Neal O’Grady on hiring, growing, and what PMs can learn from copywriters
Product State Q&A
Neal O’Grady is the co-founder of Demand Curve (YC S19) and Bell Curve.
EC: You’re running two companies. What’s been the key to growing them sustainably?
NO’G: I’d say it’s a combination of a few things.
First, we’re conservative with our cash. No big bonuses. No Superbowl ads. We’re cautious with hiring. And we use No-Code and third-party tools as much as possible.
We’ve always wanted cash reserves in case the economy slowed. Good thing we did.
Second, we’ve always focused on organic growth by putting out high-quality content. We’ve never been reliant on ads. Instead, we’ve focused on things that compound over time.
Third, we hired someone I completely trust to run and build the agency even if I was hit by a bus. Upon meeting him, I realized I had no right running a marketing agency when someone like him exists in the world.
The team you surround yourself with is critical.
EC: What’s the hardest part of being a founder — and what would you do differently if you could?
NO’G: Sometimes I think it must be nice to have a regular job where you know what you’re supposed to do because someone else has made that decision.
As a founder, you have near-infinite options and are in a constant state of uncertainty. And random fires pop up all the time.
And you don’t have the luxury of saying, ‘this isn’t my job.’ Even if you hate doing it, you still have to talk to the lawyer or accountant because no one else will.
That being said, I discovered long ago that these were trade-offs I was happy to make.
In terms of what I’d do differently… if I could rewind time I’d do a few things:
#1: Take organic social media (like LinkedIn) as seriously as I do now. It compounds.
#2: Put a lot more effort into hiring A+ people. The difference between a C+ player and an A+ player is 100x.
#3: Put aside time each week to meet new people and build relationships. Some of the biggest opportunities we’ve had at DC+BC has been through relationship building.
EC: What can PMs learn from top copywriters and content marketers?
NO’G: A PM needs to
Articulate clearly to their team what the user’s problems are, and what they need to solve it.
Convince the team that those problems are important.
Make sure everyone on the team is aligned.
The more effectively they can do that, the better the product will be for users.
Copywriting is the key to doing that.
In a way, you’re an internal content marketer. Your team is the audience. And you educate them about users, their goals, their needs, their pain points, and the product necessary to satisfy them.
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