How to Succeed with Freemium and Hybrid Monetization — Paul Ganev, Surfline

How to Succeed with Freemium and Hybrid Monetization — Paul Ganev, Surfline

Our guest today is Paul Ganev, Vice President of Strategy, Business Development & Analytics at Surfline. On the podcast we talk with Paul about the strategic pitfalls in modeling Total Addressable Market, how freemium should work, and why Surfline’s current success was actually 38 years in the making.

Our guest today is Paul Ganev, Vice President of Strategy, Business Development & Analytics at Surfline.

On the podcast we talk with Paul about the strategic pitfalls in modeling Total Addressable Market, how freemium should work, and why Surfline’s current success was actually 38 years in the making.


Top Takeaways:

🎯SAM not TAM — The total addressable market (TAM) provides an overview of the market's potential size, but it's too general for strategic purposes. The serviceable addressable market (SAM) more accurately reflects the market portion you can realistically capture.

$ Understanding Price Sensitivity — Price sensitivity involves three key elements: Purchasing power (your market's ability to buy), commitment (likelihood of investing in your app), and value proposition (the value your app offers).

⚖️The Freemium Balance — Success in freemium models hinges on balancing increased conversions with retaining free users. If prioritizing one over the other becomes necessary, focus on retention to allow time for app improvements.

📈Growing Freemium Conversion Rates — A small percentage of free users convert to premium. The strength of freemium lies in its potential for increased conversion rates as your app improves and retains free users over time.

🤝Monetizing Through Partnerships — For free users, displaying ads can monetize the audience that may not convert. For premium users, focus on partnerships offering exclusive deals or benefits to enhance value and average revenue per user (ARPU).


About Guest:


👨‍💻
Vice President of Strategy, Business Development, and Analytics at Surfline, an app that provides surfers updates on current wave conditions.

🏄 An avid surfer himself, Paul joined the Surfline team because he was passionate about the product.

💡 “The biggest issue that I see with most companies that are going out to market and putting together their commercial strategy is they'll use TAM and they'll model everything off of that… But in reality… it's really important to figure out what the serviceable addressable market is.”


👋
 LinkedIn

🏄‍♂️ Check out Surfline


Episode Highlights:


[4:11] The 38-year-old startup: Surfline was originally founded as a 1-800 phone number in 1985 and added consumer subscriptions in 2001 (before Netflix did!).


[5:57] When TAM fails: Total addressable market (TAM) is an unrealistic number for modeling the number of users you’re likely to get — instead, calculate the serviceable addressable market (SAM).

[14:46] Different approaches to TAM: You can calculate TAM from the top down or bottom up, whichever makes more sense for your business.

[19:04] The formula for price sensitivity: To effectively price your app, you need to understand (1) your users’ purchasing power, (2) your users’ level of commitment, and (3) the strength of your value proposition.

[24:40] Keeping the “free” in freemium: Remember to balance conversions with free user retention — it’s much easier to convert existing free users than it is to acquire brand-new users.

[37:48] Ads for all: Consider partnering with relevant brands to provide special offers to further monetize your paid subscribers.