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Patrick Coleman

VP of Growth at Replit

18 Insights · 6 Questions · 10min Read · 12min Listen · Connect with Patrick on LinkedIn

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Bias to action. Seek pain. The best way to keep up as the market evolves? Be a perpetual beginner. Start with pricing. Know your persona. Let users realize some of the value before you ask them to pay, but still run a go-to-market motion. Freemium and product-led growth models.

What are 3 ways that your team converts your market into revenue?

1) Today, we're making money from individuals and businesses via our Hacker and Pro plans.

2) We recently made our education product free so we can help every student around the world learning to code. The idea behind that was part of our mission to bring the next billion coders online. It's really important to us to be able to make Replit the default entry-to-programming experience. There are so many people around the world without access to expensive computers and powerful systems, and we just want to help every student and teacher around the world. Coding is a superpower, and we think more people should have it.

3) In the future, we are excited about helping creators make money directly on Replit. A really cool story recently is that a young man in India who learned to code, and he builds on Replit, made more money in a month than his family made in an entire year. So these types of stories from our community are just really encouraging and we want to help even more of that to happen.

What are 3 hard problems that you recently overcame?

This is tough. This took me a little time to kind of think through.

1) Deciding to make our education product free was a pretty tough decision. It was performing well for us. But as our Hacker plan, which is for individuals, and the Pro plan revenue has been growing, we reflected more deeply on our mission to bring a billion coders online, and we knew this was the right thing to do. Anytime you do a big change like this, there's a little bit of anxiety and trepidation, but since we had made the announcement, the feedback has just been incredibly positive. It was only about a week ago that we made the announcement and we did. just a blowout week in terms of the reception, and number of signups, for our education products, so I'm very encouraged by that.

2) We just put on our first-ever user conference, and a big part of the user conference was a crowdfunding campaign that we announced with WeFunder to let our community also participate in our upside. To make that happen was just an all-out sprint from the marketing team, the product team, Amjad our CEO, finance, legal, everybody was just all hands on deck to get this out in a record fast amount of time. And then, just great validation from the community. The round was oversubscribed in less than 24 hours.

3) Over the past couple of years, we've seen a lot of professional users signing up for Replit. It wasn't really our initial plan to go build a product for professionals, but we started talking to these users and learning all of the really exciting ways that they're using Replit for everything from pair programming to technical interviewing to rapid prototyping. I could go on, but we ended up collecting excitement and interest via a waitlist, and then we ran a months-long closed alpha to just get tons of direct user feedback, and really dig into where the pain points were and what we could do to improve things. When we were able to finally launch the product to the public, reception was really fantastic as well, and we've got some big, big fans in the professional engineering community, too.

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What are 3 roadblocks that you are working on now?

1) Even though we've made our education product free very recently, we still need to run a go-to-market motion to convince schools and teachers to use Replit. I think there's going to be some challenges with this, as well. The world is moving towards a lot more cloud and browser-based tools, and I think Figma is a great example of this in design, Google Docs, obviously, things are changing, but I think the coding world, in some ways, and particularly in the education side of things, has not entirely caught up to this yet. Not only are we needing to encourage people to use Replit, but also educating them on the benefits of working in the browser. When teachers come around, when they see this, and when the students get to experience using a tool like Replit, the feedback is just phenomenal. One of the most encouraging things is people being able to code on Chromebooks or mobile devices. They are a lot cheaper and more accessible. It just makes it so much easier for teachers to reach more students, particularly as coding gets to be a required subject in more and more places.

2) Hiring. I would be remiss if I didn't mention hiring. We are hiring as fast as we can, but we still can't hire fast enough. So I'll just do a quick plug. If anyone listening is excited about our mission, please apply! We would love to talk.

3) While our team was small and scrappy, and we were primarily growing via word of mouth, we neglected some of the more traditional, marketing, growth hacking, or acquisition channels. Search was one of these that we were performing very well on, but didn't give a lot of our mindshare to, and now that we're growing the team and really digging into a lot of like thefunnel metrics and traditional marketing and growth tactics, this is an area where I think there's a lot of room to grow Replit even faster. So that's going to be an area where I and my team are going to spend a lot of time in the coming six months to a year.

What are 3 mental models that you use to do your best work?

