We thought Noom was a weight loss company, but in this episode of The Breakout Growth Podcast, Sean Ellis and Ethan Garr discovered that weight management is actually just the gateway the company is using to meet much larger objectives. In-fact, as Artem Petakov, Co-Founder and President of Noom explains, Noom is the largest consumer-facing healthcare company in the world, and its goal is to help people make healthy choices and to change people’s lives.
- A mission much larger than weight management (3:18)
- How the question, “what would we be proud of having done on our deathbeds,” helped drive Noom’s founders (5:17)
- Why Noom chose to focus on the consumer as the ultimate decision-maker but has kept enterprise partnerships on its menu (8:46)
- How an early consultation with Sean helped bring a North Star Metric and a test/learn approach into Noom’s process (11:30)
- Leaning on psychology internally to drive a more effective organization (14:23)
- What drove Noom’s tremendous year over year revenue growth (21:23)
- Why Noom believes “brainpower is greater than willpower” (23:01)
- Building healthy relationships with customers to impact healthy changes (28:28)
- Why 60 or so steps to onboarding works for Noom in the context of its mission (33:21)
- Why Artem believes a maniacal focus on people and process is key for sustainable growth (38:18)
And much, much, more . . .
During the pandemic, Noom’s popularity exploded, but their journey actually began more than 12 years ago, when Artem and his co-founders began looking for the most meaningful ways they could make an impact in the world. Artem had studied behavioral science and knew that behavior change requires a big data set. He and his co-founders realized that using weight management as an entry point into people’s overall health could unlock the giant data set they sought.
The company’s approach to solving weight problems is very different from other solutions as Sean realized when he recently began his own Noom customer journey. There are no point systems or physical locations, and the company’s mobile app focuses on intervention, not tracking. The system uses data and psychology to help change how people think about food. With this approach, breakout growth has come into focus, and Artem is intent on “building the machine to get things right.”
Rigorous experimentation and a maniacal focus on people and process helped drive Noom’s 2020’s revenue to around $400 million dollars (nearly twice that of 2019), but throughout the conversation, it became clear that for Artem, this is just the beginning. The company measures success by Quality-Adjusted Life Years, which means success for them is not just about dollars, it is about helping people live longer, better and healthier lives.
So join us as we find out how sustainable growth is being built every day at Noom.
Introduction 00:00:08 Welcome to the Breakout Growth Podcast, where Sean Ellis interviews, leaders from the world’s fastest growing companies to get to the heart of what’s really driving their growth. And now here’s your host Sean Ellis
Sean Ellis 00:00:25 In this week’s episode of the breakout growth podcast. We learn what’s driving Noom’s incredible breakout growth results. In 2019, they grew 400% to over $200 million in sales. And that was their last publicly released growth numbers. So Ethan and I sat down with Artem Petakov Noom’s co-founder and president for really fascinating conversation. He explained that the company goes beyond weight loss to leverage its deep expertise in psychology to help customers make healthier choices. I personally have been using Noom for the last few weeks and I’ve dropped 10 pounds. So I’m a big believer in their approach to building healthy habits. It’s really different from anything that I’ve used in the past. And it’s, it’s based on being probably a very mission-driven company. They have a North star metric that’s focused on improving quality life years for their customers. I can’t think of a more important missing than that. So before we get started, I wanted to invite you to check out breakout growth.net.
Sean Ellis 00:01:25 It’s a companion website for this podcast that Ethan and I just launched in the last week or so. So recent content includes a new growth playbook for B2B companies based on a lot of our insights from the interviews that we’ve had with B2B companies. And then Ethan actually just published a new article on using OKR and a North star metric to take your growth execution to the next level. It’s a great article and I definitely encourage you to check that out. So again, go to breakoutgrowth.net and you’ll see those articles in addition to some other resources. So let’s jump into our conversation with Artem and find out how Noom is driving breakout growth with a clear focus on it’s mission.
Sean Ellis 00:02:20 Welcome to the breakout growth podcast.
Artem Petakov 00:02:22 Thank you for having me so excited to be here. Yeah, it’s great to have you on and also a welcome to my co-host Ethan, Gar.
Ethan Garr Hey guys. Nice to be here with you.
Sean Ellis: Yes. Yeah. Um, this, this is going to be a fun interview. I mean, particularly for me, uh, since I’ve, I’ve followed noon for the, uh, for the last several years, as you’ve, as you’ve gone down this path and a sun article recently that that really jumped out at me. So it was a Forbes article that said, um, that your revenue in 2019 had grown 400% to $237 million. And it was like, Holy crap, you guys have a lot, lot further than even I had realized. So, um, those numbers are really incredible. What a, obviously I know what Noom is, but, um, probably the audience now who doesn’t know, it might be saying what the heck is noon. So it could, maybe you can introduce us Nim and tell us how it’s a little different from competing services or very different.
Artem Petakov 00:03:18 Absolutely. So, uh, we are, uh, the largest consumer facing healthcare company, uh, specifically we’ve we make a psychology based program that empowers you to make healthier choices by better understanding yourself, your brain and the science of choice. And so what that, what that means is we essentially start we’ve started in the weight loss category and really broadening that understanding of health, uh, every kind of healthy choice you can make. We are there for you with that healthy choice. So whether it’s sleep, exercise, eat, uh, stress, we’re here, we’re here to help essentially change what’s up here, what’s in your brain to help you make better choices. And we’re doing that with combination of AI data and thousands of human coaches, and that’s what we call sort of superhuman coaching. And that’s the package.
Sean Ellis 00:04:12 Very cool. Well, um, I, I think I’ve already mentioned it to you, but I started actually using Noom to take off that quarantine 15. And, um, I’ve been super impressed with, with the whole experience. So far as a consumer, not just as a person, who’s interested in how you’re growing.
Ethan Garr 00:04:28 Thank you. It means a lot just in case, you’re wondering if your referral loops are, are working. Shawn’s been talking to me about it almost every day and I’m like, I have to start this, uh, probably do it tonight. Um, but yeah, so art of you co-founded, it looks like over 10 years ago. Um, I think people, you know, they’ll see the TV commercials and think it’s an overnight success, but you’ve been at it for awhile. What led you originally to like this space? I was going to ask you what led you to the weight loss space, but it sounds like it’s not just weight loss. It’s really what led you to the, you know, healthy choices space.
Artem Petakov Yeah. Um, it’s been 12 and a half years. Um, I initially really looked at it, um, from a pretty quantitative standpoint of thinking about how could, how could I make the most impact?
Artem Petakov 00:05:17 And I, I really, my co-founder and I are always thinking about how can we, what would we be proud of having done on our deathbeds? And maybe it’s a little morbid to kind of say that, but, you know, it’s really honestly how we think and changing as many lives as possible was of course, what we wanted to really do. And we spent some time looking at education and healthcare and ultimately decided healthcare was even more, uh, broken and even more in need of help. Um, and specifically on the, in the behavior change side, there’s really very few people looking beyond, uh, beyond the operating room. And even in those for looking beyond the operating room, many people are looking at physiology versus psychology. And so it really was a good intersection of being able to make a lot of impact and then being able to, um, apply the behavioral science that I had been studying.
