Mattan Griffel, Co-founder & Chairman of One Month
From Simple Class to Epic Startup: Mattan Griffel and the Story of One Month
Mattan Griffel wasn’t prepared for his first job. After he graduated college, a startup company asked him to be their marketer, but he didn’t know how to be a marketer. Mattan had studied philosophy and finance, but despite years of delving into the life of the mind and the management of money, he couldn’t snag a job in the financial sector. So he sat there, tasked with an entirely different field: marketing.
Griffel really wasn’t prepared, so he decided to fix that. He charged into the challenge, devouring books on marketing, consuming online classes, doing everything he could to eat up as much knowledge as possible. In just a year and a half, he says, he learned more about marketing than four years at university taught him about finance.
Learn voraciously. A passion for new skills can expand your opportunities and multiply your successes.
Griffel’s drive to be good at whatever he did gave him the ability to successfully manage a marketing budget of half a million dollars.
Now, that same drive has put Griffel at the helm of One Month, a Y Combinator-backed education startup aiming to provide what he calls a “no-bullshit first month of learning.” The company has created a contingent of lightweight courses that each teach the basics of a topic—ranging from Ruby on Rails to HTML to growth hacking and more—in 15 minutes per day for 30 days.
It was his endeavor to gain marketing skills that exposed Griffel to entrepreneurial education outside the brick walls and stone pillars of formal schooling. Having learned from platforms like Udemy and Skillshare, he eventually began teaching for them. While instructing an in-person class on coding at General Assembly, Griffel met Chris Castiglione, with whom he would one day found One Month.
Griffel’s Advice on Creating Online Courses
Start smaller than you think you should. Griffel says that it takes a long time to record a high-quality course, and that sometimes less is more. You can always add more to the class later on.
That’s right: an online class shouldn’t be like a fossil in the record. It should be alive, constantly evolving to meet the needs of students.
“Don’t just think you can create a course, release it, and then it’s done,” Griffel says. You should listen to feedback and improve.
On the online side, Griffel crafted the course that would shape his future: One Month Rails. He thought he might get 100 students. He ended with over 6,000. “That was a total shock to me,” he says. It was the most successful course ever hosted on the popular e-learning website Skillshare.
Griffel realized that he could go bigger if he spun the course into a company of its own, so in May 2013, he and Castiglione launched One Month.
That summer, the duo applied to Y Combinator, ranked by Forbes as the number one startup incubator. In a scene from the dreams of many an entrepreneur, One Month was accepted.
The program gave Griffel and Castiglione some money for a living space and small salaries. “We started on June 1st and went until August 31st, and basically seven days a week we were working out of our own house,” Griffel says.
Y Combinator differed from his expectations. It isn’t like a startup school—it’s more of a focused environment. A weekly dinner served as one of the few formal parts of the program. Eating at the Y Combinator headquarters, founders would hear from speakers—people like Mark Zuckerberg, Jerry Yang, and Ben Silbermann—and ask questions.
“You essentially are working so hard that you are on the edge of burnout, and those weekly dinners are what keep you sane,” Griffel says. Leaving each dinner with an inspirational story gave him the energy to work for the next week. It underscores a truth for all entrepreneurs: you need to find inspiration to keep you going.
Along with a weekly group check-in and optional office hours, Y Combinator includes a demo day at the end of the program. “You don’t even get to demo—that’s actually a misnomer,” Griffel says, pointing out that the founders got only a few minutes to pitch to investors. Still, One Month raised $770,000 in seed funding that let them move back to New York and hire more staff.
Y Combinator was simple. “At first I was kind of disappointed,” Griffel muses. “I thought there would be more. It took me awhile to realize the value of the process comes from the simplicity.” The program peeled away distractions, leaving the One Month co-founders time to work hard and stay on target.
But you don’t need to be accepted into an internationally-recognized startup incubator to get that. You just have to hone in on what matters for your business: Focus on growth.
One Month is still growing, and Griffel shares his insight on the topic in a course called One Month Growth Hacking. Growth hacking refers to a creative, analytical approach to attracting customers that steps outside the mindset of mundane marketing. Griffel says that it demands a “mixed bag of skills.”
