In this week’s episode of The Breakout Growth Podcast Sean Ellis and Ethan Garr chat with Victoria Repa who is the founder and CEO of BetterMe, a Ukraine-based developer of health and wellness mobile apps. We have held off on publishing the podcast for a few weeks as the world has been focused on the tragic situation in Ukraine. We did not want to do anything to shift the focus but decided to share this episode now in the hopes that it could help Victoria amplify her messages to the growth community asking for help and support in Ukraine. Victoria shared these links with us and, if you are in a position to help, we hope you will consider doing so: https://how-you-can-support-ukraine.super.site/ and https://bit.ly/3IDf3tw
Our hearts go out to Victoria, her 230-person BetterMe team, and all of those impacted by this war.
BetterMe Health Coaching and BetterMe Mental Health are mobile apps created to make health and wellness more accessible. Victoria’s philosophy centers around helping people develop healthy habits that over time transform into an overall healthy lifestyle. In just over four years, the apps have grown to a combined total of more than 100 million users around the world.
Driving BetterMe’s growth trajectory is an intense focus on experimentation and learning that is guided by a “fail fast and fail cheap mantra.” This approach allows Victoria’s team to continuously improve its understanding of users, their behaviors, and the problems they look to BetterMe to help them solve.
Learning and evolving is critical in growth, and the BetterMe journey demonstrates how fast-growing companies use data to continuously optimize their offerings. At one point BetterMe had seven apps in its portfolio before eventually consolidating down to a single offering. Then, as B2B opportunities came into focus, Victoria’s team iterated again to add a second mobile app to address changing market needs.
We hope this pre-war story will help shine a light on the contributions and achievements of Ukrainians. Please consider visiting the links shared above to find out how you can help. In addition, here are a few other organizations working to make a difference in Ukraine:
* Making healthy lifestyles accessible to everyone (5:50)
* Victoria’s inspiration and journey to BetterMe (10:19)
* The Silicon Valey growth approach powering the business (12:16)
* Powering growth through data (28:33)
* Using technology tools to build customer habits (32:32)
And much, much, more . . .
Introduction 00:00:08 Welcome to the breakout growth podcast, where Sean Ellis and Ethan Gar interview leaders from the world’s fastest-growing companies to get to the heart of what’s really driving their growth. And now here are your hosts, Sean Ellis and Ethan Gar.
Sean Ellis 00:00:26 All right, in this week’s episode of the breakout growth podcast, Ethan Gar and I chat with Victoria Repa, the founder, and CEO of Ukraine-based BetterMe, a suite of mobile apps that offer coaching and tools for mental and physical health and wellness. So you might’ve noticed that we haven’t published an episode for the last couple of weeks, and actually we even debated quite a bit, whether we would do one or not this week right now, the world is focused on Ukraine and we don’t want to do anything to take that focus off. But as I mentioned, Victoria and the BetterMe team are Ukrainian. And if this can help amplify her calls for needed help, then we thought it would be appropriate. So as much as we hope you will find value in the growth insights, Victoria shares. The reason why we wanted to post this episode now actually has less to do with growth and more with the fact that Victoria and the vast majority of BetterMe’s 230 person team are based in Ukraine.
Sean Ellis 00:01:22 There has been a vibrant startup scene in Ukraine. That includes huge successes like Grammarly. In fact, much of my team in the early days of growth, hacker growth hackers was also in Ukraine. So, you know, we hear all these numbers and Ukraine, these terrible numbers of deaths and refugees, and that’s awful, but we thought it was important to hear from one person to really learn that the pre-war story of some of those affected their lives are in danger, along with millions of others. And we just wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts and to ask you to consider helping those in need. If you can,
Ethan Garr 00:02:00 When we recorded this episode, if you believe that Russia would invade Ukraine. So it was easy to focus on growth learnings, that’s the stuff we love. We’re excited to share Victoria’s insights about her team’s approach to learning from customers and building apps that she said really feel like they’re your friends that are me is actually a mass more than a hundred million downloads worldwide. And they genuinely, aren’t an amazing breakout growth success story, but everything came into such sharp, sharp focus when we saw Victoria desperately posting calls for help on LinkedIn. And when she shared a similar play with us in a private email and growth, we’re almost always focused on empathy. We talk about it in almost every episode. So we did want to take a moment here because if there ever was a time for all of us in the growth universe to channel our empathy for something positive, this is that time.
Sean Ellis 00:02:43 Yeah. And for sure, you know, my wife she’s Russian, but she strongly opposes the war. She has friends and family in both Ukraine and Russia and has been very active with humanitarian relief. I work with a lot of Russians that strongly oppose the war. It’s a, it’s a situation all around. I’m seeing a lot of stress and anxiety, uh, that this life and death situation has presented and I’m seeing it firsthand.
Ethan Garr 00:03:10 Yeah. And just last week when I was at my dentist, I was seeing firsthand how difficult this situation is for real people too. My dentist actually immigrated from Ukraine and his family is still there. I watched him just struggling to keep it together. As he worked on my teeth, while relatives were sending him updates about a missing family member.