Artem Petakov 00:06:15 I was lucky enough to take a class with Daniel Kahneman who really got me interested in just about applying this behavior change stuff. And I thought, always thought, okay, what are the domains where it could be most relevant? And so healthcare became that. And then we, uh, spend some time thinking about, okay, where we’re in healthcare. And we settled on weight management as a gateway because, um, it is a consumer value prop that resonates with so many people. So if you take a room full of a thousand people and you ask them, Hey, how many of you want help with your diabetes? Uh, and we know in that thousand people, statistically speaking, there’s 110 diabetics in that audience. Um, I, what we usually see is about 10 people of those 110 raise their hand. If you ask a room full of people, that same room, how many of you want help with weight loss?
Artem Petakov 00:07:08 300 hands are gonna go up and amongst them will be 60 diabetics. And so we are actually able to, by that value prop have more of an impact on exactly the kind of chronic conditions that are really critical to health care, the hypertension, the diabetes, um, various, uh, various other cardio-metabolic conditions. Then we are, if we put on sort of a business suit and said it, and I also think more broadly speaking in healthcare, there is lack of consumer understanding and consumer orientation. And so I think those are some of the things that were relevant then are continued to be sort of bets that work now. And it’s just a good platform. You know, if you have a big data set, uh, behavior change requires a big dataset. And, um, we now have a big, we knew as we went into weight management, that we would just be able to have a larger end, um, to, to, uh, to essentially, uh, evolve the solution upon and build the platform on. And that part also works
Sean Ellis 00:08:12 As I was looking back at my notes from when we were talking back in 2016, I was realizing that, um, I think at the time you were kind of going from it, you had quite a bit of enterprise focus as well. Now, as you described the business being consumer-facing, and obviously for anyone who’s paying attention to advertisements out there, there’s a lot of consumer targeted new mats these days. Um, what, uh, so is enterprise still part of the business and what led to the shift to being more consumer focused?
Artem Petakov 00:08:46 Yeah, it’s a good question. We, we think that consumer is the ultimate decision maker here, and we want to, to align the company around the consumer, um, deciding, uh, being the ultimate decision maker. And so that’s what led us here. It doesn’t mean that we’re never doing any kind of enterprise partnerships. In fact, those are very much on the menu. It’s just, you know, the same way that Apple, yes, they do a bunch of enterprise. They sell a bunch of enterprise hardware to enterprises, but they’re still consumer oriented. And so we really see ourselves as a consumer company, um, whether whoever is paying for it, it’s just step. One of that is very much let’s win the hearts and minds of consumers and let’s deliver real value and consumers are gonna hold you more accountable for that. The, the, this honestly sad part about the healthcare system right now is there’s not a whole lot of accountability and, uh, incentives are not necessarily aligned even with innovations, like sort of accountable care and all of that innovation, the incentives are not aligned for long-term outcomes. In some ways the consumer is the one that’s looking out most for their actual long-term health. And that’s what the company is about. It’s about long-term outcomes, long-term health. We, we just found a more natural alignment there. Right.
Sean Ellis 00:10:05 And then I, I assumed that that, that probably led to a pretty significant shift in how you approached growth.
Artem Petakov 00:10:12 Yeah. I mean, well, first of all, just much more, much more focused. I mean, we ended up, um, really laser sharp, um, focusing on that consumer stuff again, not giving up, uh, and, uh, um, for those, for those listening along, it, it, it doesn’t mean that we’re not doing that stuff. In fact, we’re, we are looking into various partnerships, but it comes to it from a different point of view. You already, if you’re an employer and you already have a bunch of people using them, can we provide some extra infrastructure for you? So more like a Dropbox model versus needing to go door to door selling, um, selling our solution. So, um, yeah, and I think for growth, it just meant more laser-focused and for product, uh, to, if you’re trying to build an enterprise product at first, there were so many things you have to build that don’t actually add consumer value, um, that are necessary. Absolutely. You know, the HR benefit manager, the, the various stakeholders in that ecosystem, but that’s a lot, uh, it’s a lot of things to build that are not changing outcomes and we’re all about outcomes.
Sean Ellis 00:11:19 And then how, how did you develop that, that kind of growth skillset in the business as you, as you went more in the consumer direction? Or how has that evolved over time?
Artem Petakov 00:11:30 I mean, um, as, as we were reminiscing with Sean earlier, um, a lot, I, we did, uh, have a consultation with Sean early on to, to point us very much in the right direction. And it’s honestly been a combination of being very focused on some North star metrics of along consumer success of really being able to do that. And then building measuring and learning that build measure, learn cycle, including, although on the Medtel level, I would say that’s one thing that we do more of these days is look at the Metta machine, not the experiments themselves, but the machine that’s running the experiments. Um, how can we run them more efficiently? How can we be more rigorous when we’re looking at, uh, the data science part of it interpreting the results we did. Of course, we were looking at statistical significance early on, but now we can really look at that across much more noisy indicators, like actual outcomes and weight loss results.
Artem Petakov 00:12:33 Whereas in the beginning, it was harder to look at those without a data science team. How do you probably have so much data now compared to compared to the earlier days? And, um, you know, how do we give PMs more autonomy? So we’re constantly debugging the growth machine itself using growth methodology, uh, using the build measure, learn. So, Hey, this quarter, let’s try a different way of doing things. Let’s try, uh, having the PMs be able to, uh, to be even more independent. Um, and how do we apply that to deeper and deeper in the product? So we keep, we’re always, um, for, for us, it’s really the line between for many companies that can be a big line between marketing and the product itself, but for us, we’re a behavior change company. So think about how do you get somebody to pay for a healthy behavior that they may not even want to do?
Artem Petakov 00:13:29 Well, you have to change their behavior. So it’s a behavior change in the hits, a behavior change in the buy flow, um, that’s necessary. And so for us, it really blends the lines, blurring the lines between product growth teams. Um, there are different just different stages in the journey. And so I think that’s changed a little bit. I think when we talked, initially, we, we, uh, we, we didn’t know how to apply that to the core product now we do. Um, and then also just developing more long range metrics and looking at more proxy metrics, because the deeper you get in the product, the harder it is to have metrics that are fast moving, uh, for example, outcomes, they do take some time to generate. Then you use the best of data science to start building predictive metrics. Okay. How does engagement and had a certain kind of meaningful engagement and predict outcomes?
Artem Petakov 00:14:23 We do a lot of that. Um, and then I would say, lastly, we just lean a lot more into psychology and I think that’s why it’s been. So, um, part of our success, I think, has been taking a lot of this, uh, uh, growth methodology and, and the measurement and all of that, but also layering it with our bread and butter of psychology. And because we’re so deep into psychology, we are able to, the types of hypotheses we come up with are, um, more scientifically grounded, uh, and maybe deeper than average, um, sort of girls’ team.
Sean Ellis 00:14:57 Yeah. I mean, psychology is such a powerful lever in growth anyway, but you know, most of us are kind of reading a bit of <inaudible> and trying to, trying to process all of that and apply on the end. And there’s some pretty effective tools in there, but just given that that’s like such a deep expertise I saw actually in something I read that you have a chief psychology officer, is that right?
