Maximizing Shots on Goal: The Key to Growth and Retention

Matt Bilotti


Product Lead


Matt Bilotti
Matt Bilotti

Episode Summary

Today on the show we have Matt Bilotti, the product lead for consumer LP and growth at AngelList.

In this episode, Matt shares his experience in venture capital investing and how he managed to hustle his way to manage the dorm room fund.

We then dive into the topic of growth and retention at AngelList, discussing the challenges and strategies they employ to keep LPs engaged and drive growth.

Matt also shares insights from his time at Drift and the importance of experimentation and reducing friction in the customer journey.

Tune in to this episode to learn valuable lessons about growth and retention in the startup and venture capital space.

Rhythm of War

Mentioned Resources



Matt's background and managing the dorm room fund00:01:21
The role of LPs and growth at AngelList00:06:21
Increasing frequency of usage for LPs00:11:49
Key ingredients for Drift's early success00:19:22
Retaining employees in a fast-growing company00:23:43
Crazy experiments in growth at Drift00:29:03
The importance of increasing shots on goal00:32:55
Matt's future plans in the investment industry00:34:15


00:00:00 Matt Bilotti: Take more shots on goal, remind yourself that you're probably gonna be wrong, and that that's okay, and focus on the systems that you use to operate because the better your system, the more likely that you're gonna produce results out of the other end. It's one thing to just try a bunch of experiments, but we found this at Drift, as soon as we built a cohesive system around it, where we were properly scoring and grading the opportunities that we thought that we can implement. All of that helped us increase our velocity, which increased the likelihood that we were gonna find something that worked.

00:00:38 VO: How do you build a habit-forming products? And you saw this different… Don't just gun for revenue in the door.

00:00:45 Andrew Michael: This is Churn.FM, the podcast for subscription economy pros. Each week, we hear how the world's fastest growing companies are tackling churn and using retention to fuel their growth. 

00:00:58 VO: How do you build a habit-forming products? We crossed over that magic threshold to negative churn. You need to invest in customer success. It always comes down to retention and engagement. Completely bootstrap, profitable, and growing. 

00:01:11 Andrew Michael: Strategies, tactics and ideas brought together to help your business thrive in the subscription economy. I'm your host, Andrew Michael, and here's today's episode. 

00:01:21 Andrew Michael: Hey, Matt, welcome to the show.

00:01:23 Matt Bilotti: Thanks for having me.

00:01:24 Andrew Michael: It's great to have you. For the listeners, Matt is the product lead for consumer LP and growth at AngelList, building the infrastructure where capital, creativity and hardware come together to accelerate innovation. Matt is also an angel investor and startup advisor, a partner at Hypergrowth Partners, and has held roles at companies like Drift and HubSpot. So my first question for you today is, how did you manage to hustle your way to manage the dorm room fund? I tried to click on the link earlier and I see it's been disconnected, so I was keen to learn about that.

00:01:54 Matt Bilotti: Yeah, so that's going back to my days in college. So as context, dorm room fund is a team of students that invest in student-run companies backed by a venture capital fund called First Round Capital. And when I was in school in Boston, I ended up as the managing partner for, Boston team for a couple of years. And that was really just like, when I was in school, I was just going to every entrepreneurship, you know, investor type event that was available to students or the broader community here in Boston, and I kind of just found my way into it.

00:02:29 Andrew Michael: It's interesting. Like, so you started out, like very, very early on in the space and you've sort of come back to it as well, all throughout your career, different phases and different stages. Obviously spending a lot of time in, product as well. So having that deep knowledge and deep expertise and then bringing that now back again to work on products, but for investment. So it's super interesting to see the background and how it got you where you are today. We were chatting before the show and when I reached out, you sort of said, Hey, like, I just want to be upfront as well.

00:03:02 Andrew Michael: Churn and retention is not, like, one of the big topics for us because typically, like, once we get an LP or we get an investor that signs up with us, they pretty much stick with us for the duration of their fund or for their investment cycle. And I said, yes, obviously it's not a problem for us to discuss. I think there's many businesses out there similar to this, where once you get them in their door, they tend to be extremely sticky. So you can think about infrastructure products. It's not something you just want to pull out at the end of the day, but then there are other aspects when we think about, like net revenue retention or how, increase engagements and expansion in these accounts. So today I'm excited to chat with you about that. And for context, maybe you could just give us a little bit of an overview of your role and your focus.