Sean Ellis 00:03:28 Yeah. I’m in a situation and Ukraine is obviously having massively disruptive forces on business, but that pales in comparison to the disruption in people’s lives.
Ethan Garr 00:03:38 So this isn’t just a public service announcement as always, we do hope that you’ll find value as you listened to this conversation, but we do also hope that you’ll take a moment to reflect on the achievements and contributions of Ukrainians.
Sean Ellis 00:03:49 Yeah. And we sincerely hope that Victoria and her team are okay and our hearts are with all those endanger. So in the show notes, we’re going to include some of the things that Victoria has shared, um, that, that she mentioned would be important for providing support. So please check out the show notes and try to try to provide some help if you can just, well, mostly though, we just want to thank you for listening.
Ethan Garr 00:04:12 Thanks very much.
Sean Ellis 00:04:22 Hi, Victoria. Welcome to the breakout growth podcast. Hi Sean. That’s uh, it’s great to have you on, and I’m also joined by my cohost Ethan. Hey Ethan.
Ethan Garr 00:04:31 Hey Sean. Hey Victoria. Nice to meet you.
Sean Ellis 00:04:36 So, um, so Victoria, um, for those who might be unfamiliar with BetterMe, can you tell us a bit about what it is and how you generally describe the business?
Victoria Repa 00:04:47 Okay. BetterMe is that they didn’t behavioral house gal company, our product have more than 100 million users all over the world and we stand for a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. And that is why there are two main apps in our collection, BetterMe, health coaching. And, but their me mental health apps have been on the most downloaded health and fitness apps since 2018. And we teach people to let go on, say on a realistic expectation and instead focus on long-term success. You can get there with restrictive that’s exhausting workouts or disregarding your mental health. Then wonder way to keep the results. Permanent is focusing on your body’s needs and your mindset BetterMe is a platform that will help you cultivate new, healthy habits, which eventually will transform into a healthy lifestyle.
Sean Ellis 00:05:50 Wow, that’s a, that’s a mouthful. It’s, uh, a lot of detail there. So, um, why don’t we start with, with even just who the, who the typical customer is, and, and maybe the problem that they have when they’re, when they’re seeking BetterMe,
Victoria Repa 00:06:06 Uh, we designed, but there me, for those as the beginning of their health and fitness journey, no matters, a gender age, nationality, color skin, or physical abilities bedroom is creating products that serve everyone. We want to make a house, a lifestyle as accessible and inclusive as possible. We can personalize our content for different groups of people, for examples, a BetterMe house culture in depth, in close workouts for middle age seniors, people using wheelchairs and families with children.
Sean Ellis 00:06:42 Well, and the, um, and then on the mental health, you mentioned you have mental health as well as kind of physical health, um, is, uh, w sort of what, w what do the services look like, or the app experience look like for mental health,
Victoria Repa 00:06:59 Uh, for mental health, we talk about solving real problem of the people. It’s like a simulation of psychotherapy, uh, to resolve special problem. For example, one of the top or key problem is like, I miss my ex is like, uh, sleep disorders. It’s like emotional burnout and et cetera.
Sean Ellis 00:07:23 And so they have these problems and then, and then they maybe could go to, uh, to a therapist, um, or, or they could try to self-help. And, and I’m assuming that, that you’re, you’re really more in if they want to self-help, uh, that they, that they would go that path. Is that right?
Victoria Repa 00:07:42 Yeah, it’s the right, because we believe that we can make psychotherapy and more accessible across the volt, because it can pay only $10 and we can attract to create a program, one of the best psychologists in the United States.
Sean Ellis 00:08:03 Oh, that’s a, that’s amazing. I think, especially during the COVID pandemic, uh, people are under so much stress these days, um, to, to be able to have that affordable, accessible help is, is really powerful. So, um, so that’s great, but Ethan, I should bring you in here before I go on a, on a deep dive in with all of my questions. Uh, I’m good. Go ahead. I’m sure you’ve got something as well.
Ethan Garr 00:08:27 I actually, I’ve, I’ve been playing, I’ve been using the BetterMe app, the health health app, but I haven’t played with the mental health app. And I was curious, is that when just getting a little more to Sean’s question. So when you say psychotherapy, is that, are there actually psychotherapy services available through the app, or is it more of, um, uh, is it kind of like more like, um, health and wellness, sort of, um, mental health and wellness sort of more like a calm or, um, uh, one of the apps in that space,
Victoria Repa 00:08:55 Um, we started maybe our positioning from calm and meditation and Zen after we have a lot of question like those, the therapy, we understood that anxiety depression is and, uh, sleep. It’s like a consequence, not as a cause, but causes really problem of the people. I have anxiety when I at home with my three children on et cetera, et cetera, how to resolve this. And we understood that we need to provide service, how to resolve a real question of the people. And after that, we just made like a pilot to the more psychotherapy. Uh, for example, if we talk about like, um, when you need to recover from breakup and the relationship across the fall, it’s like a problem. Uh, you just, uh, start your journey in the simulation, uh, like, uh, chat with psychotherapy, um, therapist and Zen, if you want more, not like simulation, you can, uh, goal direct was our coach and maybe have a one-on-one call on et cetera, but start from the easy therapy in simulation.
