On the podcast we talk with Jason about some of Strava’s big growth wins, the importance of feature education, and whether or not all product teams should actually be growth teams.
🛠 The shift in mindset that comes with "growth engineering" — it's about a greater focus on the user and a willingness to go a little faster than usual...
🌀 While chaos in an app business may be unavoidable, the secret is learning to embrace "managed chaos"
🔬 How the key to growth is testing — and creating a safe space where it's possible to test every idea
👩🏫 Why having employees who use the app every day is both a blessing and a curse (hint: it's connected to the new user experience and feature education)
About Jason van der Merwe
👨💻 Director of Growth Engineering at Strava
💡 “Make it easy enough to test any and every idea.”
👋 LinkedIn | Twitter
Links & Resources
‣ Check out Strava
‣ Work with Strava
‣ Check out Jason’s site and musings on growth and more
Follow us on Twitter
‣ David Barnard
‣ Jacob Eiting
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[1:58] Growing as an engineer: Jason explains what the role of a growth engineer entails — most importantly, thinking like a product manager.
[4:10] If it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen: Growth by word-of-mouth is the holy grail. How Strava grew before Jason joined looked different to how it grew once he joined.
[10:31] Flying blind: The board said that top companies have growth teams and to make it happen. Jason’s team had no idea what they were doing at first — it all started with tinkering and analyzing the metrics.
[16:26] From 0 to 100: Jason talks about how Strava’s growth team grew from nothing into five multidisciplinary teams with 70 people.
[20:37] Conflicts and scaling: Smaller meetings are more successful, but can be a challenge for creating a more overarching narrative.
[26:26] Core values: Strava has different teams focusing on different values, but all teams are platforms.
[28:13] Feature education: Developers can miss fundamentals — Jason explains how Strava factors this into development. Perfect observability remains a problem, but Jason says it’s important to move forward and make decisions in spite of that.
[31:31] Test churning: Because he was close to the problem, Jason could test nonstop. But now his role has changed, he needs to trust his teams and help them do their jobs well — illustrating the importance of engineers thinking like product managers.
[34:39] Stay focused: When debate about what to do becomes time-consuming and you’re not moving fast, you know it’s time to test more. Metrics like measured (not modeled) outcomes are key at Strava.
[40:09] Black box: No app developer has control of the App Store. App store optimization (ASO) might ease the pressure, but at the expense of the novelty effect. The best advice? Don’t depend on it.
[45:30] The power of copy: Visual design can be distracting for users, as well as powerful. But copy — no matter where it is — always has a huge impact.