Learn More About Hacking Your Growth
Hungry for more on growth hacking? Check out Griffel’s epic SlideShare presentation on it:
Growth hacking isn’t limited to one tactic or technique. “Really, it’s more defined by the question that you’re answering, which is, ‘How do I help this company and this product grow?’” Griffel says. “It’s more about the outcome than what you do to get to that outcome.”
You’ll never get to that outcome if nobody cares about your product. You need a product that people want. Griffel says that you’ll have a hard time growth hacking unless it’s growing at least a little bit on its own. If you have a little growth and are making some money, then you probably have a product that fit the market.
What if you aren’t there yet? In the early stage of a business, Griffel says, the best thing you can do it to talk to people. But asking theoretical questions about whether people would use a product that does X, Y, and Z only goes so far—those doesn’t tell you whether anyone will use your product.
That’s why you need to ask people about their past. Ask about specific problems they’ve had, then listen and have them tell you more. Pay attention to the words they use, because those words can help shape the rhetoric you use on your landing page and other sales copy.
If you’ve achieved product market fit, then growth hacking can work.
Griffel thinks social media gets too much attention, while email doesn’t receive enough emphasis in growth hacking. “Email is an incredibly powerful channel for connecting with and communicating with potential customers and users,” he says.
Again and again, he sees successful products launch with the same strategy: the company collects emails as they build their product up, then sends a message to the entire list before launching. He recommends designing good squeeze pages, a term referring to fairly short web pages that only let users do one action, in this case, enter an email address.
“Create an incentive for people to sign up for the email list,” Griffel says. Tempting visitors with a free PDF e-book has worked well for him. “Don’t even worry about asking for a name,” he says. “Just ask for an email address.”
When advertising, Griffel says you should spend a solid chunk of money on ads aimed at people who’ve already visited your site. “Retargeting is almost always a no-brainer, the caveat being if you’re making money,” he says. When visitors enter your site, they often get distracted, or remain on the fence about a purchase. Retargeting can reel them back in.
That’s the kind of advice Griffel includes in his courses: actionable and effective. It’s an approach that has marked his career from day one.
He says: “We want One Month to be the place that people go when they first want to learn how to do something, but they have no idea where to start.” Griffel’s story proves that you really can figure it out—with the right strategies and a deep desire to learn, you can start anything. The trick is to finish it.
- Epic growth hacking strategies
- Key Entrepreneurial lessons learned along the journey
- Key lessons from a Y-Combinator backed startup
- How to create powerful and valuable courses that sell
- Mattan’s experience at Y-Combinator
Full Transcript of the Podcast with Mattan Griffel
Nathan: Hello and welcome to another episode of the founder podcast. My name is Nathan Chan and I am your host. Hope you guys are having a great week. What’s been happening in my world? Things are pretty hectic at the moment we’re getting some really really good growth and it’s a quality problem to have and I’ve picked up some good little productivity hacks that I just wanted to share with you that may be of help. I’ve found that multitasking doesn’t work it only slows you down.
I’ve always thought for a very long time that I’m a good multitasker which is probably pretty insane because scientifically ya know I’ve actually done a little research because I’m finding that I’m not achieving the kind of things that I want to achieve in the time frame that I want to achieve them so I started doing a little research in these past few weeks around productivity and there’s overwhelmingly so much facts and studies done that multitasking doesn’t work so one thing I’m doing now is I’m using the Pomodoro technique I have a timer that runs and I do increments of fifty-five minutes two fifty-five minute straight sessions five minute breaks after one so I go fifty-five five minute break fifty-five then a thirty minute break than I start again, rinse repeat and I’ve found that to be very very effective.
I trying to make sure that I’m meditating every day trying to make sure that my space is clean that’s another one. I find that if you have really cluttered space that can just cloud your mind and I have a lot of things going on I also, another thing that I try and do is I try and put my phone on silent and I don’t look at it during that fifty five minute streak of just focused time that I’m focusing on one task and that’s another thing and I have a list now of tasks that I focus on and smash out for the day and I focus on each task and incrementally cross them off. So yeah that’s working really really well, I’m finding out I’m cranking out a little bit more stuff and I just wanted to share that with you guys.
Now onto today’s guest, his name is Mattan Griffel and he’s the founder of One Month. Which was a startup that came out of y combinator and Mattan shares so much gold with you I know you guys really, I’ve had a lot of feedback on the growth hacking episode with Bronson Taylor and this one is kinda similar but Mattan ya know Mattan is another growth hacker, epic marketor and he brings so much to the table in terms of customer acquisition and also this courses stuff ya know a lot of you guys might want start doing online courses creating digital courses and training. Mattan gives us a ton of gold around that and he gives really really solid insight that he learned out of Y Combinator.