Ethan Garr 00:10:19 Understood. Um, so can you take us a little bit back to the sort of your journey and the beginning of the journey that is BetterMe? Tell us a little bit about, I mean, a hundred million users is incredible. Tell us how you got there and where it all started.
Victoria Repa 00:10:33 Okay. Uh, born into a family where every male struggled with their weight, I was always told that, wait, was it family problem? And there was nothing I could do about it. Even as ID nine, use it, uh, finding an effective solution to this challenge would not only make me happy, but also help others who struggled with the similar issues. Uh, that’s how I started to learn all I could about my mind and body and experimented with a variety of that and exercise routines throughout my university years. And my first job, I found myself soon tormented by their feelings that my dreams were all left unrealized. So at 24, I left my job to pursue my childhood dream. My idea was to build their app that would make voting wait fun and easy.
Ethan Garr 00:11:29 Wow. So is what we see today in the app very much the vision you had or has, has it changed a lot from the beginning to now?
Victoria Repa 00:11:36 Of course it changed a lot from the beginning to the out, because when you start a business, you have like a unrealistic approach, uh, of the reality when you’re around 100 million installs have a lot of testing on fail fast and cheap mantras, you totally sink deeper and to understand better your idea, your audience and what’s the market and people needs and how to resolve their problem in the fastest and best way.
Sean Ellis 00:12:16 Yeah. You, uh, you definitely have the Silicon valley mentality as you talk about the need for agility and the fail fast. And, um, I’m, I’m wondering how much of that came out of, I saw the, your experience with the, uh, the Stanford executive program and the apple entrepreneur camp. Um, has that been pretty instrumental and in your thinking around how to approach a startup, or do you feel like it comes more naturally to you or, um, a lot of resources in Ukraine that you also have, like maybe, maybe give us a little insight in how you’ve learned to approach, uh, the startup world.
Victoria Repa 00:12:58 Um, maybe, uh, for my, uh, uh, for me it’s like a long from everything can learn from everyone. I used a mix from a good education, good mentors, of course it’s Stanford. And second, the best teachers is our users of course.
Sean Ellis 00:13:19 Right, right. I love that. And do you, um, do you, is there a pretty good, um, founder and startup community where, where you live, where you can, um, learn from, from people around you? Or is it, or do you find that the, uh, like I’m saying the physical community versus, uh, do you find it, it kind of more valuable in, um, obviously the customer side that I think that’s great, but also, uh, the on actually how to approach the test learn, and, and there’s so much great public learning around startups now. Um, so comparing to like finding, finding resources more online, or, or do you, do you get more from just other entrepreneurs in your local area?
Victoria Repa 00:14:08 Um, maybe 90% is my online education and you get to your knowledge, of course, the Silicon valley insights and founders is number one, and you don’t need to reinvent something new, but of course, 10% it’s from, uh, Ukraine key founders. We have a big community, um, because from like, uh, for example, that’s Q and as a big founders who are, uh, built a really successful business, uh, in the United States.
Sean Ellis 00:14:44 Yeah. I think we were talking before the call that I, uh, helped to start two companies in hungry in Eastern Europe. And, uh, it was, it was kind of before a lot of the, um, learning moved online. So I think in some, some ways that there was an advantage for us, um, to kind of invent as we, as we did things. So we, we maybe got a little bit outside of the, uh, the Silicon valley, uh, echo chamber. We call it where everybody says the same things. Um, but even to tell you the truth, even I was in Boston for many years and New York. And, um, and there really wasn’t at the time I was in those places, a great startup community, uh, helping each other. And it was really refreshing when I, when I moved to Silicon valley and just people, people are very open and helping, but it’s, it has been great that that’s moved online and in recent years and has really become accessible, I think, to the whole world. Um, it’s, it’s, it’s fun to watch the evolution. Yeah, not really a question there, but more, um, yeah, just the observation from, from my shared experience of, of starting companies in, uh, outside the United States where our primary customer base was in the United States.
Ethan Garr 00:16:08 I’ll, I’ll throw, I’ll throw out a question. Um, so Victoria, um, w you mentioned how important it’s been to learn from customers. And I know from my own experience in the, in the world of apps, um, we all really aspire to really deeply engage with our customers, but with apps, it can actually be a little challenging. I’m curious for you, how have you led the team, your teams to really engage with customers and what tools and systems have you used so that you can actually really learn from your customers? Is it just diving into the data, or is it about talking to the customers?
