Finding growth using adjacency strategy with Junwen Lee (CardUp)

In this episode, Junwen Lee (Head of Product at CardUp) talks about:

  • How finding adjacent problems to solve for your customers is key to growth
  • Why it is important to tap into your early adopters as a word-of-mouth channel
  • How you can ensure the early stage growth does not wane by coupling awareness campaign with referral strategies
  • How to optimise your viral loop based on your customer segments
  • The difference between the B2B and B2C buying cycle and buying psyche
  • Using context as a way to accelerate product adoption

Podcast information:

About the guest

Junwen Lee is the Head of Product at CardUp – a fintech solution that enables credit card payments on rent payments, business invoices, etc. Prior to CardUp, Junwen has worked in companies such as A Better Florist, Yolo Pay, and Yodaa.

Find him here:


Books, tools, people, frameworks mentioned in this episode:

Junwen Lee 0:00
We want to understand how exactly they use the product and the adjacent workflows and life around their product. Right. So payments is a step in the overall business process, and you do things before payments, they do things after payments, and you have various concerns around that as well. So we want to understand the problems we are facing right around that. So we can see opportunities for how we could expand the problems that resolve.

Ricky Willianto 0:25
One of the ways startups can find new sources of growth is to find new problems to solve for their customers. In this episode of growth multiplier, we speak to genuine from kartha, who believes that the best growth opportunities are in solving adjacent problems that surround the core problem your product is already solving genuine applies this adjacency strategy, not only in building new features and use cases for his product, but also in finding new customer segments and channels. Stay tuned for more.

My name is Ricky Willianto, co founder of Raven, GRI and the host of the growth multiplier podcast. Through this podcast, I hope to uncover the pathways, startups and companies have taken in their journey of growth, share some stories from the trenches, and hopefully identify patterns and hacks that can be replicated by businesses in Asia and the rest of the world. I hope you enjoyed the show.

Junwen Lee 5:01
Unlock various benefits, as you mentioned just now, right? So they can, they can utilise their credit line to manage their working capital. And we can, and we can now use our credit cards way better. So yeah, so cut up was launched in 2007. And within a couple years, we are processing hundreds of millions in payment volume flowing through the platform. So yeah, it wasn’t there right at the start, right when MVP was created, but by the our founders, and the CEO, CTO, they’re all part of the the all in finance in the credit card space, right? In payments, right from the start. So like they could this solve this problem, and saw the opportunity. And it created MVP for that. So I joined, I joined after I joined early enough to see the early growth efforts and support that

Ricky Willianto 5:47
what was the initial things that you had to put in place to really help the company have like a very clear pathway towards growth? I think you could use through to,

Junwen Lee 5:57
to layout basically how we actually got from point zero to one in terms of initial attraction, and I could talk to you a little bit of like, the various things I did and where I failed, and how we actually got your initial experiments and scalar product, right?

Ricky Willianto 6:12
Yes, we’d love to hear all that.

Junwen Lee 6:14
Yeah. Okay, cool. So, from zero to one perspective, right, as in terms of initial attraction. So the challenge was that we wanted to find initial acquisition channel fits, right, in essence, the way to repeatedly assess a large, scalable pool of our early adopters. So to do this, we have to ask ourselves for the problem, we solve the value we create uniquely by quarter, right? Where do the people who care most about it hang out? So rather than start Firstly, by all the channels we access to we have to work backwards from there in order to find like the most the hypothesis for the most effective channels? So our early adopters, right? These are the personal finance optimizers, right? They’re also hypothesis based on the first few customers, we had desktop users. So these are the credit card wizards, the frequent flyer miles optimizer, these are the people a lot of credit cards, and they use them in a very high engagement way. And they Oh,

Ricky Willianto 7:16
these are people who was able to go and just buy entire, like return tickets using just miles, right? And these are business class tickets.

Junwen Lee 7:22
Exactly, exactly right. And they see they really see the value in it. And then they have this optimization mindset, right. And they’re always learning more about how to do it better. So these guys all gets and share information in various online personal finance, communities, publications, some of them are pretty broad, right? Like money smarts, I simply saw that more niche trader focus just on mouse, and all right, so to maximise our speed to market of traction, instead of creating our own publication right at the start, or community from the ground up. So we tapped on this as a thing highly engaged communities, right to be able to access their audience, right? So we reached out to them with a novel product is super highly relevant to their comedy and readers. Because these guys are all about maximising their credit cards and cardup comes in and directly solve this problem for that, right. Yep, yeah. So we offered the contribute material contribute content, right. And we got, we got multiple features on this community and publications from that. So to the end, this drove our initial search volume. And this is this is not a one time thing as well, right? Because as new credit card products launched into the market, or the question of how to make the most of your credit cards, or how to optimise your mouth and things every time, the broad question of how to of how to do this comes into discussion often gets raised as an interesting way to achieve that goal, right, we should produce repeated traffic from high intent audiences. So so this is this is the first core channel that drove our traffic. And so the second thing that worked well for us is cut up was incubated by one of the large banks and regional banks, right. And so this gives us the impetus to partner directly with banks to promote cut up together with the cat products, because of the synergies or being able to drive more spin to cretica. So this, this has always launched campaigns, in, in partnership, like for Ubp v cut that use it with Kodak, for example. And this gets promoted to the to the whole UBS, for example. So this hit lush, highly targeted user basis, right? with assistance from our partners. This allowed us to scale from one to multiple partnerships with the banks. And so this, these are two of the channels that worked worked well for us from the beginning. And so when you zoom out and look at the overall model, right, so these channels are the ones that generate traffic there we can, you can expand the graph. Ultimately, these are channels that generate traffic and complicated linear fashion, right? So the key to ramping up the lead roof was taking this stream of users, and funnelling them through an acquisition loop. And at that time use this was our referral programme. So this was give it to give $20 get me those of your transaction fees. And Power BI, this word of mouth became our biggest acquisition driver where a large percentage of users each brought in one or more additional users.