Artem Petakov 00:15:20 Yeah, exactly. And we work very closely and that’s the person who, uh, who also leads, um, those thousands of coaches. Um, and, uh, and at the same time distills a lot of that knowledge. So we work super closely, um, with, uh, and we have, uh, other folks on the team who have psychology PhDs. I think that’s a really, um, I think that’s in many ways, um, what’s special about whether product or growth, um, at Noom is, is that focus. And I think it’s, I think it’s a huge lever for many, for anybody coming in. That’s what, that’s, what we sort of say is our value prop. Anyways, people coming in, we’ll teach you this stuff, maybe a great product manager or growth person, but we’ll teach you all the psychology and, and advance it. Um, we are constantly learning the truth about, and she had Deni is great.
Artem Petakov 00:16:11 I think, um, uh, all these different Dan Ariely is great tandem and this great, I think, uh, in practice, in a digital setting, uh, many of those things aren’t replicable that worked with 50 grad students are not replicable, uh, and don’t work and it’s not because they were bad studies, they’re just in a different context. So in many ways we’re finding, um, things that are uniquely relevant to a digital online, uh, presence.
Ethan Garr Um, I’m looking forward to, uh, to really diving in with you guys, with you on the team and approach. Um, I just want to take a step back real quick though, and ask you in the face of this pandemic. I mean, uh, Sean mentioned the quarantine 15 that everyone’s talking about these days, which I assume creates a lot of demand for new, but, um, how has the pandemic affected weight management in general and your business and, uh, some of these larger issues that you guys are trying to tackle?
Artem Petakov 00:17:10 Yeah, look, um, and the pandemic I’m personally, by the way, incredibly passionate about, um, doing more, um, there it’s actually completely honestly it’s, uh, it’s. I just, I wish knew it was a little bit bigger and we could do more personally for the pandemic itself in terms of getting people to wear masks and sort of socially distance understanding the behavior change aspects of that. Uh, we looked at that really carefully early on in the pandemic and sort of decided, well, we’re just not, we can’t quite afford that yet. Um, maybe, maybe in a year, um, we can, we can work on that, but, uh, what we said, we’re actually really helping, uh, to reduce people’s chronic conditions that make them more predisposed to, to get really sick from COVID. So that’s what reassured us, we’re still very much on this mission. Um, and so, yeah, COVID made a lot of people prioritize their health.
Artem Petakov 00:18:08 Um, and so it then created demand for all kinds of solutions to get people to live a healthy lifestyle. And of course knew him as one of them, I think for us, um, you know, for, for me, we saw Noom growing a lot before that, even when some of the, I think now a lot of the scare has worn off, but yet we’re still seeing meaningful growth and we’re seeing that growth. I think it’s because people just became much more okay with digital solutions in general. Um, I, you know, much and you see that you obviously saw that acceleration in a ton of different digital companies, but making digital health just more. Okay. Um, and so of course, uh, knew him as a beneficiary of that. Um, and the desire to be healthier is something that’s here to stay. And I think people’s digital, um, habits are here, are here to stay. So, um, that’s the silver lining, I think of this, of this terrible crisis for public health.
Sean Ellis 00:19:11 And I think a lot of people in the past have been drawn to weight loss to look better and maybe feel a bit better. Um, but the, but the real like health risks of being heavy became just so apparent in COVID that, um, I think it is, uh, a catalyst that’s driving a lot of people. And, and interestingly, this is the first kind of a new year during the, you know, sparked by the pandemic. So new year’s is obviously another time that people pay a lot more attention to their weight and health and start setting those targets. And so I assume the intersection of those two things is probably probably drawn a lot more people to you and, and, and others in the space for, for getting healthier.
Artem Petakov 00:19:55 Yeah. And look, people are, uh, hyperbolic discounters. I don’t know if you guys have heard that term, that’s the psychological terms for people discount future outcomes on a hyperbolic scale, you know, so very, very quickly, you know, it’s sort of, one of those $1 today is better than, uh, you know, $10, uh, you know, uh, a year from now. Uh, so very rapid discounting these things. And so when, uh, the pandemic brings forth, um, these very serious health consequences today, that’s very different for people. Visualiz visualizing that than saying, Oh yeah, we’re going to get sick in your eighties. Um, and your, and you’re, and you’re going to, you know, diabetes, uh, it’s not talked about, but diabetes cuts, uh, people’s life expectancy, sadly by 10 years on average, 10 years and 10% 11 of Americans have diabetes. So it’s the silent killer. It’s just a slow silent killer. And so now we have a fast and not so silent killer and it makes people then realize, well, these, you know, my actions really have consequences. And so I think, um, as terrible as it is, that’s the one thing that’s, that’s the one silver lining there.
Sean Ellis 00:21:08 I, I think I read that you are not publishing your 20, 20 growth rates. Um, what, what led to the decision to, to, to make the 2019 available? Because I assume that Forbes didn’t just publish a number without you guys providing it to them.
Artem Petakov 00:21:23 Yeah, we can, we can say that we’ve about doubled, uh, uh, in, in 2020, we, so we, we hit that approximately 200 million in revenue in 2019, and then we doubled that in 2020. So, um,
Sean Ellis 00:21:37 You know, those numbers are amazing. Um, and, uh, and, and, and the growth rates have been strong. I think I saw it, like, it kind of th that, that even the F the 400% in the years leading up to 2019, so it’s, uh, yeah. Eventually the law of big numbers kicks in, but absolutely. Yeah, but it’s, uh, but yeah, I mean, I, I think more importantly as you’ve touched on is, is the mission that you’re, that you’re pursuing and, and numbers are a reflection of just progress on that mission. And, and it’s, uh, it’s, it’s really cool. Cause I, I can tell you that I’ve, I have struggled with weight for 20 years, but I’ve never formally done any program until noon. So that’s always been like, okay, I’ve heard I should cut carbs. Oh, I’ll try, I’ll try intermittent fasting. And, um, you know, I kind of tried things, but never formally signed up for anything and it’s know Noom has really been life-changing for me. And I, I, I’m confident that I’m going to stick with it. Long-term like, multi-year just because I like the accountability and the education and, um, you know, just, just general lifestyle approach of it that goes beyond just weight to mental health and all the other parts of that fit together to, to make people happier and
Artem Petakov 00:23:01 Healthier people usually try and do it on their own. Uh, but the reality is we just don’t have the tools. Uh, it is about actually understanding that psychology. We have a saying that, uh, brain power is greater than willpower. So if you can really teach and make yourself aware of those thought patterns that are, that are controlling you and to understand, okay, well, I’m, I’m walking into a movie theater and something about being in the movie theater makes me want to crave popcorn, like nothing else, right? Irresistible, completely irresistible urge. Well, how do you interfere with that? And is that, and that’s not, uh, that’s not destiny, that’s changeable if you’re doing it that way. If you just try and resist it, you will not, you will not give in, but try and separate that trigger from, from the stimulus have subcon popcorn before to satisfy the craving.
Artem Petakov 00:23:52 And then you can start to decouple that decouple the popcorn from the movie, and suddenly not as many, not as much dopamine is coming out from the pup and the brain is just funny that way it makes associations and it makes you do things in a subconscious way. So there’s a lot that, uh, and there’s a lot of these different techniques and tricks and understanding that we can teach people and then get them to practice it over and over again, until it looks at them on a, on a good path. So a lot, um, I, I think your own experience is not that different from many people we’re trying to help.