Victoria Repa 00:16:43 So is that a different, uh, approaches? Uh, first of course, it’s a really big analytics team for us. We just measure everything and understood what really works for us. But for the first time we have a lot of, um, uh, we used a service like this flight, and, uh, before we launch a new feature, we just test, uh, on, uh, real people in United States, how they interact with you, interface, what they saw, what they feel, because for today, we are focused mostly on, um, educational. First, when you go to interrupt, you educate what is weight loss, and et cetera. And, uh, for us, it’s really great feedbacks that we get from our customer from first insight, maybe after 40 duration that a Wednesday interact with our app, they feel that it’s like a friend in terms of text, in terms of now it’s like your friends and you’re in cafe and say, would like to help you resolve the problem with excess weight.
Ethan Garr 00:18:04 Is there some specific place where you had that aha moment where you learned that from your customers? Is there something where you,
Victoria Repa 00:18:12 Uh, we focus previously a lot of work with, um, a psychologist, what is the base way and how people feel yourself once they start successfully lose weight? So for us, that one feeling, feeling of our users, feeling of our customer, no pressure, no where your friend, we don’t have a requirements with not say that you are lazy and et cetera, et cetera, we are here to help. And there are different approaches that help please just try.
Sean Ellis 00:18:55 Is it, is it more, um, exercises that they go through or are they connecting with an actual therapist or what, what’s the actual experience like for the,
Victoria Repa 00:19:05 Uh, if, uh, speak about, uh, our health coaching? Uh, first of all, we are started from educational program is simulation, of course, like a therapist. Um, and, uh, we need to explain what does that yo yo dieting because when people install, but the re maybe as a used previously for 20 times to lose weight, it’s on average, uh, okay. Approach. So we just need to explain what is a diet and, and try to change, filter off reality to sink. What is the emotional trigger when you are craving, when you have been cheating, what is the key emotional trigger? Because in reality, we believe in concept of primary and secondary foods, secondary to what’s on our plate. Um, and it’s not the key reason of excess weight, because key reason is the primary food and it’s our career. It’s our relationship, it’s our spirituality. And first of all, you need to find out the reason here and we help to maybe not only, um, resolves a problem of excess weight, but, but find the problem in Korea, in relationship and for the most of people today, food it’s resolves a problem, but it’s not resolved. And this it’s a problem.
Sean Ellis 00:20:45 Did you start with, with M it sounds like you started with the weight from what you were talking about, you started with the weight management, um, and then the mental health part was that, that was later in the business came in.
Victoria Repa 00:20:59 Yeah. We are taught that they believe in approach to change the body, start with the mind.
Sean Ellis 00:21:04 Yeah. And that’s what, that’s, what gets me thinking is that, um, it’s, they’re so connected, obviously weight and, and, uh, as you said, kind of the emotional eating, the, the emotional triggers that, um, that it’s hard to do it without, without, uh, without dealing with the psychology side of things. And, and, uh, you know, it’s not just stop eating so much when you’re hungry. It’s, it’s what is driving you to eat that much. So it’s, it’s a, it makes sense that you would, that you would be in both the kind of physical health management side and, and mental health management side. Um,
Ethan Garr 00:21:43 Ethan, I was curious with that if, if it was a, when you decided to add the mental health app, if you thought, was that a tough decision in terms of making it a separate app versus trying to include it in the existing app? Or was it clear that you wanted to make it a separate app?
Victoria Repa 00:22:00 Oh, we have started our businesses from seven different apps now shrinks because, um, one year ago we have a lot of requests from B2B market and for B2B, it’s really important to us to fall, not physical health, but mental health. And we tried to make a super app and that risk in one app, but for us, it’s really hard to connect everything. So now we believe, and maybe physical and mental health and have two different apps with two different approaches.
Sean Ellis 00:22:44 Yeah. So that, that sounds like, uh, maybe one of the, the big challenges that you faced in the business was kind of thinking about, you know, do we, do we do this all in one app? Did we do it in seven apps? And now you’ve, you’ve come to doing it in two apps. Um, would you say that’s been probably one of the biggest challenges in the business, or is there something else that comes to mind that’s maybe an even bigger challenge?
Victoria Repa 00:23:10 Um, I hope it’s the biggest challenges, um, solve problem of our users in the most fastest way, how we can optimize our user journey and help them to achieve results. And of course it’s different. It’s three in five, uh, it’s only one up. Um, and it’s, it’s hard when you have a lot of content from the session and people just have a lot of cognitive pressure go out. So for us, it’s easy to provide, uh, maybe from education, from a small interface piece and et cetera, because after user tests and show every single functionality, it’s really hard for people because they don’t understand from what,
Sean Ellis 00:24:07 So, yeah, in a sense that, you know, when you say the biggest challenge solve the user problems, um, that, that actually starts to sound like that the challenge of product market fit, um, where, uh, you know, that if I think what eludes most startups that, that don’t succeed is, is coming up with the right solution. And maybe sometimes that’s not being able to really understand the customer problem and solve the customer problems. So, um, at what point did you, did you feel like you had product market fit? Do you feel like you have it now, or is it a daily thing to, to keep trying to get better product market fit? Or was there, was there something where it’s like now we, now we really, we have the right solution out there and can start trying to just still improve it, but we kind of that magic moment.