Ricky Willianto 10:31
So let me pause here before you go further, because I want to understand a little bit in the community and the partnership side, right. Well, those two channels developed very early on in cut ups, you know, lifecycle?

Junwen Lee 10:45
Yes, yeah.

Ricky Willianto 10:46
Okay. How did you Okay, community, I think we understand how, like, you know, it is easy to kind of like, it’s much easier to kind of find, you know, community that’s really talking about specific topics, and, you know, try to create content there and be relevant and be thought leader. But with partnership, right, I think that is usually a bit more challenging for startup, especially with larger institutions like banks, how did how did you manage to, you know, get on that?

Junwen Lee 11:10
Yeah, this is so Carla was lucky enough to be actually incubated by one of the large banks, right. So it was easy for us to start ownerships of that. And so but in addition to that, like the what the key thing to think about is this, how do we how do we really make it a direct win win situation, right, with this partners? Because oftentimes, when we want to do partnerships, how much of an overlap and the goals and KPIs between, say your company and my company and the partner, how much does that overlap, so in cut offs keeps, it really helps the ecosystem of the financial partners, right, so as the startup will not necessarily have that the typical mindset of We are here to disrupt all the incumbents, right? So that doesn’t always make sense for them to focus on what makes more sense for us is that we actually synergize really well with the current incumbents, the big banks, because they have all this cart products, their credit cards, and their credit cards, January are going to change, right, which is the revenue for for the banks. And the more spend gets put through credit card, the more revenue they earn, right with the value that they create for the users I will highlight is that due to the gap that we discussed just now, right, people can really utilise their credit cards to the maximum possible write up will still collect comes in, and we directly increase the revenue, or directly increase the number of users that could come and use this credit cards. So it was the most way more straightforward angle for us to get in into the game and the initial experience of actually being incubated by these large banks. Right. It’s helped us get into the game much faster.

Ricky Willianto 12:47
Got it? Got it. And then when did the referral programme? When was it introduced?

Junwen Lee 12:52
Yeah, so it was introduced very shortly in like, right, by almost right at the start. That’s one of the key things because as we, as we start generating this traffic, we needed to be that we wanted to figure out how to take this linear growth, and how do we, how do we curve it outwards? Right? And how do you get one user to turn into 1.2 users 1.52 users, etc. And so we, we found that there was there’s really, some word of mouth as well, more tends to be very hard to measure, right? When we start seeing things, some people post, like comments on on these articles. And, and we and we had really good, they started measuring our net promoter score very early on as well. And we understood that actually, we are, we are actually creating value for the users. And it was really good one. So so the referral programme we saw as a way for us to to accelerate, and this particular workflow channel and incentivize people who might be just like, in the background to start sharing more, right? Because, yeah, because this is a lot of this is kind of like a very quantitative game. And with optimization mindset, our hypothesis is that if we could spur this on further, we could really ramp this up.

Ricky Willianto 14:06
So out of curiosity, when you mentioned initial linear growth, we are referring to those channels, which is the community channel and the partnership channel, right? I mean, for startup, that’s just kind of like been, you know, that’s kind of just launched. Shouldn’t those channels bring quite a huge volume already? Why was kind of like, why would they linear?

Junwen Lee 14:28
Yeah. I mean, that you can see it as a funnel. So So the way to look at how this those users and so for example, when we get when we get a blog post, right, featuring us in one of these publications, for it was such and generate, like a few 1000 users, right to do that two to five figures of users at one go, right and then this will then taper off my visa gelgoog an addict This is what you see and then we will scan then You will continue, it will continue generating user just based on the fact that the articles devices, there are the foreign post users, right? And it is by your table down because the initial promotion of that particular post has has died off, right. And so the way the way we secure that is typically two vectors. The first one is to get more posts, right? And there’s a certain amount of saturation that we get, how many? How many times can we get featured in a particular community? And then the second one is to get more, get more partners or publications or communities to do features, right? Or get into the discussion more, right? So just two vectors get us ramped up the traffic. But as you can imagine this, these are not things that were theoretically like there’s a certain amount of work that needs to be done to scale this up, and takes time as well. Right. And it’s not like we get one post and we get like, constantly increasing growth. Right. So we had to figure out how to make use of this because the the idea around these channels is we wanted is to is to accelerate our one called SSL acquisition. Right? So these things get attention and split attention at most of time together. And so we wanted to figure out how to use this attention to power the zoo that generates more users, right engineers, more word of mouth. And this is a service for that party. And the participants their referral programme and just walked off in general. Yeah.

