however, the in-person events will only be held in San Francisco.  You do not need to attend the events to get value out of the program, but they are highly encouraged.  

How much about SaaS/B2B versus consumer?

I plan to have a balance of both SaaS and consumer – this is a lot easier as the “consumerization of enterprise” is now a real trend. This lecture series also focuses primarily on strategy rather than “how to,” and there are shared characteristics for thinking about growth across both SaaS and consumer. On the other hand, I won’t have any direct material on selling enterprise using an outside sales team, though it may come up in Q&A.

Is it possible to buy just the videos?

No.  We want people to walk away from the program withFor now, it’ll be all or nothing on participation, to ensure a high-quality experience. So there will just be one variety of program, not just the videos.

Will I get access to the videos, PDFs, etc. after the lecture series is over?

Yes, lifetime access.

Who will lead the live Q&A sessions?

All of the live Q&A sessions will be lead by either Brian or Andrew and sometimes both.