Ethan Garr 00:24:26 So years ago, I think the, a lot of the weight loss, weight loss systems that were out there, like the weight Watchers and the Jenny Craig, they really focused on like, sort of this holistic approach where it was like you had books, you had, you had information. And then they had physical locations for their, you know, for their business and actually did weight Watchers years ago and had some success with it, but it didn’t stick long-term. So I, um, I wasn’t visiting their physical locations per se, but I know a lot of people did, obviously that doesn’t exist in the pandemic. Uh, has, has, have you seen the digital transformation in this industry, uh, sort of helping digital first brands like new?
Artem Petakov 00:25:05 Yeah, absolutely. And I also think to your point, I think you made a very astute observation that, um, it is harder to stick with something in the physical world than it is to stick to something in the digital world. Uh, right. It’s just a bigger barrier to entry to travel somewhere and to do this. Um, and so I think that’s one of the really interesting things that, uh, being digital. Yes, it’s hard to, it’s a higher bar to build. It’s harder to build behavior, same science tools and do things like empathy and, um, connect with people and create rewards and et cetera in the digital world, but it is the way of the future. And we’re solving that. Um, it’s just really hard. So you, you see essentially separating, uh, companies that are, uh, equipped to do that and that are not. And, and, and, uh, and the future is just in the digital side.
Artem Petakov 00:26:02 Exactly. Also because of that dynamic that you need, this behavior change to be sustainable and digitally, it is a lot more sustainable because you can decide to spend a minute a day. You can even have it, uh, passively and we’re working on all kinds of stuff to have new work at a variety of engagement levels, very much on the roadmap to, to make it, uh, to make it be a big part of your life or a smaller part of your life. And you can dial it down in second increments, uh, on a daily basis. So, um,
Ethan Garr 00:26:34 Yeah, you mentioned empathy and it seems like, uh, you’ve dialed that in as a really important component of this. Is that something you came to early or did it take
Artem Petakov 00:26:44 Time to figure that out? It’s pretty foundational in the reward, um, sort of positive reinforcement, um, scheme. So we always knew it. I think we’ve been dialing it up, uh, and, uh, always looking for more, um, for more ways to create empathy. So for example, that user coach relationship, how do we deepen that? And we’re constantly iterating on various protocols for our, for our coaches to very quickly form rapport, uh, with people, um, on, in a digital way, which is hard. But if you can, if you can do it, you can do it. You can, you can then be so much more effective. So we’ve always known it was a key, but the devil is in the details. Uh, isn’t that how a lot of, uh, how a lot of, uh, the stuff has, uh, anything on product, the overall principle is pretty clear, but how do you actually do it?
Artem Petakov 00:27:43 And how do you build very early on in the product? We always knew that if you, um, eat something, a lot of these products that are, and there’s a portion, of course, new misbehavior change, there, there’s a portion of that that’s tracking. So you can quantify your behavior change. A lot of the solutions by the way, in this space are purely tracking and new Ms. An intervention product. Notice that that’s it. And that’s, uh, with all that implies, it’s actually harder to intervene than it is to track. Um, imagine asking and, but, and, and tracking is a way to change behavior. It’s a sort of an indirect one, but it’s a way to get yourself aware and to change that stuff. But imagine taking an alcoholic and saying, okay, well just track the number of drinks you’re having on a daily basis that will surely help you.
Artem Petakov 00:28:28 It, like, it’s not enough, it’s just not enough to make a change. So when we built, um, things like even, um, even the food tracking so that we know how much progress the person is making we early on built empathy in there that said, if you, uh, we’re not just going to say, Oh yeah, this is your number of calories versus your budget. We’re going to find something positive to say to you after you locked it. Well, great job on logging the meals, your urine, a streak of a bunch of meals. Now, if you have a healthy item, we’re going to highlight that. And so we have a complex ECOS, we have a complex set of kind of ranked algorithms that decides what kind of feedback to show the user to highlight something positive, because what you don’t want to be slapped on the wrist you’ve logged.
Artem Petakov 00:29:16 And then you immediately say criticize, right? It’s the equivalent of being slapped for doing something that was good. You logged in. And even if you ate a burger well, let’s highlight the fact that, yeah, there’s, uh, there’s hopefully veggies in that burger. So there’s some lettuce, that’s a positive thing to look at. And next time let’s just have more lettuce and less, you know, and, uh, and it makes it from a quality from a qualitative to a quantitative, which is incredibly important to have that because you always have all or nothing thinking, sorry. Yeah. I love this stuff so much.
Sean Ellis 00:29:48 Yeah. So one of the things that’s really interesting as I was putting together my, my goals for 2021, I looked back at my goals for, for 2020 and logging my food was actually one of my top three goals for the year. And, um, it, I, you know, and I, and I was using Fitbit at the time. And exactly, as you said, I just, um, mean it was important enough to like, make it into one of my top goals, but I don’t think I lasted more than a few weeks doing it, or maybe even a couple of weeks. And it was just, it was too much of a pain in the butt to do it. And yet I yet with Noom somehow, I just feel like, I think part of it’s the classification of, of green foods and yellow foods and red foods. And, and I, the, the, the analysis that goes on to my eating, there’s just more reward for logging it in than simply just knowing how many calories I ate. And so it’s, uh, that it, you know, whatever you’re doing there has really worked for me to the point where I actually enjoy logging my food, which I there’s no way I would have said that in the past.
Artem Petakov 00:30:54 No, it’s all good. Yeah. Thank you. That means a lot. And we are, we are still, honestly, we really think various identically. We, we do think Nim is sort of a good mouse trap, but we think we’re 20% done. We were very early. I look at that stuff and I say, Oh my God, we are the biggest, the biggest hurdle has just been hiring enough, um, kind of product managers and engineers, and, um, just builders in general to, to make this stuff come true because it’s not, everybody’s favorite thing to work on. People don’t know that space. There’s just way more people who have worked on, on email or on getting your car to, you know, to a place where if you hit a button, you can, you know, your car shows up for getting that TV show to show up. So it’s been hard to find people who are psychologic in many PMs are also trained more in, um, kind of logistics and figuring out just re just direct problem solving, which is really important, but not the psychology, not sort of the child Deni Conaman Ellie type stuff. And so that’s one of the reasons why self-serving way I wanted to also talk on this, um, uh, on the podcast because I felt, Oh my gosh, she’d probably have folks in your audience who, uh, who could contribute
Sean Ellis 00:32:11 Hot topic for us. Yeah. But I also assume that, um, that your mission has to be so attractive for the right people to want to join a team. That’s that’s has the potential to make that much difference in people’s lives and that, and, and, and anyone who’s not attracted to that mission is probably not a good fit for your team. Yeah,
Artem Petakov 00:32:33 No, and we’ve had really good, honestly, you know, I’ve been very lucky to have really good retention because of that. You know, people who do join are, are very happy to be here and, um, that’s, that’s been working and I think we’re also, we’re also careful. Uh, we, we are, we’ve decided not to more than double the company in, um, in a year, just because we found that companies go straight sometimes when they grow too quickly. So we are, um, we are very careful about our culture and making sure that we have enough time to evolve it. And as we scale, that’s been a really critical part of the equation, because I think a lot of times you have that loss of excellence as you scale, and you kind of never get it back. I’ve just noticed, uh, even when you go down, you never get it back. So that’s been, that’s been really critical for us as well.