Ricky Willianto 16:27
So the referral programme has been running from 2017. Right, almost when you started, and is it still running now?

Junwen Lee 16:33
Yes, you’re running?

Ricky Willianto 16:35
Yeah. How would you assess the performance of that? You know, that strategy, that growth strategy?

Junwen Lee 16:41
Yeah. Yeah. So the referral programme. So the the amount of the various metrics we look at, right, so the most obvious one is the is the viral coefficient, right? So basically, how for each user that signs up and activates, right, how many new? How many more users do they bring in? Right? So when we started, we got a pretty large percentage of users, I remember was more than 30%. So he brought in one or more additional users. And these are all early adopters, right. And we also saw people start posting on Facebook groups, or creating foreign trips, commenting on related articles, even if the article was not about Canada, right and more about credit cards and nails. And they do this to talk about kind of shareable content and share their referral code so they can get the rewards. Right. And so this became like a good search. And the key about the referral programme is that we didn’t, we didn’t stick to just launch a referral programme, and then we stopped there and hope that it hope that it just goes up. So we, we did a bunch of optimization around it. So one of things is to see it as a mini funnel. So even even typically, people don’t think of funnel as like the acquisition, activation, and the flow of things, drop that but every single growth loop has its own mini funnel. So for for the referral programme, they see it first as the level of awareness, how many people actually chanced upon the, the videos of the referral programme, right, the call to action, and then they how many people actually take the action right off of triggering a share? Right? So what type of action is it like sharing on Facebook is it sharing through our automated email sender, and things like that, and then they, we try our best to measure a protocol like a branching factor. But this is typically really tough. So oftentimes, we just we just proxy with the little mouse that we have, right? And then we see people who come in through this, this share links, right, which is the traffic that comes from that, and then the conversion rate of, of those people that were invited, and then the revenue they generate. So the referral referral programme is something that can be quite good that can go really well or can go really wrong just based on the how much money you give out and and take it right so we also track the lifetime value of, of the people who were referred to join our product and also the rewards that we’re giving out to make sure that we’re not like just going into the red I just like that. So so we optimise this optimise we added more sharing methods, Whatsapp, Facebook, automated, automated email senders, why for example, as we get more people actually sharing and then we also ensure that the referral programme was just like a link on the page, right, and people will will chanced upon it or if they schedule on efa we did things like to optimise them or touch points. So we went we added the referral programme as a page that people will land on every single time they set up a payments, right so after you set up payments, okay, cool. So now for your next payment you want to make even more money I refer users and get money off right. So yeah, so so we so we did all these things to you just make sure that is front and centre. Right, especially the stats. And another way that our marketing team scaled it up is also from a partnerships perspective. So we mentioned the publication’s right, the financial influences, at the mall, many of them who are using our products. And so we we work with them, we give them a referral programme. So they could actually be sharing their code right on their, on their blog posts on the community. And this gave them more reasons to actually post the book, as well got it. Yeah.

Ricky Willianto 20:20
So what is the viral coefficient that you’re looking at right now with the referral programme, as long as it’s above one, that means that you’re actually bringing at least one person, like, you know, every single user is bringing one additional user, right, so it is quite healthy. But what the best kind of viral marketing through referral is the one where you see like every single person bringing three, right, which is what I think, was it Pay Pal, who is doing that, like they had like, insane viral coefficient, and then Dropbox was the same thing. You can like, bring up to like, what, 10 people and then you get an additional 20 gigabyte or something like that, right? Yeah. So those are the kind of like numbers you want to see. But I’m just curious, in a market like Singapore with a product like cut up, like what is a healthy? Like, benchmark?

Junwen Lee 21:00
Right, right. Yeah, the truth is, I don’t actually know the answer for this. Yeah. And I will say that if you can achieve above one for your vertical efficient, that’s actually really, really impactful. And the truth is the vote coefficient, we would segment it across across our user base as well. Like, for example, one of the things we did is from a business perspective, we actually implemented a referral programme as well. Alright, so for for users, when you refer another consumer, by someone to join to another individual to use our consumer products. So we reward you if I $20 off your transaction fees, when we refer our business, we want you if $200 of your transaction fees. Yeah. And the reason because it’s the right time that we have a business on our platform is actually that much higher. Right. But as we expect, the coefficient for businesses is way lower than that for consumers, because the amount of education and activation efforts needed to to get business on the platform is way higher.