Now for you guys that don’t know what Y Combinator is it’s the number one most world-renowned incubator in the world so if you’ve got a startup idea you can go and take that to an incubator and that incubator takes a small percentage and then gives you some capital and they give you a whole ton of epic mentors that help you along the process and it’s like a three month period so just as an example ya know the founders of Redditt came out of y combinator, the founders of Twitch TV, all these epic startups a lot of them have been previously out of y combinator so yeah, really really interesting to hear Mattan’s insights on what he took away from Y Combinator what he’d learned and yeah everything that he’s doing with his latest business One Month which is growing like crazy so that’s it for me guys if you are enjoying these episodes please do leave us a review it helps more than you can imagine and by all means check out the magazine check out our blog, check out or social channels ya know we’re here to serve we’re contributing every day to this community as much as we can. Now let’s jump into the show.
Nathan: Mattan, how did you get your job?
Mattan: Ok so I, I’m writing this education company now I’m the CEO here, and the story is really long I guess it goes back quite ways but I think I’ll start when I was a teacher. Not like a real teacher I wasn’t teaching in college or teaching in High School, I was teaching part-time I was basically on the side just to make a little bit of extra money. I started teaching places like general assembly. First in person and then online insights like Yudame or on Skillshare. The first classes I taught was how to teach yourself to coach.
The class was like hour-long class that people would just come to like forty people per class on like a weeknight I would make something like forty bucks a student I would make half of that so it was a good ya know thousand dollars per night that I did that and that basically helped sustain and like everything else that I was doing on the side that wasn’t making money.
So I was teaching those classes and um that’s where I actually met my cofounder because he was another teacher there at general assembly and so I did how to teach yourself to code, I did a growth hacking class I even experimented with classes like productivity or how to build slideshow presentations that people think to look cool ya know all sorts of different things like that ya know I find that once I started teaching I was really enjoying it just being in front of a room full of people ya know just sharing this information and I wasn’t really an expert in this kind of stuff but I was kind of like taking this thing and distilling it down in a way that people that were total beginners or people who didn’t know where to start with a topic could understand it so ya know it started there and from general assembly I ended up creating a class on coding which was on Skillshare and it became the number one most successful skillshare class ever.
I ended up having six thousand students by the time it was all said and done and that was a total shock to me like I had never expected the class. Honestly, I thought the class would have maybe hundred students I thought I would make a little bit of money but this was just like this incredibly market response I guess like people telling me there was definitely a need for this content and the people graduating from it just like had the most amazing stuff to say
and they all wanted more classes so this was kind of the turning point for me where I realized like yeah this needs to happen so I applied to Y Combinator off the back of success of One Mandrell Time Skillshare and then I got accepted and that was the summer of 2013 and since going through Y Combinator we’ve then kind of expanded it to one month and started tackling other topics and we now have six courses we’re working on four more that we’re going to launch this quarter and they’ve expanded beyond just like learn into code we now cover growth hacking and we’re looking into like meditation and copywriting
and just a bunch of interesting things all around this angle of learning in a month just depth starting points like we want one month to be the place that people go when they first one to learn how to do something but I’ve no idea where to start.
Nathan: Wow, yeah that’s fascinating. Well look I connected with you because I stumbled across your one month growth hacking course and I’m doing it right now it’s absolutely brilliant I’m really enjoying it and I’m learning a lot and I love this whole marketing pace so I’m curious you know like I found you because a friend forwarded you, one of your emails that you got that you sent out of the video about growth at Y Combinator and I was like wow this guy’s got his marketing down pat and he’s got his copywriting down pat I’ve got to talk to him
Mattan: Yeah that was the one metric that mattered video I think.
Nathan: Yeah, so can you tell us a little bit more about your experience at Y Combinator and what your biggest takeaways were from that experience and what our audience can learn from you from doing it at one of top startup accelerators?