Victoria Repa 00:25:06 Uh, we don’t have much at non-pro today. If I talk about weight loss market, there are a lot of big company in way close, but when 80% of United States citizens have access, wait, is there no best company? So for me, it’s really challenged how to help people recalled. They might in the most fastest way,
Sean Ellis 00:25:37 But you, so you have a hundred million downloads of the app, I believe is what you said. Um, you have to have something right in the solution to get there. Um, did you, did you have a time in the business where it was growing slowly and then suddenly it started to grow very quickly? Or is it just every day, a little bit better and a little bit kind of steeper in that growth?
Victoria Repa 00:26:03 Yeah, it’s, uh, we believe in this approach, uh, or small steps, not only in recommendation our user parts, of course, in our corporate challenges, because it really all gradually they by day and Savitar me business started for me and now it’s a 200 people, so we grow gradually and hope this guy is not it.
Sean Ellis 00:26:32 So, so you bet you’re familiar with the concept of product market fit. Right. Are you familiar with the term, do you, do you think it’s real, do you believe in, in that, uh, products that don’t have product market fit usually fail and that, and that it’s, it’s a big challenge for startups to get to product market fit? Or is it more like what you said where it goes from a little bit, right on the solution to better, to better, to better that, that gradual approach? Because I, I think that conventional thinking is that is that you don’t have it. And then one day you have it, but it doesn’t sound like that’s been your experience.
Victoria Repa 00:27:15 Of course, it’s a mixture of an idea and, um, relevant, maybe measurable goals, a team and sought for management. Um, when we find ourselves in any unusual situation, I give her a John and deserve scaling quote. I really love it’s called prioritizing speed over efficiency in the face of uncertainty. Uh, it’s feels like a great mantra. It’s certainly helped me to get through today with the pro process to show for it. And, um, when we go to the health and fitness, um, fitness market is full of different products for weight loss. Uh, but, uh, BetterMe is unique because of the team and our vision of a healthy lifestyle. And I don’t, maybe from my journey for five years, I don’t believe that you can find product markets, uh, feet for one night. It’s impossible in our industry, especially.
Sean Ellis 00:28:25 Yeah. It’s just such a big challenge that it’s, you, you have to keep trying to get a little bit better every day. It sounds like
Ethan Garr 00:28:33 You mentioned that you’re, that the team is very analytical and you’ve really used data to help drive drive growth. Is there something within, you know, within that, that data that you within that approach that you think has made you really effective? Is there, is there some part of the approach that you feel sets BetterMe apart from other businesses in terms of how you look at analytics and how you measure success?
Victoria Repa 00:28:58 Um, okay. At the BetterMe, we are measuring success and first of all, monthly active users, it’s crucial for us to give more people at two to reach their goals and build a healthy lifestyle. Uh, and of course, uh, for us, uh, it’s like test metrics and second it’s, uh, how people achieve their results in terms of weight loss or build massive,
Sean Ellis 00:29:28 But monthly active users is the, is, is the main metric that you’re gauging that on. And then, um, what, what does a monthly active user mean for you? Does it, does it mean they, they log into the app one time in the month? Does it mean that there’s there, there’s some kind of, some kind of consistency to, to usage?
Victoria Repa 00:29:48 Uh, we have, uh, like complex metrics. What is the monthly active usage? This not just open support, it’s maybe one workout, one, uh, log, uh, of the food and et cetera. So it’s complex internal, um, metrics.
Sean Ellis 00:30:08 And then how, how much do you feel like the, you know, you said you have 200 people now in the, in the company. Do you feel like most people understand across the company, uh, how, how you grow that metric? Um, or is it something that’s really just the growth team, maybe that’s, that’s focused on, on growing monthly active users?
Victoria Repa 00:30:32 Uh, no, I hope maybe we have ’em every quarter and, uh, used, okay. Which one, show us what is the key metrics and Zen splits this, uh, key, uh, metrics for the different team and measure it, of course, it’s technical support, how they can improve. And after three months, of course, stop and measure how we can achieve our objectives.
Sean Ellis 00:31:12 And, you know, as someone who has used an app for me personally, has had, I’ve used an app in, in recent years for, uh, weight loss. And it worked really well. And then, you know, the, the pandemic, uh, it’s just sometimes hard to stay focused on it, um, is, you know, as, at the end of the day, is, is, is that what success looks like for you that, that people reach their weight goals or, um, maybe just that they’re happy. Is that more important than reaching their weight goals or are the two tied together, like, so success on an individual level? What does that look like?
Victoria Repa 00:31:52 Uh, for us is a different group of users. First of all, there are of course, people who come to us to, uh, lose weight. It’s a first group, second group it’s adjust, stay fit. And so it is a built muscles and there are different metrics of success, but , I totally believe if people, um, go maybe three times, two hour and make at least 20 minutes workouts, they increase the level of fender fences go force is I feel better. Right,
Sean Ellis 00:32:24 Right. Yeah. It’s amazing. How much exercise has, uh, has, has a tie into happiness, for sure. I noticed
Ethan Garr 00:32:32 That you’re at you. You’re very, um, aggressive and I don’t mean in a, in a negative way at, with your use of push notifications to help drive those cycles, to get me as a, as a user to build a habit around this. Is that something that you’re, you’ve focused on as a, as a team holistically, or is there like one group within your company that really tries to work on getting that messaging right. And getting people into that healthy habit through that external trigger?