Ricky Willianto 21:58
Yeah, I find that like building referral programmes for b2b products tend to be hard, because usually referral programme relies on personal incentive. So if you are not yourself getting the money that $200 it’s very hard for you to justify why you should put yourself out there and try to convince a friend to use a new product when the business is the one who’s getting the credit. Right. So like, is that? Is that what you’re seeing his own cut up?

Junwen Lee 22:24
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So for for business dynamic is is really different. Right. And I think that, from my actually, if we zoom out from this concept a little bit more, I mean, the difference between consumers and business, what makes the difference is the complexity of the decision process in choosing buying and activating your product. And this is largely inherent in the type of products or the use case that you’re optimised for. Right? Yeah, they often ways to simplify and make things more of ourselves, for example, right. So like, if we if you take, if you take a step back and look at the various products that have some experience in in my previous company, about florists. So this was a ecommerce flower delivery company. Right. So this was b2c? So this is a super established category, right? You don’t need to explain what flowers are, right? People, you don’t need to explain why you may want to get your girlfriend or your wife flowers in boyfriend or boyfriend it. Exactly, exactly. And in fact, in fact, most of our key audiences back then, was was like almost half of them women buying for like the family members. Sometimes I buy grants, as well. So this is a highly visual product, right? Yeah, unlike most many other SAS products, or software products, and this makes it really easy to capture attention on visual channels, right? Whenever it gets shared, or wherever we run ads, right? And so on Instagram and Facebook, right. So the when it comes to customer acquisition here, the marketing challenge here is to be top of mind, right? Firstly, right when the impetus the other notch to get followers occurs in the person’s mind, we want you wanted to be top of mind. And secondly, you want to be seen as the simpler the favourite choice, right? faster, better, cheaper without them having to think too much about as happy as actually why that’s the case. But but still make a clear. Right so so from a b2c ecommerce perspective, there was the key Marketing Challenge. And this was this was actually one of the and you asked the question on savasana things I started doing in order to hit the growth goals and right so it was it was paid advertising as one of the things I wanted to bring in here right so I ran experiments right across Facebook, LinkedIn ads in LinkedIn in mail and more. This is for a better florist. I forgot. Oh, this is all caught up right. Got it. Yeah. So I was testing all the big variables federal anger positioning, audience targeting and we initially got some okay results go kick generates some conversions,

Ricky Willianto 24:59
but So what is a good click through rate for product? Like cutter?

Junwen Lee 25:02
Yeah. So it so it depends actually there’s, there’s, there’s no real benchmark, right? So how do we what we’re looking for as the payback period, right? So we will be targeting from, like a breakeven, right, within three months of the user activating and transacting on our platform. Right? So a good a good click through rate could be good, right. But if the conversion rate is really bad, right, then the country does not matter. Right? On as much, right. So at the time, because the conversion was was pretty okay, we could achieve roughly where our target payback period would be based on our lifetime value of the customer right over the first three months of them actually activating. Right? Yeah, so initially, it was okay. It was really difficult to scale it up once once, after we targeted really, really small and every time we tried to expand the targeting is totally good discoveries that you start seeing all the numbers go go nuts. So I had a hard realisation that can just bring what works super well, from one company to another. The context for across products, ABC, b2b across time, across industries, very, very different. So so that was a segue in the sense where we talked about my previous company for delivery. So what worked really well for me, right at the at the time, was the acquisition through that icing. And as my imagine, like the variables that we talked about, on the Marketing Challenge, right, and how visual is made it actually way easier to do. But for our payments, product, by colour, way more checkboxes to take in that decision. Yeah, especially if you’re targeting outside of our high intent early adopter group. So they’re completely it’s a completely new concept. Right? Yeah. Right. So you’re going to highlight the value of the product in as little words as possible, as people are scrolling through, and then create all the initial query all the additional questions after we get the interest in all the various questions and docs that can come up, right. So for example, for example, this is a startup that handles payments, is that trusted, is it secure, right? And you can see the decision journey is much longer. Yeah. So at the time, right. So my marketing tactics, especially around paid acquisition was primarily focused on direct response, right, promoting the product value, your sound now by now, right? Obviously, this wouldn’t work, as well as in the e commerce context. Right. So, right now, we’re still testing, right? We were making some progress, right, but we have reoriented our hypothesis around like the marketing challenge for when it comes to this particular channel for arising from, from debt to like smaller conversions, right? or micro conversions. Like for example, we create guides to on how to optimise your credit cards, right, we create an automated rewards calculator. And because because one of the key decision factors is can I make a profit through colour, right? So why why make them go through all the many calculations where we could automate the calculation for them, right and make that experience. So we created tools like that on our website, and then we could promote through our doctors a true true content. And this is do pretty pretty early days as well. But this is this is the trick in the way we approach ads right now, rather than solely focusing on direct response. Yeah, so this captures leads, and we retarget them over a longer period of time via free channels, like email, and nurture them all the time, right into customers.

Ricky Willianto 28:23
Got it. Got it. And in doing this during this time, as well, what are some of the, you know, other growth initiatives that you’ve put into caught up? That, you know, you see, getting getting you get good results? Right, something that maybe 5x or 10x? You know, the different stages of the funnel?