Mattan: Yeah sure, alright one of the questions that they ask you in the interview process at Y Combinator is why do you want to go to Y Combinator. You know presumably you have a successful startup you have a good idea you have a good team or whatever like why do you even need us and my answer to that was that it’s going to help the business succeed because even just being associated with Y Combinator means that we can hire people that may not join otherwise that like they would hook us up with press and publicity and investors and really just give
it more essentially validation credibility that was really what I understood Y Combinator to be when I was interviewing and even when I got accepted there and I think that it’s like a perfectly reasonable reason to go right I mean it actually let me hire some of the best people because there’s a difference when you’re hiring an amazing developer to tell them that you’re a Y Combinator company that brings with it has been a prestige but when I, when we actually got to Y Combinator I didn’t even know what it was going to be
I think I was kind of expecting, kind of like a college in a way I got there and I was expecting alright Mondays is when it starts, where to we go, you know where’s the building that we all work out of, what are, what’s the schedule like ya know what are the lessons the lectures going to be like I kind of expected it to be a start-up school and it wasn’t they basically said, no this is it, in fact you’re not going to be working here you’re going to be working out of your own house they give you a little bit of money and it lets you rent a house for the summer and it lets you pay you and your co-founder basically minimum wage support yourself and your working
there every day of every week for about three and a half months so you imagine like we got into it we started in June first and it went until August 31st and basically 7 days a week we were working out of our own house we like got up rolled out of bed still in our boxers get into the computer and the day starts and the only formal thing of the entire process well there’s three formal parts of the program there’s a weekly dinner that happens every Tuesday night and at that weekly dinner and everyone meets at the Y Combinator headquarters which your encouraged to stay close to so like a 5 or 10 drive maximum so you can just go down there whenever in case there’s an event happening but a there’s this dinner that happens once a week and they bring in just the most amazing speakers Mark Zuckerberg or Jerry Yang who co-founded Yahoo or Gun Silvermanson from Pinterest,
Ron Conway, ya know some really realy cool speakers, Mike Bloomsburg was one of them and these speakers would just take maybe an hour talk about their story and and they would usually get interviewed by Paul Graham for like another half hour and then people in the audience got to ask questions the class is pretty big there were like 60 50 startups in the batch and so there were about a hundred, hundred to one hundred and fifty founders so you can imagine like a cafeteria full of people and that’s it and that’s like a dinner and that’s really the only sort of social experience you get throughout the week
which has this really interesting effect because you essentially are like working so hard that you are on the edge of burnout dinners are what keep you sane it gives you just enough of that social interaction checking in with other Founders and showing off your product right I mean these are these weekly check-ins that kind of ensure that you actually make progress on a week-by-week basis and you see the other partners and then you leave it with this inspirational story just like amazing tell from whoever the speaker was and just inevitably
I always left the dinners feeling like wow I could go home, I have so much energy and I just want to get right back to work and that would basically carry over until the next dinner to the next week so there was a dinner series which was really the main interaction you had there was also obviously the demo day at the end of the entire program and that’s like you know you pitch in front of investors for 2 and 1/2 minutes I think it was super short you don’t even get to demo that’s actually like a misnomer got to talk about your company and and then they sort of have like a dating style system
where investors can say they want to talk to you afterwards and then you can meet up with them and essentially do your own thing but was really very little structure at the how that process unfolds and then there’s a weekly kind of like group check in when they started experimenting with bigger batch sizes so they subdivided them into smaller groups and you would do this weekly check in where they sort of experimenting with bigger batch sizes so they’ve subdivided them into with like maybe 15 other other people other founders and startups.
There’s also the office hours that you can schedule with partners but those are essentially optional like you can go online and you can schedule office hours and then you can meet with them for 20 minutes you don’t have to if you don’t want to so there is you know that’s essentially y-combinator you know I searched those kind of like disappointed you know like I thought there would be more but I knew that it took me a lot to realize the value of the process comes from the simplicity I too often we try to do so much the ability to just focus and to just say I mean it’s like I mentioned in our post the one thing that will just get constantly asked of you and reinforced is what’s your growth like,
how much are you growing this week vs last week and if you can hit that 7% burst number per week then you’re good then you know then there’s sort of this implicit promise that on demo day you’ll be able to meet investors that like refunding all that stuff will come through and all you have to worry about is growth and there’s no distractions besides that which I think has a lot of lessons honestly to how companies should run their businesses in general but especially in terms of what you’re measuring and getting bogged down with all these things so that’s kind of a long roundabout answer to your question I think.