Sean Ellis 00:33:21 Yeah. So one of the things that really surprised me when I was signing up for the app was how many steps there was to get started with it. And I, and it actually brought back to me that the fact that we had, yeah, that was one of the things that we really dug into when we talk four years ago was, was rethinking that aha moment. And, you know, do you need to have someone talk to a coach or not talk to a coach? And, um, I, I was shocked at just like how, what a different approach that you’ve taken to that onboarding yet. You did it in a way that I, I personally really enjoyed it. It was, you know, 60 plus steps or 60 ish steps yet each one of those steps, like one of the things I really liked was, you know, you’re, you’re essentially helping through, through the onboarding, you’re helping someone visualize the outcome and really, um, take ownership of that outcome in a way that’s exciting for them.
Sean Ellis 00:34:20 And then, and then giving them a timeline of how long it will likely take for them in particular to reach that. And then as they answer additional questions shrinking that timeline, and you’re starting to think, yeah, I am more disciplined than the average person. I am like, no wonder it’s shorter. This is cool. And actually really driving that belief in the person that they, that they will be able to get there. And so, um, whatever you guys have done, I’m not sure if there’s been a lot of testing with that or whatever it is, but it was just, it was very different, but I, I looked at it and was super impressed with it.
Artem Petakov 00:34:58 Thank you. It means a lot coming from you and you got it right. I mean, it’s, it’s, um, with a lot of times people come in not being very confident in themselves, right. They have low self-efficacy. Right. And so you have to build that up. Um, they may have unrealistic expectations, so you have to gently kind of set that straight in a positive way. So you start out, um, from the average and you lower that down, you, the visualization of the outcome, it’s so important for intrinsic motivation. Um, a lot of people try to, somehow I, you know, th there nothing wrong with those approaches, but a of times people say, okay, let’s just throw money out. It give them a lot of sentences in these enterprise programs like incentives, right? Give them money to be, it’s like worth so much money to people to be healthy.
Artem Petakov 00:35:48 Do you think by giving them 10 or $20, you know, really, um, make a difference. It’s like, no, get them to actually visualize that they could actually be there, um, in not a crazy amount of time with some milestones in the middle. And that means the world to people and you empower them. And we get to every single test. And we do a lot of testing that every single test that we do on the, on that flow is we are testing it against actual outcomes, um, and engagement, uh, that predicts outcomes. So we have a leading indicator of engagement. So we’re not looking for, Hey, how to optimize conversion. We’re looking for how to optimize outcomes and provide more value to people. Uh, and that’s, that’s the type of, um, buy flow that evolved from
Speaker 3 00:36:39 When you started that process. If, if you had said we’re eventually gonna get to 60 ish screens, do you think, um, do you think the team would have like, kind of pushed back and said, Oh, no, that’ll never work. Or, or, yeah,
Artem Petakov 00:36:51 I think so. I think so. I think, um, I’m totally, I’m myself. I’m very surprised how, uh, how that’s evolved, because I think there’s always a sort of skepticism of positive friction, even little bits, right. That I think, I think I, I first heard about positive friction from, uh, on the Casey winters blog. Um, and, but it was a little bit, it was like, yeah, just choose a couple of interests on Pinterest, um, for us, um, this is really making people think and stop and, um, and consider these things has been, has been really good. Um, because in this, in this world, and it’s, it’s recognizing that kind of setting up your program and doing this stuff is a big part of the aha moment, a big part of, uh, it feels pretty pleasant to set up, uh, whether if you’re going to go running, it feels pretty pleasant to set up the t-shirt and, uh, and the shoes, the next, the previous, the previous date, um, preparation is really important. And so, and it, and it helps too. The good news is that preparation helps you get invested in, but into actual behavior change. And so we see that in the outcomes that we, that we drive it’s clearly working. I mean, obviously just a great product. What do you feel are the key success factors in this breakout growth that you’ve achieved? Like, is it killer tactics brands? Are there are a couple of things?
Artem Petakov 00:38:18 I think, um, I think, I think the two things are, and this will sound trite, but I’ll add, I’ll add details to make it less, the maniacal focus on people and process, um, the people, it is super screening that we do on people who are coming in, um, to really understand ability for, uh, sort of, uh, psychology site, but also problem solving from first principles and being, and being, um, a fit for the new culture, which we define as following the operating principles. And so very, no, no more, no less. I think it’s really important to have a set of codafide operating principles that we’ve stuck to things like be super transparent, but be nice about it. And then another really important one for us is optimized for fast learning. So optimized for fast learning, is it really, um, is, is our version of, um, move, uh, move fast and break things, or, you know, uh, or the, the, the less sexy and move fast with stable infra, I think, right.
Artem Petakov 00:39:28 Um, spend a lot of time thinking about it. And I think the hacker mentality or the builder mentality is, um, a lot of times, okay, let’s build, let’s build. And we think of ourselves more as scientists and scientists who have been doing this stuff for quite a while are actually usually moving up to evidence pyramid slowly. And so they’re first going to do a literature review, then they’ll do a retrospective analysis and then they’ll do a randomized controlled trial. Not because they just feel like doing that, but because that’s the process that optimizes for the fastest learning. And so I think a lot of the builders spend a lot of time building in not a lot of time analyzing, and it’s like, Oh yeah, that failed. Okay. Well, moving on to the next one, versus spending a ton of time digging into hypotheses and building.
Artem Petakov 00:40:13 And even before you build it, really reading literature on this stuff and thinking more deeply. So I think we look for people to make that. And then we also are constantly evolving the process, looking at the machine, like I mentioned in the beginning at the experimental machine and saying, how do we make this better? How do we make this better? And the entire growth team, uh, Nickeel, who’s heading it up, um, is, is doing that the acquisition team is doing that and the product teams are doing that. Um, and, and the brand and creative team. So everybody has gotten on that bandwagon of what I call optimizing the derivative. And so we’re getting smarter about how to get smarter faster. Um, I think that’s, and, and using, I also liked the line that I read somewhere. I think it was maybe a no rules rules on Netflix, where they say you use additional budget to fight complexity versus creative.
Artem Petakov 00:41:04 And so, so easy to have more and more bureaucracy, more and more of this. And if you, but if you track the build measure, learn cycles, as soon as you see a slow down, you’re like, Oh my gosh, what’s what’s happening. And how do we, how do we streamline something? Okay, well, there’s somebody in the process that made it slower. Maybe QA had to get more fancy. Okay. How do we dial, how do we dial that latency down? Um, so of every particular of every, of, uh, of the particular experiment by doing that on the machine level. So that combined with sort of the typical lean, agile, all this stuff, I think that’s been, that’s been making a difference, so you’re really balancing getting it right. And getting it fast all the time. Is that a fair assessment? Yeah. But, but also, but, but even not in the particular thing, we’re trying to figure out how to build a machine that builds it.