Junwen Lee 28:43
Right, right. Yep. So So then the question is, around growth, how do we scale about growth? And when I was there, because I was, I was stepping on both into the role of both product and, and growth and supporting growth, right. So in a sense, when it went from a zoomed out view that two big levers that we could look at. So the first one was growing faster within the market that we are already targeting currently, and we serve well, right. So this is this is why we did we think about wave when it comes to growth,

Ricky Willianto 29:14
right? And the second one, and do you think about that, from a geographical standpoint, or segments standpoint,

Junwen Lee 29:19
segments, then points? Got it? Yeah. And that was the first level and second level was about expanding our products to serve the adjacent segments, right? And making them which essentially makes the market size of the customers we can serve well, bigger order of magnitude bigger. Right. So this is my waterfall part, one of my priorities was actually to focus on the number two. And so the question becomes, how do we how do you figure out exactly what to do for that level of expanding our productive serve edges and customer segments? So we ask ourselves, well, what sources of insights for those edges and opportunities, so there are typically a few key ones in addition To like the overall vision, right, so the first one was like the leads or users were drawn in by your value hook, right? your marketing campaigns, right, but ended up not converting or they converted, but they had really, really poor engagements, right because of some specific gap. So these are, you can call this a non converted for non engages. And so the reasons why they did not convert, and this is what we needed to understand right in person. And the second group would be the, you’re really engaged users, you’re very valuable users, right. And we want to understand how exactly they use the product, and the adjacent workflows and life around a product. Right. So payments is a step in the overall business process, right, and you do things before payments, they do things after payments, and you have various concerns around that as well. So we want to understand the problems they are facing right around that. So we can see opportunities of how we could expand the problems they resolve, as they actually overlap with what we are good at. And lastly, just all the like the overall competitive analysis, your question the questions and requests that come in from customers, right, so So, so all these sources of anxiety, right, where we had to process that filter, and ultimately, this led to various new products and features to target these adjacencies. So for example, one of the key not the big things that we launched is our business products, right colour for business. And the impetus for this is that we had known demand from our from our consumer segments, some of them are actually business owners, or like CFO type people from various SMEs. And they’re actually using our product and try and use it for their business. Right. And, and many of them are reaching out to us and asking us mister bought businesses. And so there are some don’t imagine here. And so we could just let them use the consumer product. But the truth is to really screw up a business product, we needed to close the gap and what we saw as the table six product features that actually make our product usable for businesses at scale, and create an MVP for that. And so for business to be able to use the product, effectively, the minimal amount of concern is actually way bigger than, than the consumer, right. So for example, right key management you need, you need to be able to manage your things our finance team can do on top and be able to control that it management, but permissions right there, you need, you need better reporting, right, you need to be able to download the data. So you can use it and do your accounting and various things like this. These are not innovations, right. So that’s why we closed tables, six features that we had to close that gap one. And so there are core innovation of being able to use your credit card and pay anyone even if they don’t accept credit card and the features around it could come into play for businesses to actually use it. Right. So so we scoped this out, we launched our business product. And and that generated and right now, like the products for business actually generate more revenue than our consumer market right now. Right. So that’s a big he is in play. Yeah. And along with that various other features like, so we initially supported just domestic payments. Right. So one of the one of the new things we did was to have all those businesses that have cross border payments to pay, right. So you may have like new supplies in Indonesia, you wanted to pay, or you may be the type of business that primary that’s primarily functioning as the importer, which means most of your cost of goods, right. All your all your all your overall business expenses are all international payments. And, yeah, so here’s why we integrated the cross border payments feature for you to use cardup to pay overseas suppliers not just within the country itself, as long as you expand the lifetime value of the business. Right. So So in looking for adjacencies like this, that’s what drove like, not just in small incremental value, but all that magnitude increases in

Ricky Willianto 33:54
so a lot of the I think I wouldn’t say well, I guess it is a lot of the growth initiative is also quite use case driven, right. So you are thinking about like different use cases. And that is kind of like you know, that stem from the different segment that you’re looking into right. So within let’s let’s talk about a consumer segment. So, within the consumer segment itself, have you seen like different or exploring different use cases as well you know, beyond the initial ones, which was kind of like you know, making payments for you know, your rent the you know, the cost that typically cannot be paid using credit card right, have you looked at like you know, completely different AI experimenting with completely different use cases for the consumer segment.

Junwen Lee 34:35
Yeah. So, for for the consumer segments, we are we are focusing a little bit less on consumer, but we are keeping what we what we are focusing on when comes to use cases, right. What we are focusing on from the consumer perspective is to keep the product simple, but keep make the user experience as seamless as possible. Right. So, and because one that’s one of the key focuses and we want to get we want to ensure that by the conversion funnel A consumer is as strong as possible and to make it easy to secure as possible. From a use case perspective, we are focusing a lot more in the business segments.

