Awesome People - Ep 65

growth engineer, experimentation, A/B testing, key metrics

Hi fellow founders and VC Friends!

Each week we deliver one awesome person to your inbox. These are the people you need to know—the marketers, sales gurus, engineers, ops wizzes—who give your startup superpowers 🚀. The best part is, everyone is hireable on a part-time basis.


Please meet Dylan, Your Stellar Part-Time Growth Engineer 🚀

Yes, you read that right! A growth engineer! Dylan was referred by Jay Kennedy, a dear friend, and collaborator at Floodgate. Over the course of Dylan’s career, he’s helped spearhead revenue and user growth at Casetext (USV, Susa Ventures, and YC Continuity-backed co that’s raised $40M+) and Quizlet (Series C co that’s raised $62M raised and valued at $1B+). Most recently he’s worked on onboarding experiments for Quizlet’s 60+ million monthly active users. Fun fact about Dylan: he’s a digital nomad (like me!) and currently based out of Miami 😂

You can hire Dylan to identify changes to your product that improve acquisition, engagement, and retention. Since he’s an engineer, he’ll rapidly build and run the A/B tests himself. One-stop-shop!

Want an intro to Dylan? Lmk and I’ll connect you!


Dylan was gracious enough to share some pro-tips with us here 🙏

Minimize fear of experimentation

Change can be scary. Humans have aversion to change. I see so many companies deprioritize ideas, designs, and experiments they feel are too radical. But as a result, those same ideas, designs, and experiments end up being too safe. If you play it safe, your metrics will reflect the same. 

To overcome the fear of change, assign a Boldness score from 1-10 to each of your experiments. Then at the end of each quarter, review your scores and answer the following questions:

  • What is your average boldness score across all experiments?

  • How many experiments did you run that had high boldness scores? Low boldness scores?

  • What % of the experiments were successful? What results did those experiments generate? On the other hand, how many failed?

Tiny changes in UX can have a MASSIVE impact

At a previous company, we struggled to convert premium subscribers. After talking to users, we came up with a simple solution: if a user took a certain action, we took over the screen and said “you are doing x, but we think you’ll be better off doing y” with a clear call-to-action to upgrade their subscription. This was a super simple solution - anyone with basic JavaScript and HTML skills could build it in an afternoon. But it doubled our conversion rate and earned us millions of dollars. 

Remember: bigger isn’t always better. Even the smallest changes can drastically increase your runway. Talk to your users, generate ideas, and then A/B test for validation. Depending on the test, you can even do it all in simple JavaScript! Here’s a brief example to break it down:

  1. In the component that determines what version of the landing page to show, randomly bucket half of all users into the new landing page. Call it “version-a”. 

  2. For all users who see the new landing page, attach “version-a” to every analytics event that gets sent to your analytics provider.

  3. Using your analytics tool, compare actions on the “version-a” landing page with the existing baseline. 

Trust engineers with business metrics to increase velocity

When you trust engineers with a key product metric — like sign-up rate, conversion rates, new users activated, usage rate, etc. — good things happen. For example:

  1. Your engineers become more invested in their work. They see and understand how their work directly affects the business.

    • Example: When I’m tasked with improving onboarding or activation metrics, I’m invested in moving the metric. I dive into the current activation rate, past experiments, and user behavior. I run experiments to improve that metric. Some work, some don’t. As I test, I learn more. I ship experiments quickly and chase the feeling of a successful experiment. This loop creates a growth culture at a company.

  1. Day-to-day software engineering involves frequent decisions and tradeoffs. Owning a key metric leads to better decision-making. Your engineers will optimize their workflow to achieve that key metric. 

    • Example: I receive a design with a custom UI element that doesn’t exist in the codebase yet. I know we have a library with similar elements, but using it will make the UI look different than what was mocked up. Since I know the goal of the experiment, I feel empowered to weigh those pros and cons and use the library to save a day of work. 

  1. Your engineers will provide interesting ideas from a unique perspective. 

    • Example: I have a deep understanding of systems, automation, and new technologies. I might suggest a new API or an integration that gathers behavioral data in order to more accurately deliver a relevant notification. Non-technical PMs and designers might miss these ideas because they are non-technical. If you’re not sourcing ideas from the people who actually build the software, you’re missing out on game-changing wins.

Need a growth engineer? Dylan has your back. Email me for the connect 🚀


As always, let me know if you have any questions and if you want an intro to any of the folks in this email (including the PS section 🎉). 

Stay awesome,

Julia Lipton

Founder of Awesome People and Awesome People Ventures

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Most Recent Awesome People 🙏

Lily - Product designer and content creator also known as Designalily. Lily has worked with companies like TwitchZendrive (Series B co backed by Signal Fire), and Curtsy (Series A co backed by Index) over the course of her career. She was just featured on Business Insider for her product design work! 

Eric - Rockstar technical recruiter. Eric is a former VP of Engineering at Sema4 and COTA, Inc. He has a knack for spotting technical talent and now runs his own technical recruiting firm. Eric’s worked with 2 companies in the Awesome People community and is well-loved!

Evan - PR and content pro. Evan is a marketing and comms genius who’s helped his clients land features in TODAY, Reuters, the New York Times, CNN, and more. He’s even worked on viral campaigns with Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga, and President Obama’s inauguration in the past. 

Want intros to anyone here? Lmk and I’ll connect you!

Part-Time Opportunities 👀

Want to make some extra $$$ and work on interesting projects? Our new Awesome People job board is filled with awesome flexible roles. They’re perfect for full-time freelancers and moonlighters! We’ve collected some of the highlight roles here 👇

Marketing & Growth

  • Freelance Marketing & Social Media Manager for Aether - Aether is making diamonds out of thin air. They’re an Awesome People Ventures port co 😉. Apply here!

  • Part-Time Content & Social Media Manager for Better Ventures - Better Ventures backs mission-driven founders to build a more sustainable and equitable economy. FWIW, I love collaborating with them. Apply here!

  • Engineer Growth Hacker for The Beans - The Beans is automating personal finance for the American middle class. I’ve known Melissa, the CEO, for ages and she’s a real gem. Backed by Precursor, Relay, and Swing Ventures. Apply here!

Community

  • Interim Head of Community for Scout - Scout inspires empathy and connection through content, community, and screenshare-based social experiences. Zack, the founder (and friend), used to run product at Loom. Backed by Unusual Ventures, the CEO of Loom, and awesome angels. Apply here!

Engineering 

  • Freelance Full-Stack Engineer for Upfront Ventures - Upfront Ventures invests early in world-changing cos. This is a good opportunity to work with a VC firm! Apply here!

  • Engineering Advisor for Momentum - Momentum helps build recurring donation infrastructure for nonprofits. Backed by On Deck, Elizabeth Yin, and Mark Cuban. Apply here!

  • Freelance UI/UX Developer for Core to Coeur - Core to Coeur is a marketplace democratizing access to wellness and self-care. Backed by Coast to Crest and Angels. Apply here!

Design 

  • Freelance Graphic Designer for LOOM - LOOM offers inclusive, empathetic, and science-based health education. They’re backed by GSV, General Catalyst, Precursor, Slow, and Moxxie Ventures. Apply here!

  • Freelance Branding Expert for Poise - Poise is improving the world’s spoken communication with personalized coaching. Backed by Slack Fund, Brianne Kimmel, and Awesome People Ventures 😉. Apply here!

Interested in sharing a role with our network? Fill out our free part-time talent request form here 😎

❤️ ❤️ ❤️