Nathan: Yes it’s really interesting so I’m curious you did end up getting funding?
Matton: Yeah so we came out of Y Combinator and we ended up raising a seed round on a convertible note and the total round was $770,000 so that that allowed us to we move back to New York we hired people and sort of that carry that’s a long we were in this kind of unique situation and that we were profitable coming out of Y Combinator partly that’s because we already we only came into it with a certain amount of progress like we already had a class I was selling that there was a market for but also because we already came into it with a
certain amount of progress were actually charging for a product just the nature of the business whereas other startups in the batch you know some of them had launched the ad or some of them had launched but like they weren’t near monetization so for companies like that they are much bigger imperative and sometimes you have to raise much more money so we got away with you know raising a fairly small round coming out of YC and it wanted to do stuff that we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise but we didn’t need it which was nice.
Nathan: Okay well look let’s yeah this is really great I want to talk to you on one of your courses which is month growth the one that I’m doing I’m curious what did you get your growth hacking skills from and what can our audience learn from you I mean what’s some big takeaways that they need to learn about growth hacking and can you give us a quick short intro about what growth hacking is?
Matton: Sure so I think that my skills come from so many different places growth hacking is coming with a mixed bag of skills really it’s more defined by the question that you’re answering which is how do I help this company in this product grow so it’s more about the outcome than what you do to get to that outcome so you kind of find people who have successfully grown company after company and you know has grown product to like tens or hundreds of millions of users and they all do it in a slightly
different way because they have different backgrounds a lot of them come from the technical side like their coders or they at least have a strong understanding they were sort of trained in this coding mindset and then they were smart people who were challenged with a problem of not like shipping the feature but like what do we do to grow it to get more users to reduced turn to increase lifetime value how to get more people to refer their friends or whatever it is and they respond to that with anything from referrals you know features a b testing releasing learning pages onboarding pros I mean like whatever it is so for me I started out as a marketer at a startup first job after graduating from college and I’ve never studied marketing
I actually studied finance and I studied philosophy also I had a double major and I ended up having to do marketing because I couldn’t, like honestly I couldn’t find a job in finance I wasn’t able to get a job so it was the only option that I had and so I was like okay I like this company I like these people they were doing advertising products at the time and I was like I will be your first marketer they were a team of 15 people they never had a marketer and I took that upon myself as a challenge because I always wanted to be really good at whatever I did so I started taking classes in marketing I started online classes reading books about marketing essentially
sucking up all of the knowledge that I could that was actually how I first learned about General Assembly and Skillshare and Udemy and all these resources and in that first year-and-a-half while I was there I almost feel like I’ve learned more in that year in a half that I did in college like I learned more about marketing that I did about finance and I ended up managing like a marketing budget of about half a million dollars throwing like a full-scale conference we won a Guinness World record for one of the campaigns that we did
we did some cool stuff while we were there so a lot of this and that I didn’t really, I still didn’t consdier it growth hacking at the time but I went from there to actually starting to do a little bit of marketing consulting for startups and it wasn’t until that, you know it wasn’t until I went and I learned how to code, I taught myself how to code that the two started fitting together where it became growth hacking and became how do I apply the technical knowledge that I have to thinking about growing users and getting more uses for a product.
Nathan: I see and what are some quick wind growth hacks that you can give to the audience that are looking that have started something that have achieved product-market fit or thereabouts. What are some quick wins that you would give?
Yeah actually I release a slide here called 29 growth hacking quick wins that has a talk that I gave recently so that’s for free online for anyone wants to check it out and I’ll name a few of them so first of all I guess the caveat is you’ve already hit product market fit because a lot of people I feel a lot of people use growth hacking technique they like to look for a growth hacking as the answer to how they can grow their product before they actually have a product that people really really need like maybe a product that a few people stand up for or have expressed interest in but unless it’s something like that is already kind of growing on its own a little bit you can have a really hard time getting it from not growing to growing using growth hacks like on their
own right with that being said there are a lot of things that they started to overlook just email in general channel and strategy and all the strategies around you know emails really overlooked I think there’s too much pressure put on social media and there’s not enough put on email don’t worry about building a Twitter following don’t worry about building a Facebook following build an email list and put all of your energy into collecting emails because email is a incredibly powerful Channel for connecting with and building and communicating with potential customers and users and its way under appreciated and undervalued and it’s hard to do honestly but for almost every single startup that has succeeded email has been a critical part of that
success so you might as well figure out early and what I’m talking about is like products that launch and just teach huge success almost always the strategy is built up a large list of emails before launch and then when the launch is ready then you can start to use that email list you can build emails by building fairly simple landing pages they’re typically called squeeze pages, squeeze pages are short pages that only have one thing that you can do on them there are no links that let you click away or that send you some help the only thing that you can do is put in your email address and ya know, usually you do it in exchange for an incentive,
like there’s a video series or even if it’s just here’s what my startup is like maybe a video and give us your email and we’ll let you know when were live and when we’re ready to go cause emails a big one and honestly doing just the email capture allows you to sort of a launch early or pre-launch as early as possible and start to test out messaging start to test out copy and headlines that even different audiences which is something you’re going to have to do it eventually so you might, might as well do it as early as possible.