Ricky Willianto 35:09
Got it? So I want to I want to also come and talk a little bit about maybe things that did not go so well. Right. So I think we’ve talked about a lot of things that’s gone really, really well. So what are some of the things that you’ve tried experimented with in the past? That just did not pan out?

Junwen Lee 35:23
Right, yeah, there’s so many things. Yeah, let me let me, let me have a think about that. So yeah, so across the multiple companies, right. I mean, the first one was was was, obviously me taking my assumptions about paid advertising from one company to another and actually worked out by dude’s very so so when it comes to growth experiments and marketing experiments. I did a lot more of this at the previous company about four years. So we did a lot of things that, that, that we thought were a really good idea. And the problem then was, we had no real way to measure it. And so, and we did a lot of random things, right? And in retrospect, this this or this, or things that could there could be driving something, but because we could, they had no way of knowing, right? So there was no, there’s no way for us to actually optimise it, or, at the time, or, or really have keys to security, right. So for example, we’re doing we had when we started looking for partnerships randomly, and like doing partnerships with one or two startups that that sent out email to the base, and then we just stopped there. And we went around town giving up flowers as my brand awareness thing, right. So the most skill we had was, was really small. And we had no way of knowing if these things were working at all right, which in retrospect, was a really was not not was not the best way of approaching growth. Because rather than doing too many small one of things, right, we wanted to try to look for where we could find short term value, right? That you can actually scale up by creating a system around it, which means you needed to have a model for how much how much you can actually get, right. So and that’s what I need to define a lot of other things and one and one interesting channel, that’s that worked out. Really, interestingly, less than what was why I called it partnerships machine at a company so. So in looking around for how to skew up marketing partnerships, and the whole point of partnerships, right is to be able to tap on another company’s base of audience right in order to promote awareness to their audience, versus what versus the channels that we can only be on. So form partnerships with significant looking around for who we could partner with, to do blast and all that kind of stuff. And I actually love random things on LinkedIn, in order to get into the door and talk to the right people. And I realised that one, by one thing that worked really well is actually to reach out to the HR people, right? The Human Resources people in the company, right, not without being super spammy, right. And I found that one angle, right, that worked well, in a context of my company at the time, is to give these people something good that they can share with their company. Okay, so. And the reason why I say in context of the company is because for every product is different, right? So for, for the e commerce company, for flower delivery, flowers is so broadly applicable to everyone that like, you don’t have to explain why. So it’s really attractive, it’s visual, right? So if you apply, you could just share it, and you just know that, like, some people are just gonna like it and do something good. Yeah. So what we did was, we found out that many of this, many of this team, HR teams, they have various systems that they on a frequent basis, they share. They share discounts, they share promotions, that share good things that employees can benefit from, right employee benefits, right to their entire company. Right. So as soon as the internal company portal or mailing lists that we could tap on, and so what and by giving, by giving these people, our, like, ensures our products, and we give them a well designed email template that we customise to the company and customise promo code for the company. Right. And they could share that email template with the whole company. So and, and it was very, very fast to do was really easy and many good because it fits into the what they’re doing in the first way. So they could just sort this into their next next email, for example, right? So all we have to do is just reach out find find the right person, typically with employee benefits in their title, or in their in their role and give them this thing that we could share, right, and there’s like a very high response rate. I remember that we originally was more than 60 was like 50 60% of people. Yeah, they responded that they picked it up, right. So. So the key thing is, as we mentioned, right so shortened value.

Each time they blasted So we have companies like ui singtel, Changi Airport, various banks, right? And these all these are big companies I grab as well, right that did this, right? Because especially when they are more established HR teams actually had the time to do act to act to optimise on the employee benefits. So each time he blasted off, we got anywhere from five to 20 orders, right? There are some short term value right from the start. And when you model this out, if you if you assume that as we scale beyond, right, from right, from the large companies, to the medium to large companies, and so on, we are averaged around like 10 orders per blast, right. And, and the way we approach this is this is not just a one off thing, where every quarter, right, we will refresh our product line, and then we will reconstruct the format of the discount, and then we will send you the new email template that you could blast again, right? So it becomes like a recurring thing, right. So the way you model it would be an average of 10. orders, right? Last time for for the orders time, say 100. Companies, right? So there’s 4000 orders, there. Right? Right. So yeah, and yeah, and then the average order value at the time was several $100, which means that on an annual basis is $400,000. incremental revenue does vary from one one channel there could be, right? And so we managed to, to scale it up to about a member at a time about like 40 to 50 companies doing this, like including zarar and few others, right? And then because you’re so systematised, right, all right, we can hand it off to a junior marketer intend to run. But the key thing, right was it was not just about the forward key in incremental revenue, right? The way we looked at this is how do we how do we how do we hold on more value on top of this available, right, and for every single connection that will be coming in connection, especially the Human Resources team, he made it easier for us to reach out to the marketing team, right, the facilities team, and so on, right? Because once once we have, like, once we have awareness in the company, it was much easier to get to the right person, right. So we got ref reference to the marketing team, or if I grab this or even like a radio show, I wish we could imagine the devil right to run marketing campaigns together with them, right, which is, which you imagine like a small startup, we will be wrapping difficult to get attention in the first place. And we also increase, we also hold on things like b2b flower orders, right? So we typically these people, we sell flowers to the company itself and buy from us, which is way bigger value and also run for our workshops in the company itself. Right? So that’s one thing for every connection, we could scale up to many different value points.

