Podcast 13: Hiten Shah, Product Genius Shares Secrets to Success
A few weeks ago, we interviewed online marketing guru Neil Patel. This week I talk to his other half, product guru Hiten Shah. Together they are responsible for epic great tools like KISSMetrics and CrazyEgg, and Hiten’s focus is on growth hacking and product engineering… how to create a great product.
Hiten just started a weekly newsletter that covers SaaS topics: SaaS Weekly that you should totally check out. In the mean time, here’s my interview with this great man.
Hiten Shah started all 3 of his internet companies, with Neil Patel, the first a consulting business in 2003. They took all the money they made, and tried to dump it into building products. This is how they met Lucas in a way. His really good friend worked with them at Crazy Egg, launched in 2005. It helped you see where people were clicking on a page with a heat page. This they self funded. While they were building that they decided to build KISSMetrics and get it funded. They have seen both sides of funding a project and getting funding for a project.
Advice To Find A Co-Founder (3:26)
Hiten’s situation is rare, however, you need to find someone that complements you. You know within a short period of time. If you’re not good at feeling people out, start working with someone and you will know if you get along.
How Do You Work With A Cofounder In A Different Location? (5:02)
There is a lot of things in writing, form email, google docs and other apps. They talk on the phone or skype several times. It is about communication, Hiten tells us.
How do you split up responsibilities? (6:10)
They split up some things, and share the things they both deeply care about. The things they split up, they do what they are good at and have specific tasks to complete, some of which they love doing.
Hiten’s Earliest Traumatic Memory (7:21)
This a great question for early startups or interviews. This a great question for anyone. If you ask it as a first question in an interview and they are not comfortable, they can be a little bit inappropriate or off putting. Hiten has a way of making people feel comfortable by trying to quickly understand them. You can just talk to them and try and understand how they think about things, and then decide if the question is worth asking.
Hiten’s earliest traumatic memory could have been when they lost about a million dollars on a product that never launched. However, he thinks the earliest traumatic moment was really when he was 8 years old, his mother passed away. She had a terminal disease, from about the time he was 2, therefore he was prepared, and he never cried that day. It never really registered as traumatic from an outward physical standpoint, but from a mental standpoint, he can’t think of anything worse.
Why Do You Do Startups? (9:50)
Since Hiten was 5 years old his Dad told him he shouldn’t work for anyone. He told him to get married early, and these are the two things he listened to. Hiten really believes everyone has the potential to start something, he likes to help them and it is really awesome that he can.
His motivation is that he likes seeing things grow. He has a fascination in manipulating plants, and he has a couple a year he experiments with. He read up a bit, and has a garden in his backyard. He learned if you shake a plant vigorously, it causes the hormones of the plant to go all over the shoots. It works, and he gets a lot of little peppers that he wouldn’t get otherwise. He likes that you can influence them, and help them grow. If you notice plants in windy areas, they do better in windy areas and you only have to do it a few times. It gets him up in the morning, watching things grow.
SaaS Weekly (13:30)
He had a domain, Hiten.com that was just sitting there. He has always been good at finding links and likes to share them. He curated the links and put them into a newsletter. He wishes there was more content when he started his businesses. Now he feels there is so much, it is helpful to know where to find good information. He uses curated.by to run his newsletter. That product saves him 1-2 hours a week.
How To Do A Great Product Launch (16:20)
Hiten tells us that Lucus may be able to answer this question! Some advice Hiten gives us about having a great product launch; build a list of people that are interested in what you are doing early, validate the problem and build that email list. The more people that are interested or even have tried the product the better. For Crazyegg they had 23,000 emails people on an email list. They had spent some money on adds, it was more difficult years ago to get those people on your list. Sending people weekly emails to keep them updated and keeping them involved is helpful in a product launch. Find out how you can have people come along on the journey with you.
Lucas had an idea for a product and he started blogging about it and receiving emails 10 months before the launch. The entire time they were developing it and engineering it, they were working on the launch.
Top 3 Mistakes Founders Make (19:10)
They build things people don’t want. They don’t asses the market need and figure out if people care about it. They have an idea, they have a pain or a problem they want to solve and they don’t take the time to see if anyone else gives a shit. Talk to people about themselves, and look for pain. Don’t talk about your product, just listen and make sure enough people have the same pain. Ideas are just a solution, you need to appreciate the problem. People think they need money. Money won’t solve peoples problems. People don’t understand what scaling a business looks like. How do you figure out who you need to hire, how to grow it as fast as you can. Ask yourself where the biggest bottlenecks are. Figure out how to hire the people you need.
How To Hire Great People (23:40)
Hiten shares his advice on how he hires. He emails everyone on a directory related to his business and chose the one that seemed able to help solve the problems.
What really matters, is that your team can work with them. Some companies do trial periods, or have a project to work on together. You need to hire people that your employees get along with.
Best Advice Hiten Has About Starting A Company (26:23)
Just do it. Start anything: start a blog post, start an email letter or start tweeting about it.
Growth Hacks (26:56)
Growth hacking is an evolution of marketing. Growth teams are teams focused on growth. A Growth hacker is very early stage, when you need someone on the ground working on a product. Growth hacking, is a combination of improving your product, optimising conversions and marketing. growthhackers.com is a site with a ton of stuff. It is a great way to think about marketing more from a technology perspective and how technology and your product can help you grow or do marketing.
It is what Hiten calls engineered marketing, with an end goal of growing the business, no hacks from him today.
Inspiring Books Hiten Has Read (30:45)
The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger (Author), Michael Starbird (Author) He loves to google things, no more plant books! Forester marketing pdf is a great resource as well.
Next On Hitens Journey (34:00)
He wants to keep growing his businesses and get better each day.
Contact Information (34:20)
How you can get people to along the journey with you, while launching a product with @hnshah #CraftsmanFounder
Just start anything; start a blog post, start an email letter or start tweeting about something. @hnshah #CraftsmanFounder
Audio mastering by Fiverr’s ariacreative
Show notes written by Fiverr’s ginakane
About the Author
Lucas Carlson is a hands-on consultant, author and entrepreneur. He helps founders discover opportunities for growth, both for their companies and for themselves. He was the CEO and founder of AppFog, a popular startup acquired in 2013 after signing up over 100,000 developers and raising nearly $10M in venture funding from top angels and VCs.