What are some other big ones, I mean I talked about measuring that promoter score which is really cool when you get a lot of feedback from users and there’s some great tools for doing that like like promoter IO retargeting is almost always a no-brainer that’s like depending on if you’re making money on a product I’ll give you a charging people for subscription or something retargeting is awesome and essentially that’s just clicking on someone who’s been to your site and then advertising to them later to come back to your site and sign up you’re going to get a lot of people to come to your site the mean to buy they mean to check out the product or whatever it is and then they get distracted or then they’re sort of on the fence and we tell them to those people who generally give you like a multiple return above what regular paid advertising will get
you that if you were like a social network if you’re a product that doesn’t charge people up front and really like no paid advertising is going to work for you or you’re going to lose a lot of money doing it that way and podcast ads are also really effective at least they have been for us the story from other setups is that they’re really effective for them to but usually when I think of like a company that has to grow with very little money or no money at all you’re generally talking about like either a growth hack like product features which are really hard to do honestly or you’re talking about organic marketing and organic content creation and the way that I think about doing contact creation is like just think about the audience that’s going to be using your product what kind of questions are they going to have so if you’re like mint.com and people are using you for financial
services people who are interested in finances also gonna maybe have questions like how do I file my taxes or how do I do my or how do I sign up for a 401k or like should I sign up for an IRA or whatever those things are I mean that’s an example what’s already been done because I did it years ago but if you can think of that kind of question is that your audience is going to ask I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing a blog because blogs can be hard to set up and hard to maintain and SEO takes a while to build up so think about all those other content sites out there that already have an audience sites like Cora sites like Slideshare you know Reddit’s all these different sites where you can take this knowledge that you have and formulate it to something that is going to be that other people do the job of promoting for you. Meetup.com, like start a Meetup around the interest and then submit that events to all the events newsletters if you’re in a major city that was a real great strategy for us early on at grow hack we actually built a meet up over a thousand members doing that and so those we’re just a few off of the top of my head.
Nathan: Yeah I know this is awesome. I kind of brushed over product-market fit we probably should touch on that because people listening to this that’s a question that they’re facing that’s often a hard question to answer. How do you advise your students know if they’ve received product market fit, is it making money is it you know set amount of users. How do you tell yourself you’ve got product-market fit?