Ricky Willianto 42:42
Okay, so it was kind of like trying to grow and try to like figure out like, you were talking initially, but at Jason’s like segments to grow into now you’re talking about adjacent services that you can offer to the same segment essentially, right? If there’s anything, yeah. So okay, maybe let me change gears a little bit. Because I think you’ve done all experiments, you’ve tested a lot of different ideas, right? I’m just wondering, where do you get inspiration for all of this, you know, growth ideas.

Junwen Lee 43:11
Right, right. So last thing, what other companies are doing, but that’s, that’s like, my tip, but typically, what really helps is identifying topics of interest, right? Because for yourself or for the audience, yeah. For for myself, okay. Yeah. So, so what, so, what I tend to do is when it comes into growth, so rather than look for, for growth hacks, right, we try to understand the concepts around how how, say, a particular channel skills, right, how a particular use case could be addressed by for example, right? And then, like, for example, Facebook advertising, right? various channels that how to growth hack the channel, right? Live Chat marketing, like automated sales, b2b, sales, marketing automation, right, how to how to grow this machine learning. And so these topics of interest will tend to tend to give us a much better understanding of how things work and the various levers, right. So So normally, the way the way I do it is I once identify the various topics of interest, and some of them end up being not super useful as I imagine, right. So So really the intent of gaining an overall view of the of the picture for the for the topic is the system and the real dynamics as quickly as possible, right? Often, this looks like a whole weekend of 100 browser tabs, right?

Ricky Willianto 44:37
The fun part, the fun part is like the exploration and like oh, like that’s interesting. Let’s check it out. You know, stage.

Junwen Lee 44:43
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And if you’re if you’ve read about if you go into Facebook ads, it’s like so many different things that you could be reading, right even core core guidelines, and all the other various growth hacks, right and books, with threats and more. And ultimately, you structure them all. To a framework on notion documents, which is normally very, very, very messy at first, right. But ultimately, what you’re trying to understand this is the this is this is the output it creates, right. And these are the key levers to generate the output. These are the various concepts they need to know. And these are examples of how people operate on those concepts and to those leaders, comments on how you see things as actionable or relevant to the business. And then once you identify which areas are relevant to your needs to dive in deeper, and then you dig even deeper, right? So for example, if it’s, if it’s like chatbots, right for them, and you see this potential profile, dig much deeper as to how to get actionable. You got to get get to doing as soon as possible to test the learnings.

Ricky Willianto 45:39
Yeah, so in a way, actually, you’re very organised in in coming up with all these ideas. So you’re thinking about like the objectives, you’re thinking about the fundamental reason why these things work, and you’re trying to like weave it in, or weave it together into something that can work for, you know, your context, whether it’s in cut up or a better florist. You actually quite organised on this. In a sense,

Junwen Lee 46:00
my notion document is just a mess. Okay, we all have,

Ricky Willianto 46:03
we all have the same notes, I guarantee you like my notes, my notes are like, just a mess as well.

Unknown Speaker 46:10
Okay. Okay. So

Ricky Willianto 46:10
the next question I have is what, you know, we talk about, like, you know, 10x and 5x in a company, right? How do you 10x and all we know, other things that you’ve done to 10x and 5x? yourself? Oh, no, that’s not very nice to 5x or 10x? yourself. I shouldn’t be like 10x or five x’s, it seems like it’s going down, I should get like 5x or 10x. itself.

Junwen Lee 46:34
Right, right. Right. Yeah. Yeah, that’s a good question. Because, right. So ultimately, the best investment you can do is your own learning, right, the better the stronger, you get at various skills and the right type of skills, right. And in some way, the right hand excuse is, I guess, related to both the relevance of the skill to your, to what you do that generates results at your company, right? Or your career and also powered by your curiosity or interest, right. So, so I tried to do in the context of that is to learn as broadly as possible, but, but diving deep, where I find matters as to what we talked about. So for example, even though I do product measurements, right, but I I try to learn as much as possible about our sales, my b2b sales, I try to learn as much as possible about data and ethics, even AI and machine learning. Right, so a lot of edges adjacent back to the topic adjacent. That could could synergize with you. And while making sure I stay as solid as possible in the in the core things I do. And then there’s nothing like intersections between between those topics, and more. Yeah, and

Ricky Willianto 47:45
I love how other agencies adjacency is like a recurring theme in our conversation today. But it’s kind of like, to me that is that is where you get, you know, your creative, right, that’s where you get new ideas. Because if you’re just trying to connect the dots within the same box, you will never be able to cannot find new insights. Right? So if you’re able to kind of see what other dots or water boxes, you can connect across this, you know, chasm, then I think that’s where, like, you know, you come up with truly new things.