I really love this question.

1) Bias to action. I deeply believe that moving quickly, but with focus, is the best way to fight both procrastination and perfectionism. It's rare that decisions cannot be reversed. Sometimes you have big decisions that can't be reversed and you should really plan for these. But most decisions are reversible. And for these decisions, speed is very much of the essence.

2) Seek pain. This is part of our cultural values and operating principles at Replit I’m a big fan of this. We really believe that you can't learn unless you're shipping real things to real people, ad then you're digging into what's not working, and go fix it. I think our default mental attitude is to avoid hard things and look for the easy path, I'm really happy to be part of a company where we normalize that things aren't going to be easy all the time, and the best way to move forward and to grow, both as a business and professionally as individuals, is to dig into what's not working, where there's a little bit of pain. Apply that growth mindset. Keep iterating and improving.

3) The idea of beginner's mind. At startups, things change so, so fast that often your old mental models about the way the world works, about the way that you should operate—I love Andrew Chen's Law of Shitty Clickthroughs—in marketing, what worked a year ago, or 10 years ago, is not necessarily going to keep working. So having that beginner's mindset, always approaching things from first principles, is the best way to keep up as the market evolves, and it's kind of fun to be a perpetual beginner and in wonder of the way that the business, and the world, is constantly evolving.

What are 3 techniques that GTM teams need to try?

1) Start with pricing. Something that I've picked up on, and I'm a big fan of, is when you're building and launching products, and selling products, start with pricing. So, pricing should come first. I think a key to our early growth in education was pricing the product at an appropriate level so that teachers could really easily—and the free trial experience was a big part of this—try this out, use it, and then encourage other teachers in their school to use it, and that they could get it approved at their schools without needing to go through a lengthy approval process. So doing a bit of customer research, and then knowing your market, before running a lot of crazy pricing experiments, or trying to put a product out there first, I think will be really useful and drive a lot of growth.

2) Freemium and product-led growth models. We're also a really big fan of freemium and product-led growth models. So I think letting your users realize some of the value before asking them to pay is a really smart thing to do. This is why we're seeing more and more businesses shift to this approach. It's the same thing in a more traditional enterprise sales model too. If you wat to get the next meeting, if you want to get the close, you have to give, you have to give a little bit of value too. You got to provide some information. You got to provide some impact that you're going to expect your customers to have so that they know this is going to be worth their time. This has worked really well for us with our freemium model.

3) Knowing your persona is really key. Different audiences respond to different tactics. I mean, this is a bit obvious, but it really helps to remember this. We can reach the young coders on Discord and TikTok. We're not gonna be able to reach their teachers or the professionals there as well. I think it's easy when you're sprinting, and you're in this lean startup mode, and you just want to like put out MVPs really fast, to lose track of, “Who exactly are you building for?” I think one of the hardest things to do is in a startup is to stay focused. Knowing exactly who you want to build for, and which customers are not an ideal fit for you right now, is really important. It will help you not get into the this failure mode of trying to do too many things at once

Who are 3 operators that should be our next guests and why?

1) Antoine Buteau. I think I'm allowed one from my company, so I want to give a shout out to Antoine Buteau on my team who leads BizOps for us. Just super sharp. Started his career as an engineer and then was a strategy consultant for software businesses. Just a brilliant go-to-market operator.

2) Shri Apte. VP of Revenue at TripleByte. Great guy and TripleByte is a fantastic business. We’re big fans of really anybody operating in the space to make it easier for more people to get jobs in coding and realize the benefits of the internet economy. Big, big fans.

2) Megan. The last person I want to give a shout out to, I'm still waiting for her okay to share her details, but her name is Megan, and she worked at another education software company when I was just getting started in my last startup, which was my first startup ever. She was both a friend, and a therapist, and shared so many little tips of business operations and go-to-market wisdom with me that I don't think I would be having nearly as much success as I had if not for her.

So, these are some folks that I would highly recommend chatting with.

Work with Patrick → Replit is hiring!

April 2022 · Interview by Chris Morgan, Host of Market-to-Revenue

Market-to-Revenue Podcast ⚡️ Lightning-fast interviews with GTM operators in sales, success, product, and marketing.

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Patrick Coleman
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