Victoria Repa 00:33:02 Uh, we use the different approaches of course, uh, and tests a lot. So of course we have, the group was really aggressive, uh, push notification, but it’s never stopped as a process in terms of our approach because as we have super app in terms of our physical health, and if people now, for example, because only track calories or just three times running workouts, so it’s a different push notification.
Ethan Garr 00:33:33 I see. So the push notifications try to learn from you try to learn from the customers, what their, what their behaviors are and then adjust them around that. Yeah, like I said, it seems really, um, it seems like a really smart and thoughtful approach to push notifications and trying to build engagement around that. So, um, uh, and it’s funny, cause, uh, over the holiday weekend here, I, uh, I purchased the treadmill and I thought, oh wow, this is because it’s getting cold out here and where I am. And I thought, oh, this is, uh, this is, this is neat. Nice. See how the push notifications are so encouraging in terms of getting me, you know, go use that treadmill. You just made the worst.
Sean Ellis 00:34:14 So Ethan and I have a walking meeting every day. Um, and, uh, as it starts to get colder weather where he lives, uh, I assume the walking meeting will now move to the treadmill sometime
Ethan Garr 00:34:25 It may, although the treadmill I picked up as super loud, so I’m not sure you’ll be able to hear me if I’m on it, but, uh, we’ll see. Uh, but, um, but no, I, I do think, um, one of the, you know, it’s funny because, uh, I was joking with a friend. I said, you should never buy a new treadmill because anytime you go on Craigslist, there’s hundreds of them available for people that have kind of given up. But I think what we’re seeing and, you know, Sean spoke to the CEO of mirror and we’ve, um, we had a great conversation with the CEO of nuMe, another app in your space. And it seems like apps can be really complimentary to these tools in a way where they can actually really, you know, it’s, it’s one thing to go out and buy a tool to go get yourself to work out.
Ethan Garr 00:35:13 But the motivation has to be, has to become internal. Um, and I feels like an app, like BetterMe can really help drive that, that cycle of getting people to feel like this is part of their daily lives and important part of it. And I, I’m just curious as you know, it seems like for that to be effective, it’s a matter of your team. And you’ve mentioned now that you’re 200 people, it seems like your team really has to be focused on the end customer end user goals and how they get there. How, how do you create the environment, the culture where people on your teams, every, you know, as Sean was alluding to this with in terms of the metrics, but how do you get everybody just culturally to believe that in, in this approach and how to think about getting the end-users to their goal,
Victoria Repa 00:35:59 It’s a flush on buttons to create an environment where talent can strive to foster this environment field. But for me, give voice to every team member and, uh, everyone can improve user experience and everyone care about our users and managers listen to every idea and help implement the best plans and test them on the product itself. Every team member has the freedom to be creative and at the same time has their specific outcome.
Sean Ellis 00:36:31 Yeah. So I, speaking of like growing that team to, to 200, um, I’ve, I’ve been many times on the journey with companies where, um, you know, it’s a very different company when it’s 10 people. And then, you know, when it’s 50 people or 100 people or a thousand people, um, it just, they, it, it’s hard to have the same culture and, and, you know, there are different challenges come up from, for me personally, it seems like around 30 people is a really difficult, uh, transition because maybe you don’t know everyone as well after 30 people. Um, have you found that as, as the company’s grown that it’s harder to keep everyone on the same page and, and to keep that, that strong culture focused on customers, um, or, or have you found ways that, um, it, it seems to not be so challenging, um, by just having a strong mission,
Victoria Repa 00:37:33 Uh, I believe in trumps of management, everyone was farmed out before my management and rule, or for management is you manage seven plus minus two person. And it doesn’t matter is 10 person certified person, 50%, 200 person. My and minus one level of management is crucial for me and I help to create them and minus to management. But my key team is seven plus minus two, that’s it?
Sean Ellis 00:38:15 So it’s about having the right, the right, uh, direct reports to you who, and if you, if you do a good job, keeping them on the same page and they do a good job, keeping their teams on the same page that, that it tends to scale well,
Victoria Repa 00:38:31 Yeah, absolutely. Right.
Ethan Garr 00:38:33 You met, you mentioned you okay. Ours to sort of manage the whole process. Has that been an important piece for you and in being successful and have you found it challenging as well?
Victoria Repa 00:38:46 Um, of course, if you talk about new launches and new products for, but for me, uh, two crucial for the next stage of business, I control it by myself, but, uh, if we have about the operational processes, business business as usual.