Unknown Speaker 48:11
Exactly, yeah. Cool.

Ricky Willianto 48:13
Okay, let’s go into the quickfire round right now. So it’s a bunch of questions that I asked very quickly, and I need you to answer with the first thing that comes to mind. Okay, are you ready? All right, cool. What is the one metric you care most about now? retention? What is your favourite software to help you or your company grow?

Junwen Lee 48:34
segments and various analytics tools for us to get our insights from

Ricky Willianto 48:38
awesome and what is your favourite growth strategy or hacks

Junwen Lee 48:43
favourite growth strategy or hacks right so that there’s no one growth strategy or hack is really more about understanding how the system runs and then identifying the levers and and hitting those levers until we find like the width that compound

Ricky Willianto 48:57
got it love you love going to the fundamental and understanding the inner workings of you know the business and the system. Nice. What is your favourite go to resources for growth? This can be a book, a newsletter, a website, and other things.

Junwen Lee 49:09
Right, right. So the people I follow will be Randolph all from Kizzy winters from event brights, they’re the people from intercom right? Dattatreya Teresa Torres, Marty Kagan from from product, Silicon Valley product group and various other niche operators.

Ricky Willianto 49:27
How about like books newsletters podcasts? Do you actually look at those, you know, resources as well? And if so, like what are some of the favourite ones that you follow?

Junwen Lee 49:35
Yeah, so so those guys that that I mentioned, those people that I mentioned, they all they all either have various podcasts or the DF causes or effect. So for example, Brian Balfour from reforge says that they have the secret of course, this is the there’s there’s this really comprehensive right so that’s that’s really useful. And that’s trainer for me to come. They have tonnes of videos tonnes of podcast talks and they write a really good blog on Production growth.

Ricky Willianto 50:02
Awesome. Well check that out. And one final question. Who are some of your growth role models in Asia?

Junwen Lee 50:13
Right, so and so, who I really respect and admire people who are crushing it in marketing, yet also focusing on having a beginner’s mind and always learning always sharing learnings always questioning the fundamentals. Right. So while these guys would be the HubSpot, APAC Head of Marketing, Dave David salami, right. So he also runs a big marketers community, right? That’s where many people will come together to discuss marketing and generally geek out about it.

Ricky Willianto 50:41
Yeah, I know, David, David is a great guy. Thanks for sharing that. Actually, that question has done a lot of people. So you are the you’re, I think one of the first who’s been able to just get a name rolling off your tongue, which is great. And okay, final question. Sorry, what’s the best way to reach out to you? And who should reach out to you?

Junwen Lee 50:56
Right, right. So the best way to reach out to me would be just would be to hit me up on LinkedIn. Right? So anyone who wants to geek out on product growth, right? I share my learnings just like how we’re doing right now, or looking for even looking for some some like a brainstorm session, where we could just geek out and see where I can help right if you see that i and i FinTech and e commerce roof into experience, help online and I’m happy to do it, because in helping others, I find that I learn a lot better, as well.

Ricky Willianto 51:30
Sounds great. Thank you so much, everyone for the time today. Really appreciate the time and also really enjoyed the chat.

Junwen Lee 51:36
Really enjoyed to thank you.

Ricky Willianto 51:38
Thank you so much for listening to this podcast. Check out other episodes to hear more growth stories and hacks from experts who have been there. You can find our show on iTunes, Spotify, or via our website slash growth multiplier. See you next time.


About Growth Multiplier

The pursuit of growth is never-ending for any business – from a small startup all the way to a large global corporation. The Growth Multiplier podcast examines pathways, strategies, and hacks companies have explored and tested in their efforts to scale up their businesses. 

In each episode, host Ricky Willianto – co-founder of Ravenry – speaks with CEO’s, growth hackers, product managers, and marketers all around Asia to find nuggets of wisdom and insights from their journey multiplying growth. 

Ricky and his guests discuss viral marketing, community building, pricing strategies, channel development, and also company culture and people. Growth Multiplier explores not only replicable successes, but also phenomenal failures that we all can learn from.

Growth Multiplier is produced by the team behind Ravenry.

Other Growth Multiplier episodes

Building a mental health startup in Asia with Joan Low (ThoughtFull)

In this episode, Irzan Raditya talks about how he’s built into a leading B2B SaaS Startup in Indonesia. He talks about the importance of being laser focused on your vision, why he favors collaboration over competition in a market that relies on personal relationship, and why he thinks distribution trumps product market fit.

Ethical and sustainable design with Sebastian Mueller (MING Labs)

In this episode, Irzan Raditya talks about how he’s built into a leading B2B SaaS Startup in Indonesia. He talks about the importance of being laser focused on your vision, why he favors collaboration over competition in a market that relies on personal relationship, and why he thinks distribution trumps product market fit.

Subscribe to our newsletter for more interesting insights!

Send us your feedback!