Mattan: You know honestly that’s a hard question and I don’t know the answer because I got lucky I think you know I stayed with my class I didn’t expect it to be as big as it would be like I knew some people would want to sign up for the class but I didn’t know that this many people also wanted to learn how to code a lot of people tackle a problem and they maybe think that there are more people out there that have that problem than they’re really are or they maybe think that their product is a better solution
for that problem then it really is. Ultimately at the end of the day the only thing lie or in close approximation is just are you making money your company growing on its own right and if you are making money and if it’s growing a little bit on its own and you know you have product market fits it doesn’t answer the question of how big the market is right and that’s always a question right some markets are bigger than others what is the best when you can do at that earlier stage is talk to people and is a whole sort of body of knowledge around what’s called customer development you which ya know it overlaps with
growth hacking I think you can use a lot of the strategy in growth hacking to do customer development as well stuff like quitting learning pages prelaunch testing out markets with paid advertising you doing like the ab testing there and using a lot of the tools the survey students and stuff like that but real customer development it’s a lot more than that and so I would like highly recommend reading some of the books around that there’s a great book called The Entrepreneurs Guide to customer development I initially did lean what is it lean startup machine and you learn a lot about questions you really should be asking the one that
I see people make all the time is like they think they’re getting feedback but they’re really not because of the way that they’re asking questions you know people fall into this trap pitching a startup idea talking about like all of the cool bells and whistles because they’re excited about it because that’s like what they want to build and then they ask wouldn’t it be great if they’re was site that can do this and that can let you easily do this like check out apartments and then you create a shopping list and you can you know go through a video walkthrough and then and then they sort of like ask them, would you use that? and of course,
they’re going to say yeah because like the thing they describe is amazing right like who wouldn’t use that but that’s not really the hard part, the hard part is what’s the thing that you build gonna do, like what’s that gonna look like and will people want to actually use the product that you built and the only way to answer that question by building and putting in front of them but you could also ask them good questions to explore the problem itself and like the interesting thing in the problem just like have you ever had a problem with and then fill in the blank like have you ever had a problem trying one of the code and you-you want to ask about the past when asked specifically about that because call mindset right like you’ve asked people have you ever had this problem if so tell me more about that and you just go to listen to the words that they use and there’s going to be a lot of the words that have guide will you actually end up putting in your landing page to solve for them later a really tough thing to be right so I ultimately don’t know the answer to that.
Nathan: Yeah no, that’s fair enough and I appreciate your honest answer because it is a hard one to ask I went through that, yeah just to touch on the copywriting piece that’s gold I use that to we have a feedback up in place for Founders, so anyone that subscribes to the magazine they can take it for a droop feed campaign and one of the questions we asked is ya know what is your biggest problem what are you struggling with why did you sign up and all that feedback comes through and we use that in our copywriting so that I really want to emphasize on that, that’s it’s really really powerful.
Mattan: Yeah when I first got my job I had like three different ideas for companies that I thought would be would be affected so I built landing page for each one and it turned out turned out some of the people didn’t care about so I think the better approach to product market fit is like, don’t try to make the product that you have fit a market you know do a lot of stuff off the wall and see what sticks.
Male: Yeah that’s what I think is that how you would approach all of your marking you just don’t know the answer just testing right?
Mattin: I mean we still do that right? Like we release classes and we don’t know how-how successful the classes are going to be. We don’t know how many people are going to sign up for each class like what but we know that people ask for classes ya know we don’t build classes that nobody has asked for but we don’t know ultimately if those people represent a large Market or not a large market so when we create these landing pages for classes we’re collecting email address those classes don’t necessarily exist yet and we’re really getting feedback about ya know do people want this and how many people want this versus another class and we’re also tweaking the messaging we’re tweaking what’s even in a class with the title of a class all of this stuff before we ever have to put in the work of creating class because too many people do it the other way around they build something and they get frustrated and then they try to figure out how where to sell it.
Nathan: Yeah its a humungous conversation, look we have to work towards wrapping up. A couple of questions, What is 1 months USP as opposed to a Udemy? How do you guys position yourself to being an alternative?
So yeah we kinda get this question a lot mostly it comes to the education space it’s like we’re pretty competitive right now you got these Marketplaces like you to me and Skillshare to a certain extent Coursera and Udacity. You’ve got Code Academy which teaches people to code for free. You have Treehouse and Code School which has, exactly Lindas, like the big player in the space and each one has its own sort of twist very high-level what one month stands for is that starting point it’s the place where people who who know they want to learn more about something but they just don’t know where to start with it.
So you know you want to learn how to code or how to build mobile apps or you know you wanna, you know you have this problem which you need to grow your company with you just don’t know if all of this research is out there you don’t know which ones to consume which ones to interact with and that problem has existed forever right and this is they would aggregate all this knowledge in the form of libraries and then the teachers would basically tell you okay guys here’s what you need to know from all those books you don’t have to read all those books and so what Udemy and what Skillshare is really doing, is aggregating this
marketplace of all these online classes ya know you go to Udemy you search for growth hacking or you search for iOS you’ll find dozens of classes on each one of these topics and so it doesn’t really solve the problem of knowing where to start knowing the quality of the content knowing how long it’s going to take or what you’re going to walk away from it knowing. and these are all like really good questions in your mind when you’re first starting out like you don’t want to waste time taking a class it’s going to suck or it’s not going to teach you what you really need to know so our approach is just, it’s like the no bullshit like the first month of learning something and we walk you through to the point where you actually have like a working thing at the end of it it’s all project-based, and it’s 30 days it’s 15 minutes a day so it’s lightweight self-paced and you can do it in your own time
you can do two weeks of it ya know you know you get busy at work or something comes up you come back 2 weeks later and you can pick up where you left off right so it’s a model that people like compared to the more in-depth you know college kind of setting or like a general assembly or in person kind of thing but it’s also you know we walk people through this and we have support we have mentorship we have people there in case you run into problems in case you have any questions so we are a lot more than what a lot of those other platforms are as well so ultimately that’s that’s the big challenge for us is setting yourself apart in a way that’s clear to people in a way that people understand in a way that it’s sort of immediate apparent like you first come to our websites and so there’s ab testing that’s involved in that there’s testing out different tactics like we’re probably gonna be putting up different videos on the homepage to sort of explain what we’re all about and see which one of one of those resonates better.