Ethan Garr 00:39:07 Gotcha. So the, okay, ours are our help from the operational standpoint, but from the creativity stuff, like the larger sort of creative vision for the company, you feel like you have to drive that from, from your, from your personal kind of
Victoria Repa 00:39:22 Approach. Yeah.
Sean Ellis 00:39:25 And what about mistakes that you see other leaders make? Do you, are there, are there things that you see others make that you say, oh, that’s, that’s not good, don’t do that. Or you just focused so much on your own, on your own situation that you’re, you’re not too worried about what other people do.
Victoria Repa 00:39:42 Um, for me, it’s maybe a three crucial mistakes. It’s first for bureaucracy. Um, it’s quite a common mistake leaders make nowadays. I think that creating goals and devastating time, uh, of human resources. So first of all, delivers, uh, the results, not the processes, the key mantra, and second is, um, not listening the lack of effective and respectful listening. Again, two way communication between team and readers is clear, uh, should come in for many companies. And, uh, sort of course, it’s micromanagement, um, this, this, this way ultimately kill your team motivation and creativity. And of course they are, you should, as leaders should do the gate
Sean Ellis 00:40:38 And hopefully OKR has helped with that by keeping people more focused on objectives rather than on exactly how they achieve the objectives.
Victoria Repa 00:40:47 Of course.
Sean Ellis 00:40:49 Yeah. So maybe, maybe changing, changing directions a little bit and talking back to the, the growth engine of the, of the BetterMe business, uh, how, how do most new customers find out about, BetterMe?
Victoria Repa 00:41:05 Uh, if a doc about a acquisition, uh, you mean, um, yeah, of course. Uh, we have, uh, today maybe 30% of our organic users, um, it’s drives by our social media about 10 million, uh, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, uh, our subscribers while we just provide, um, free content. And if people trust us, they want to download app. And of course we have big, uh, blog on our website. And today when people searched, uh, Samsung about weight loss, um, they go to our sites to find, of course, a free content, uh, made by doctors or therapists. And of course, if they trust, they download our application, um, and 70% is paid marketing position, like in everybody on Facebook, Google and et cetera.
Sean Ellis 00:42:15 And when you’re doing the paid marketing, are you, are you promoting the app directly or is it, is it promoting more of the content and bringing them down that, that, uh, content engine that you just talked about?
Victoria Repa 00:42:30 Will you put them on top, directly
Sean Ellis 00:42:33 Promote the app directly? Okay. And then do you have a free trial on the app or is it, is it only the paid?
Victoria Repa 00:42:41 We have different approaches and of course it’s a never stop test, a Different one time payment. We have a different trial for different programs. So I can say on this is monetization .
Sean Ellis 00:43:03 So yeah, just constantly optimizing to figure out what works best in what situation
Victoria Repa 00:43:10 Uh, it’s most cases, if you talk about Harvard researchers a lot, and I see it’s now adopters, when people pay in advance, for example, for one years, they have a twice bigger retention.
Ethan Garr 00:43:27 It makes sense, certainly with the apps, uh, that that’s true. If you can get people onto a yearly subscriptions, it can be very valuable in terms of lifetime value. What, um, I, like I said, I went through, you know, I’m, I’m a, I’m a user now. Um, and I, I noticed, um, the onboarding process, uh, was, was actually very educational in itself. The questions you’re asking, but I’m curious if you want, if you could take, take our audience a little bit through the journey that it user takes from download to becoming a user and a fan of the, of the app.
Victoria Repa 00:44:01 Um, we have started to in terms of our marketing creatives in terms of our court. And so, uh, we tried on the first point before users downloads app, explain a lot and, uh, starts it. You have a personalized quiz, that’s, don’t understand, uh, what is, what should be your ideal weight or how to achieve your goals and bill parcel, et cetera, and Zen, when people download and go through the quiz and unimportant, they continue your onboarding in educational program with like a simulation of the therapy.
Ethan Garr 00:44:49 Right? So I noticed that as I was, as I was going through the onboarding, it felt like I was being quizzed, but quizzed for my own benefit. Would you say that’s, that’s like, that’s sort of the approach, like ask questions to get the customer thinking about their own health.
Victoria Repa 00:45:06 Yeah, of course. If we talk about weight loss, it’s fills the fall, you need to provide people with a lot of details and they should understood what is a different approach, because I have a lot of that. I have a lot of facts aside last and help me. So you should show Zen, what is the different, how you different.
Sean Ellis 00:45:36 So that’s, I would say that your industry is probably the most difficult in terms of, uh, in terms of retention. So if just the two that you said, whether it’s exercise or it’s weight loss, everybody wants to do it, but so many people stop doing it. So obviously the success in, in apps is, is around keeping customers. What do, what do you think is the most important thing that you’re doing that, uh, that helps you keep customers?