Artem Petakov 00:41:55 Right. Um, right. It’s, it’s, it’s, um, I, you know, not to, not, to, not to quote too many different things, but I, you know, I, I think, um, at some point Tesla was saying, okay, it’s really important how you build the factory is the machine, right. It’s not the machine that you’re building, you want to, right. When you’re doing batteries or something, it’s the factory that you build that becomes, and you start versioning of factories and is that factory versus one factory. So I think of that two new team processes, version one noon team processes, version two. Um, and then how do you, we also spend a lot of time on learning and development. So we have a two week bootcamp for everybody who starts, where we teach a lot of problem solving and a lot of, and it’s all this stuff that, you know, uh, I was learning from Sean back then.
Artem Petakov 00:42:42 So it kind of the accumulated wisdom of what we’ve taken from all these different disciplines and, um, and combined them together into this bootcamp. That’s very hands-on and people are solving stuff and doing this, I think way too much way too many people kind of just jump in and have everybody keep making the same mistakes, but you can save people so much time and empower them so much more, give them more autonomy if you teach them upfront and give them some simulated experiences upfront to, um, you know, to do that. And one more example, I’ll give you that we’ve played around with, um, is even taking, taking incoming, uh, PM and giving them a list of previous experiments that were run and try and have them predict which ones of them worked and which ones didn’t try and the muscle to try and build some kind of a muscle to build the neural network, essentially the classifier in their head, so that they can start better predicting which of theirs will work or not work.
Speaker 3 00:43:45 I think sometimes that also helps to highlight that it becomes really hard to know what’s going to work or not work. So you need to run it as experiments.
Artem Petakov 00:43:52 Sure. Of course. That’s the, you know, that’s, that’s like the higher a bit, but the question is, can you improve your at-bats by 0.1? Cause that’s so worth it. Right. So yeah, of course you’re not gonna, you’re not gonna be, Oh, sort of 1.0 success, but can we do something? I don’t think, I think it’s important not to just kind of throw your hands up in the air and be like, well, it wasn’t unpredictable, you know? Um,
Speaker 3 00:44:13 Particularly, yeah, if you’re, if you’re not spending a lot of time in existing learnings, then, then you’re also going to, you’ll be starting from scratch each time instead of
Artem Petakov 00:44:24 Right. That’s right. That’s right. And, um, and that’s that continued by the way that learning database, that’s still an elusive problem for a lot of growth teams. Um, and I know that’s stuff you’ve looked at before, but it’s, um, you know, still iterating on that, but like investing in real resources into making that, um, into making that work, um, instead of just saying, well, that has to be sorry, those learnings, they just have to not be quantified because they’re too ambiguous or, you know, or, or slow down the whole machine. So we document every learning. No, you have to just have to push ahead on that.
Speaker 3 00:44:58 I think the, I think the problem why I couldn’t kind of productize very well in that space is that you guys are like a nine out of 10 in terms of how good you could be doing. Like there’s always room for improvement for everybody, but the majority of teams out there, like the one level and, um, you know, th they’re not experimenting at all. So organizing the experiments, isn’t really an issue.
Artem Petakov 00:45:23 Right, right, right, right. No, I, I, and I different and different teams have different needs. I have no idea what the answer is for productizing that, um, but I just think it’s really important. What, no matter what to keep investing in it, to have, uh, a lot of resources dedicated to what we call improving, like for us, it’s improving the new machine and call it every time. That’s the new machine, that’s the new lab. Um, that’s kinda turning these things out. What are the success metrics that make up, make that up? What are you focused on from a metric standpoint? Look, I mean, ultimately for us, it’s, uh, the longterm, um, horizon is, um, you know, this boring health metric called qualities, quality adjusted life years. So how many years of life can you save for somebody, uh, for, you know, for a population. Um, and that’s really want to just maximize that, uh, pretty Noomrical about that.
Artem Petakov 00:46:19 And that’s what we use to kind of choose which conditions to do or choose which areas to go into. Um, you know, and we’re going into a number of different areas, even beyond I mentioned weight management as the gateway, uh, where we’re going in a few different areas, um, testing that, um, so that’s at the highest sort of it. And then we need to have proxy metrics that come up with that. And, uh, those revolve around sort of engagement and outcomes. Our favorite one is, um, the, or what we call the OMTM the one metric that matters is the number of engaged in paid weeks. So, you know, can somebody be meaningfully engaged? And we have a lot of actions that we’ve defined as meaningful engagement, like doing significant exercise or logging a substantial number of meals. That’s a meaningfully engaged week. And we think about how many, how many people are we helping on that weekly basis? Because we know that we’ve got, we’ve got published papers that say that that’s heavily correlated with, uh, those quality outcomes down the line. Um, so yeah,
Speaker 3 00:47:24 A meaningful metric though, that somebody could even, you know, new people that come in and start weight, you’re going to
Sean Ellis 00:47:30 Improve those qualities. Every, everybody who, who, uh, existing continues to lose weight. So instead of just quantifying it in pounds, which seems like, Oh, that would be a good metric to be focused on. It’s the, it’s again, the why behind the why of, of why are you using those pounds so you can get more quality years.
Artem Petakov 00:47:48 Yes, that’s right. Thanks. Yeah, that’s exactly right.
Sean Ellis 00:47:51 That’s, that’s a really, I, I, that I think people should put that much thought into North star metrics and, and just really try to get to the part where you were, where you can get really passionate about moving that metric. So one of the, one of the themes that I keep hearing coming up with you as this, this concept of learning and, and, you know, the machine that helps drive the learning so that you can be more effective. Um, when you think about, obviously, as you guys have, have grown in the, in the numbers you’re talking about, you’re doing now are so big that there’s, there’s a lot of execution that needs to be done on things you’ve already learned. How do you balance between like really good execution of what you’ve already learned and then continuing to push the envelope so that you can keep learning more like organizationally, maybe. How does that look in terms of balancing that?
Artem Petakov 00:48:40 Yeah. Look and I think, um, I’ll be, uh, I think it’s really important to be honest, we’re still figuring that out. I think that’s why people who would join Noom now would be part of figuring out that process. I don’t think we’ve figured out sort of a scalable operating system, you know, Amazon scale to how to do that. Um, I think a lot right now, hinges on, um, on making sure that we, you know, I, I do believe in sort of roughly in the 70, 2010 model, right? The 70% on, on, um, on, on some proven stuff, 20% on, um, on slightly exploratory and 10% on sort of moonshot, um, stuff that I think that although implementing that that’s easy to stay very hard to implement. Um, and it doesn’t mean 70% is boring. It just means 70% is bets that are more, more sure.
Artem Petakov 00:49:35 Um, so yeah, I mean, look, I think, uh, it’s about, of course you, wouldn’t be surprised to hear it’s about sort of small pods of people operating autonomously. I think how many tools we give to, um, to the pods. I think that’s quite different, really setting up a good platform, uh, around those things, to even even boring, even somewhat more mundane things like really, really fast deploys. It makes a difference, um, for then somehow it really all adds up to make the build measure, learn cycle faster for each one of those teams. Um, so yeah, it’s really that optimizing for fast learning. It is teaching everybody, I think, way too many, you know, and I complimented sort of Netflix before. I will also kind of disagree with them a little where for a lot of their stuff is people over-processed. And I think, uh, having lightweight, effective mechanisms in place really helps people. It really liberates them to be able to operate. So instead of having to somehow for, for engineers, they accept, you know, the ones that I talked to about this they’re like, Oh, process really, I don’t really love process. And I was like, well, do you like coding style guides? Well, yeah, I love that. Um, and you love code reviews.
