By @SimonCocking. Back in 2014/5 we were involved in the Dublin Growth Hackers talks. By then the the word ‘growth hacking’ was already being used, with nods over the water to the insights and innovations carried out by the orginator of the word Sean Ellis. Therefore it is a great honour to now have the book he co-authored sitting here on the desk as we wrote this piece. 

We have pulled off an exclusive interview with Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown, the authors of the new book called Hacking Growth. Sean coined the term “growth hacking” after using it in early days to ignite massive growth for Dropbox, Eventbrite, LogMeIn and Lookout. Now the book is out, two days ago we got a pre-release copy of the book and some unique insights from Sean and Morgan. Early signs already suggest the book is going to be another success for them. We spoke to them to dig a little deeper into what growth hacking is, and the philosophy behind their work and day to day strategies.

Just to remind us how well the book is already doing, two days after it’s release Sean said “Hacking Growth now is number 1, 3, and 5 in Amazon’s hot new releases in Marketing!”

What is both of your backgrounds briefly?

Sean Ellis is CEO and founder of, the number one online community built for growth hackers. He coined the term “growth hacker” in 2010, after using it to ignite growth for Dropbox, Eventbrite, LogMeIn and Lookout – each now worth billions of dollars. Sean also founded and sold customer insights company Qualaroo, growing it to millions of dollars in recurring revenue with customers such as Uber, Starbucks and Amazon.

Morgan Brown is the COO of Inman News, a B2B media company and a startup marketing veteran with more than 15 years helping early stage companies find traction and breakout growth.  Prior to Inman, Morgan held interim growth lead roles with Y-Combinator backed TrueVault,, Qualaroo, and the startup accelerator, Science.

Does it seem like a logical progression to what you are both doing now?

Yes, Sean and Morgan both started in marketing roles and evolved into broader leadership roles as we realized the importance of cross functional growth cooperation.  Most marketers just don’t have the needed influence to leverage the most powerful growth levers, many of which sit in the product organization such as activation and engagement.  Our book is a guide for CEOs and functional leaders to work together to unlock growth in their organizations.

We are big fans of your work and successes over the last few years, but in your opinion to what extent Hacking Growth can replace traditional marketing?

The answer to this question really depends on the company size.  For early stage startups, growth hacking is often the starting point for driving growth and traditional marketing comes later.  In a more established business, growth hacking enhances the effectiveness of traditional marketing rather than replacing it.

How widely can these strategies be used outside the internet and tech sectors?

All companies should be looking for ways to experiment across the full customer journey to accelerate growth.  In the Internet sector it tends to be easier because analytics make it easier to track the journey.  But some retailers have gotten very adept at tracking users and new technology announced from Facebook promises “the ability to see how people’s online interactions translate to in-store purchases with the addition of support for offline conversions.”

Will techies have to think more like marketers and vice versa, in future?

Both marketers and techies will need to think more about how technology can be applied to improve the user journey to a great experience.  So yes, this will require both to become a more dynamic in their skillsets.

What are the best examples of Hacking Growth in use?

In the book we cover how the BitTorrent team was able to get a 92% increase in revenue with a single experiment that added a highly visual button to the app’s home screen encouraging users to upgrade.  Another example from the book highlights how Airbnb doubled their New York revenue based on learning from experimenting with professional photographs of listed properties.  However, these are the exceptions.  Most growth hacking wins are less exciting and success is based on the accumulation of many small wins.

What does the future hold for marketing and / or Growth Hacking?

All companies will make the shift to cross functional growth efforts based on experimenting across the full customer journey.  While there are cultural challenges to making this transition, the potential gains are too big for companies not to make the effort to transform their organizations and processes.

We love reading books in hardcopy, it seems like a good way to have quality offline time. Question, what inspired you to write the book?

Morgan and Sean are both passionate about helping teams bring great innovation to market.  Our approach is based on understanding and accelerating the delivery of truly valuable experiences.  We’ve been helping companies for years with growth and this book will allow us to reach and help many more deserving teams who are struggling with growth or want to take their already strong growth to the next level.

Data-driven insights are important, how do you blend this with human insights – as you are still ultimately selling to people?

Our approach is to combine both qualitative and quantitative data to run smarter experiments to accelerate growth.  It is very important to be empathetic to customers through this process but to use research to expand beyond our own preconceptions of customer needs and issues.  Ultimately an improvement in customer behavior is the best validator of an effective experiment.

Is there anything else we should have asked / you’d like to add?

While there is a lot of depth to this book, the premise behind the book is relatively simple. Value is at the heart of all sustainable growth. Understanding how customers get value from your product and testing to improve the amount of value that you are delivering is key to sustaining effective customer and revenue growth. The book lays out how teams can work together to achieve this goal.

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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