Victoria Repa 00:46:13 Uh, yes. If it talk about, um, we compete in the most case, uh, apps or programs, we compete with the Netflix. And, uh, so in reality, we tried to give people and sale maybe first of all, sell what they want and then give them what they need. So of course we started from the, you need to lose weight, start, uh, easy exercise, uh, your body and et cetera. And once they go to the application, which just provides a piece of information and B, we believe helps them to sync different on the weight loss process and that the stones that it’s not for one night and it’s not for, from the first Monday, and from the first January, it’s like a different approach and you need to work with us,
Sean Ellis 00:47:23 Um, helping them change the rest of their life. It sounds like to some degree, which is, which is really difficult, but, uh, but important.
Ethan Garr 00:47:33 So for, for a user who maybe, uh, you know, like you said, tried dieting and tried, you know, different things to probably fail 20 times, as you said, who do you think, what do you think the, the person who succeeds with BetterMe and becomes just a raving fan of, of the app and uses it for a long time, because it’s so effective for them. What do you think is different about that person versus people who don’t succeed with it?
Victoria Repa 00:48:04 Oh, crucial sync is discipline. Discipline is a freedom. So you need to do everyday routine and, uh, if you are failed, you don’t need to find new approach, new, that new exercise. You need to start again from the first day, that’s it.
Sean Ellis 00:48:29 So, Dan, do you offer that in the app? Is there kind of a, um, let’s start again, mode in the app if they, if they start to slip over too long of time?
Victoria Repa 00:48:40 Uh, yeah. We just provide them, there’s this idea, but for people it’s really hard to understand is that if they want a new diet from the Monday and don’t use this, something went wrong, it something went wrong, not with the diet. You need to start with yourself. Yeah.
Sean Ellis 00:49:03 Right. Yeah, exactly. Which is a hard, because you, your total is the app to try to change them their self to some degree. But, um, yeah, if it’s, uh, I think that just that the angle that Ethan was going there about not just how, how are those people different in how they experienced the product, but are they, are they different type of people? And, and you said, discipline is, is maybe really important, but if they had such strong discipline, maybe, maybe they wouldn’t need the app to start with. So it’s, uh, yeah, it’s, it’s a, it’s a very challenging place, but obviously, um, obviously I think the, uh, success that you’ve had with it, um, means that you’re, you’re figuring it out every day through the testing that you’re doing. So that’s, that’s good. Congratulations on the, on, on the progress of, uh, of, of doing that. And I have to assume that the, that the mission, you know, knowing how much good you’re doing in the world when you’re successful, um, gives you a lot of energy in, uh, in, in being able to keep working hard every day to drive success. Is that, is that, is that true or,
Victoria Repa 00:50:18 Yeah, I really believe that, first of all, I need like a CEO and my key team, uh, manage their energy Athens, uh, time. And for me, of course, I used ever since my energy start from exercise in the morning, one hour, every day, and second is a right eating habits. So everything’s that I promote in our application, I use by myself and I know that it’s like a great, never stop operation of the energies that they can convert useful to evolve.
Ethan Garr 00:50:56 That’s great. It does seem like the, your own personal passion has driven the success of BetterMe quite a bit. And I think, um, you know, really great CEO’s are always effective in, in sharing their experience and then helping the team understand why that experience matters, not just to them, but to that larger audience. So congratulations on that. We always, um, kind of end with one, one question. Uh, we like to ask people who are involved in growth, what do you feel like you understand about growth now, today that maybe you didn’t understand as well? A couple of years ago, maybe before you started BetterMe.
Victoria Repa 00:51:31 Oh, maybe like my yoga teacher wants told me don’t react and X is the time you spent a negative reaction. You will be better spent on acting.
Ethan Garr 00:51:44 I think that’s good advice inside and outside of growth, for sure.
Sean Ellis 00:51:49 Absolutely. Well, yeah, there’s definitely so much learning here, but I think the biggest, my biggest takeaway through this conversation is that, um, you know, in, in speaking about how you’re approaching growth and, and approaching the business, um, it, it’s no different than how I see the best companies in Silicon valley approaching growth. And I think it’s a, it’s a fantastic Testament to the world we live in now that, um, that it doesn’t matter where you are, you have access to the best, uh, process and, and, and approach to, um, success with startups. It’s the information is all there. And so I think the advantage of being in Silicon valley is probably, uh, dropping significantly when entrepreneurs like yourself can, can do this from Ukraine or from, from really, probably any country in the world now. So that’s my biggest takeaway, Ethan.
Ethan Garr 00:52:50 Yeah, for me, I agree with that. Um, as well, Sean, and it was also interesting to hear you talk about Victoria. Just the fact that growth has been growth as a daily, as a daily grind, not, not in a negative way, but that, you know, if you’re looking for that magic, that one day magic, you might be on the wrong path, but rather, you know, you go through every day, you build an organization, you build the processes and use data intelligently to try to grow, um, and just try to get everyone aligned towards that common goal. Um, without, you know, without looking for
Sean Ellis 00:53:24 Magic tricks to get you there. Um, I think that’s the, uh, it’s a good approach. Yeah. Well, so Victoria, thank you so much for the time today and, and we’re really excited to, uh, continue to watch the success that you have with BetterMe and for everyone listening to the podcast. Thanks for tuning in. Thanks everyone.
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