Artem Petakov 00:50:59 Um, and I think there is, I think, uh, taking a little bit of an engineering mindset to R to engineering these processes has been, I would say the key there. Um, I don’t think we figured out how to necessarily scale that these teams are still relatively small. I mean, Noom overall is, um, you know, um, on the, on the core build on the, on the people who are in the headquarters, um, not the coaches, there are 200 people and so we’re still very small and impact per person. That’s tremendous. Um, but I don’t think we’ve figured out, you know, I think you should ask that question. I think ask me in a, in a couple of years when we’ve, um, when we’ve grown by four, eight X, um, and then we will, I think I’ll be able to answer more concretely. How else, what are other mechanisms stupid in place?
Artem Petakov 00:51:56 I think one of the things that’s really worked is a lot of newsletters. So, uh, writing scales better in general than meetings. So I think, and I think a lot of companies have reached that, but I think we’ve taken it to a bigger, extreme, um, so newsletters and dashboards, uh, for everybody keeps, keeps people better coordinated than any, any meetings could because you can just review so many things, um, offline so much faster. And I think we, there we’ve been breasts that we’ve embraced that and, uh, you know, we have also embraced those meetings. Um, and I know we did not, you know what, um, I think, I don’t know who labeled it the Amazon way. I think it was Mary Meeker. Um, initially of doing the 10 minute reading before a meeting starts, uh, before jumping into Q and a versus doing a presentation. Yeah. We do that. And we, and cost the number of PowerPoints to, um, or Google, uh, Google presentations to a bare minimum, um, to do that. So I think all of those, um, I think those are the things we found so far, but always looking and looking for more people who want to innovate that with us.
Ethan Garr 00:53:08 So with, with your fast growth, I mean, even 200 people is still a fair amount of people to, to keep moving in the right direction. Have you found yourself challenged to keep those pods from becoming silos and like, are you, are these, you know, the things that you’re doing with newsletters is that intentionally driven
Artem Petakov 00:53:26 Towards breaking down silos? Yeah, that’s right. I think we have seen that and I think it has to do with, um, you know, how do you organize whether you’re organized into kind of business units or, um, or, or, or departmental levels? I think we found that to be, uh, for sure challenging. And so it’s, I think Spotify has done the most work on that sort of the guilds and the various teams and, and really having, figuring out how to build that matrix. So yeah, we’re finding that definitely, uh, challenging. I think we’re doing better than most, still at the scale, just because we’re constantly looking for how to improve that. Um, and people are finding, um, always finding solutions we’re really big on the five whys and sort of continuous improvement processes. Um, that’s, that’s, that’s been helping a lot every time doing retrospectives. We also do, uh, on a lot of teams.
Artem Petakov 00:54:27 We do live three sixties, sort of the, I don’t know if you’ve right. That’s the Netflix, um, way of doing retrospectives with everybody there and being super transparent and nice to each other in those things. So I think those are some of the things that are working. Yeah. But it certainly gets tougher. And I think it’s funny silos are silos sounds bad. Autonomy sounds good, right? Yes. How do you, and we’re really big fans of autonomy of empowering the people to do those things. So how do you, how do you do both? How do you set up the, how do you set up this infrastructure to make independent things that can move autonomously? And I think by the way, one of the other things is embracing, um, of course embracing some chaos, embracing some duplication of effort. A lot of times I know at, uh, at, uh, I, I liked a lot of things Google did, but a lot of the times at Google, it was, um, um, to, you know, do things right. The first time you can’t do things right. The first time when, when you’re flying so fast and letting everybody be autonomous, you can just, eventually I like to actually use the words eventually consistent. We’ll get things eventually good and eventually, um, right. But that’s better than just, you know, pausing every time.
Sean Ellis 00:55:42 Yeah. I, I personally think one of the risks of the, uh, of silos is that you, you end up having a very disjointed customer experience that you’ve got kind of a, a marketing group, that’s taking people in and then, and then they’re handing off to a product group. And, um, but there’s really only one customer journey or, you know, for each customer, there’s only one journey. There may be different journeys that, that customers can go through. And so being able to think holistically around those as one of the challenges, I think when you, when you kind of organize, uh, along traditional silos, um, so we’re, we’re getting really short on time. This is all good. I could, I could keep asking a lot of questions, but it would be great. Maybe you could, if you could walk us kind of the process of someone discovering a new room, like how do they typically discover it? Is it through a referral? Do they see an ad as a combination? And then what’s that path that ultimately gets them to the point where they’re like, Oh my God, Noom is amazing. And they start telling all their friends about it that, uh, that could benefit from it. So what, what does that path look like?
Artem Petakov 00:56:46 Yeah, and I don’t think, honestly, I don’t think I’m going to say something so crazy innovative there. Uh, for us, we, we have, uh, one of the things we’ve, uh, we do have, we, we use, um, all the different paid channels that are available. We do think because it’s behavior change, it’s not necessarily naturally, um, in the water. It’s not like the viral immediately viral thing or something like that. You do need to believe, you do need to believe in it in order to do it. Um, and so paid marketing continues to be important and we’ve invested a lot in making sure that that engine is as efficient and built our own attribution system that we’re constantly evolving. So that’s that, and of course there’s more and more over time, we’ve been trending more and more organic traffic. Um, and some of that is through word of mouth.
Artem Petakov 00:57:36 Some of that is through kind of organic mentions. There’s a lot of these Facebook groups, um, uh, Newman, Facebook groups. So there’s a lot of, uh, kind of indirect referral. And there’s a lot of also people who are just pretty vocal about their journeys and of those super, not paid influencers, but just sort of people who have a lot of success. And they usually are. It’s not your typical, I would say viral model where it’s one, one person. Tell us just a couple of folks. It’s usually a few, um, yeah, really don’t wanna use the word super spreader. Um, right. Uh, but really a few people who are telling a lot of folks about it, uh, spreading the message and those are, you know, a one in one in 50 or one in a hundred, but they’re very vocal. So we acquire people that way.
Artem Petakov 00:58:22 And then, yeah, if they’re going through the web, um, the web funnel, I think a lot of the, we already talked about that. Um, the, we see, uh, we see a lot of the aha moment on, uh, on, even on even going through that, uh, funnel. Um, and then we’ve spent with, for the most effort and continue to put the most effort into the retention and engagement and outcomes. So how the positive reinforcement, I would say, that’s the number one tool around retention and engagement. How do you align it’s ultimately every battle of willpower is ultimately a battle between the short-term incentive and the long-term, uh, that’s known in the literature as complex ambivalence where you’re trying to decide between a short term specific reward. So it’s like, um, sobriety, which is a very vague concept removed into the future. And remember, people are hyperbolic discounters versus here in front of you and that complex ambivalence.