Nathan: Yeah well look, if your one month growth hacking course is anything to go buy you’ve got me across the board as you know a super customer advocate that, ya know I trust you guys, I know you know your shit so it’s a great course so I’ve sure that you’ll have a lot of cross-selling to these other courses and I really like the community pace you have once you get in there which is really great so that’s a strong differentiation there’s almost support as a lot more hand-holding and you know I’ve purchased Udemy courses that I have never finished, I don’t know why but there’s something to be said they’re right?
Mattin: Yeah yeah that’s ultimately it, yeah you know do you like the content do you trust the people do you like the feeling it provides and do you learn something?
Nathan: Two last questions, one you talked about email marketing I think you’re spot on this is a really really big pace so often people say the money’s in the least especially from you know a lot of the internet marketing world and you know a lot of people make money online. What is your number one most effective tip for growing your email list?
Mattan: Create a simple squeeze page you can do that in something like Undows where you can build your own and create an incentive for people that sign up for that email list so what works really well for me is Ebook like PDF ebooks you can just put something together either in like word or like PowerPoint or Keynote and just exported to PDF and connect it to an email list so that it’s the first email that they get after they sign up and just tell them you know if you give us your email we’ll give you an immediate access to this amazing ebook that explains how to do this thing or like a short video that you recorded
15 minutes or 30 minutes you can do with a webcam you can just do it with ScreenFlow or Camtasia recording what’s on your screen like give them something that they get in exchange for signing up don’t just ask them to to give you their email you know in return for updates or whatever it is that’ll be the biggest thing and if you do that right testing out your ability to like to get the action but it’s also much lower risk than like giving you their name and giving you their… you know signing up you know giving your passwords and all that stuff and also like don’t even ask or worry about asking for a name just ask for an email address
Nathan: Ok awesome, another question was around courses a lot of people are creating courses a lot of people that’ll be listening to this will be creating their own information products like you guys got that down pad what’s your biggest take away cuz you’ve done a lot now, what’s your biggest take away that people can learn from you around this piece, this education piece?
Mattan: Start smaller than you think you need like don’t start with this huge vision in mind with this big course because it’ll take a really long time to record a high-quality course and it’s okay if you’re embarrassed by what your course looks like when it first launches, I was definitely embarrassed by my first skillshare course I thought people would hate it and people ended up loving it in fact. I originally planned to record like this full course that showed you how to record a full rails app with ruby on rails. I only recorded half of it. I only got to a point where you built an app a site where people can log in and there was nothing it actually did you know and I thought people would hate it I thought people would feel like they got ripped off and people love it ya know
because it was short enough in scope that it was easy for people to finish they didn’t feel overwhelmed they knew they could learn more if they wanted to but some of them were like okay cool on this is enough for me so you’re much better off with a smaller course that you charge five or ten dollars for or twenty dollars for than a huge course that you charge one hundred dollars for or two hundred dollars for because the small one can always turn into the bigger one later on if people ask for it so release something that’s smaller and then just start to listen to feedback as early as possible and I’ll constantly be improving it like don’t just think you can create a course release it and then it’s done
Nathan: Awesome, alright well look Matton this has been absolutely an awesome conversation I really enjoyed speaking with you/ Yeah we’ve got a lot of gold so yeah look I just want to say thank you for actually taking the time.
Mattan: Thank you for taking the time as well and I hope your listeners like it.
- Learn more about Mattan on his website
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