Artem Petakov 00:59:30 Um, there’s a great book by the way, called the science of self control that I recommend to everybody. It’s not, it’s not very famous, but, um, I think, um, a lot of great psychology in there, um, you know, that complex ambivalence is really hard to battle against them. The way to deal with it is to create rewards that are more in the moment. And those are coming from empathy, from the coach relationship for positive reinforcement, from even things like content and learning. And so bringing rewards forward that are normally very delayed by weeks and months is really what it takes. And of course the devil is in the details and we’re just getting, you know, as I mentioned, 20% done. So we need more people working on more of those surfaces for food, for exercise, for social, um, hiring cross, all of those things to really have, because each one of those right now is like a, either a person or half a person or no person working on those things.
Artem Petakov 01:00:26 It’s. Um, but it’s still the biggest, it’s the biggest area for investment for us, um, is that retention engagement. And I think the referrals for us, we haven’t honestly done a lot, um, to kind of jazz them up or anything because they’re just so far, they’re just function of those people who are the quote unquote super spreaders for us are just a function of getting the results. So we don’t really, maybe it’s a missing opportunity. We haven’t figured out how to necessarily empower them more. Um, but so far it’s just been mostly on the retention and engagement side kind of core product quality, what we call where we spend most of our,
Sean Ellis 01:01:03 Yeah. I mean, for what it’s worth that what triggered me to come and actually want to download and get started with the app was an article that Marc Seuster partner wrote and, uh, see he lost 65 pounds and he, you know, he didn’t, it was not a pitch for Noom. It was like, here’s all the things that I did, but Noom was a really important part of it. And, and then as I read more about it, the sort of, um, quantify, you know, analysis and you’re, you’re quantifying data. And I was like, Oh, that’s, that’s how I like to do things. So, you know, for me, it was exciting to like go in and actually give it a shot rather than just gotta think about it.
Artem Petakov 01:01:44 Yeah. I talked to Martha as a followup to that and, uh, I was a long-term fan and it was really cool to talk to him and he had a lot of great suggestions for how to, how to improve that. So it’s, we’re super early, still in the, in the game, this product, it’s a product that some products are very easy to build MVPs and very hard to scale. Right. You’ve Uber, you know, some person I was reading, some contractor built it, right. The very first MVP, uh, not even full-time employee at Uber. Uh, but for us building that, I think we’re still working on the, on all the different, all the different surfaces even have a complete product right now. If somebody gets pregnant, we have to kick them out of the app because we haven’t built a pregnancy mode and it’s just, you know, and right now there is not really, um, you know, a great dedicated maintenance mode built. We’re building all of that, building all of that right now. And, and, um, you know, just so many different opportunities to keep improving on it that I appreciate your praise and feel like, Oh yeah, it makes me want to go even faster, but we’re definitely running out of time here. So I want to ask you just one last question. What do you feel like you understand about growth now that you didn’t understand? Maybe a couple of years ago? It’s a question we ask all of our guests.
Artem Petakov 01:03:01 Yeah. I think the number one is really, and I think I am, Sean mentioned it to me, but I didn’t still feel it, the importance of process and setting, setting up the ecosystem for doing it, the ecosystem for harnessing creativity. Right. Because of course, people won’t tell you what to do. You need to be creative and those ideas, but if you don’t have, I think that’s what people are most surprised for by when they’re coming in. It’s that ecosystem that we’ve kind of created. It’s like, okay, I can just jump in here and have a hypothesis. Yeah, that’s right. And you can get it, um, live pretty quick. I don’t think I, I still felt it as deeply and the importance of, um, kind of teaching people that stuff. I think there’s still even the grade PM’s and the, um, don’t know everything there is to know about it. And so whenever we have learnings like that, codifying them about the machine for the next, for the next group. I don’t think I understood that. Um, I think that’s an old concept known as the learning organization, but, um, doing that for growth and product management is not really that invoke yet. Um, because we’re still in the early innings of, of growth and product management. So I don’t think I, um, I quite knew that, uh, or knew that we would be investing so much in it before.
Sean Ellis 01:04:22 That’s great. I mean, it’s definitely something that I think, um, helps to make the whole process scale so that you can keep hitting big numbers. If you, you know, you can, you can try a few things and get lucky when a company is pretty small, but you can’t keep growing at a, at a good clip unless you really have a good process in place. And so as, as I go through, got to everything that we’ve covered in the hour here, my key takeaways were really around that, that process that you’ve dialed in and how much emphasis that you put on it. I love the fact that you say you’re like 20% done that there’s, there’s so much more that you could do to improve things. Cause you can’t, you can’t improve unless, you know, you need to improve. So I think that’s like a really good mindset there, but, um, you know, and then the big challenge that I see with what you’re doing is, you know, I think almost every app or product that’s out there has a massive challenge of creating a, um, some kind of regular usage habit around that product.
Sean Ellis 01:05:24 And that’s a hard thing to do. I think near y’all’s booked hooked gives, gets a pretty good framework for that, but that, um, you essentially have two things, you have a product, an app, and then you have the habit of eating well and, and the delayed gratification on everything that you’ve talked about. So you have this intersection of two really hard things to achieve, but based on the results, it looks like you’re, you’re making amazing progress on that. I wouldn’t say you’ve, you’ve hit the finish line cause I would mean you’re not continuing to improve, but, um, um, I’m just really impressed with, with everything that you’re doing and how you’re approaching it. And I know that the, that the, uh, that it’s going to keep going just based on how you’re approaching it, that you’re going to keep coming up with new and better ways to make an impact on people in a really important way. Thank you so much.
Artem Petakov 01:06:21 I would just add to that. It’s really neat that you you’ve emphasized that, getting it right. Is about building the machine that gets it right. And part of that, uh, is being nice to each other. Uh, it sounds like the work environment you created is really about authenticity, authenticity, and advocacy, and that extends not just to your customers, but to your employees. And it seems like that’s really been the recipe for success. So really good learnings for us. Thank you. Yeah. If anybody and sorry for the obvious self-promotion, but in terms of, if, if all of this sounds interesting, like, uh, you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to, I’d rather take the email avalanche than miss great people. So,
Sean Ellis 01:07:04 Um, are you, are you mostly looking for people in the New York area or, or
Artem Petakov 01:07:08 No, we’re, we’re really embracing remote, um, full hug. So we’re saying, yeah, we’re going to be remote, um, remote first. And so, you know, as long as you can have a sort of a six hour overlap with New York, so, um, you know, definitely from all over the U S is okay, and we have a lot of people in Europe. So, um, you know, to have a, depending on how crazy you want to get with your time zones, um, you know, with your sleep, you can think of that as, uh, as a bit of the limiting factor, but, uh, really open to everywhere around because yeah, this talent is, is rare to have the, the growth and the product minds working on this stuff. And we, we need a lot of help.
Sean Ellis 01:07:51 Wow. Well, um, this has been such a fun conversation and, uh, I, as I often say, but definitely in this case, I, I feel like I could keep asking questions for the next 20 years still the answers, but we’ll let you get back to the hard work of, of executing on what you’re doing. And, uh, but thank you so much for taking a step back for an hour to help us understand how you’re achieving what you’re achieving at noon. Yeah. Thank you. Thanks to everybody listening. Thank you for tuning in.
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