00:03:42 Matt Bilotti: Yeah, sure. So as mentioned, my role is on the product side. So I work on a lot of our LP facing product experiences. So just to do a quick zoom out and explain Angelus products and ecosystem. AngelList is a platform for fund managers to run their funds. So if someone is launching a $25 million venture capital fund, they can use AngelList as the platform, their fund admin and all their back office stuff to run their fund and handle their investors and distributions and all that stuff. On the other side of that, there's like the end user of those funds, which is the investor or the LP. So the limited partner that's investing in those funds. So there's the fund managers basically make, these, like, big decisions to go with AngelList because it's effectively a lifetime of the fund decision and the lifetime of a lot of funds is 10 plus years.

00:04:40 Matt Bilotti: And so there's not a lot of like retention work with those folks. It's really a lot of effort upfront to make sure they're educated on all the services and offerings that we do provide for them. And then on the investor side, there's like two categories of investors on AngelList. There's the investors that those fund managers bring in. So, you know, fund manager launches a fund and they talk to a CEO that they've worked with before, and they bring them in as an investor, and they go through the Angel's platform to close their investment into the fund and manage that investment. That's kind of like the general partner's investor. Then there's the other type of investor which shows up directly into AngelList and says, I wanna invest in early stage startups or funds. And so those people sign up, they get into our platform, they find funds to invest in, they find deal by deal investments to invest in.

00:05:28 Matt Bilotti: And so with those types of LPs, we are often trying to find, like other opportunities to provide them. How can we get them access to other funds or other deals that they can invest in? So kind of a bunch of different stakeholders going around. And then we, recently, to make it even a little bit more, more of an ecosystem, we have launched a few standalone software products for fund managers. So the idea behind those is, you know, a fund. $100 million fund might not want to use AngelList for everything that is included, but they might want to use it for a specific thing like banking, we release a treasury product for banking, or they might use us for portfolio projections or things of that sort. So there's the customers for the long-term fund stuff, there's these new customers for the individual products, and then there's the investors, which have two different types.

00:06:21 Andrew Michael: Very interesting. And thank you very much for that breakdown. I think it was just good to understand a little bit from that perspective. So when you think in the context of your role, then today where you're focused on LP and growth on the limited partner side, you mentioned these two aspects to it, one where somebody brings them into the platform, a fund manager. And that's this year. And then the other one is that one comes to AngelList. Your focus then on LPs. How does growth come into that and in what aspects are you trying to grow that aspect of the business? Because it's really just like inbound. What is your role there?

00:06:59 Matt Bilotti: Yeah. So we'll think about it in the two different types of LPs. So the LPs are the investors that are coming in from the fund managers. Our goal, there, is really how do we provide those investors, those LPs the best possible experience because if they have a great experience, then that means the fund managers are happy. And if that experience over the lifetime of their first fund is great, the first fund that they run with us, then it's more likely that they're going to use us for a second or third fund that they might be spending up. So for that type of LP, it's all about like, how do we make that experience as seamless as possible? How do we make the LP have a good experience so that they're happy with the fund manager and their decision to use AngelList? And so it's kind of all about like, what is that LP is, onboarding experience?

00:07:49 Matt Bilotti: Like what is the initial touch point that they get from the fund manager? How do they go and find more info about the fund and go through the closing process? So the closing process into a fund is pretty complicated because it involves an investor providing all the information around the entity that they're investing from. So whether that they're investing from a trust or their individual account or from another fund there's all sorts of data collection that has to happen there, and it gets really complicated. And so we have spent a lot of time and energy trying to make that as seamless and as straightforward as possible and sort of as bulletproof as possible. You can imagine that the way that that works is like a deeply complex tree of logic of different information that we need to collect if it's this type of LLC, and there's all sorts of stuff there. So we've spent a lot of time making that kind of as smooth an experience as possible.

00:08:41 Matt Bilotti: So that's sort of on the investors that a fund manager brings inside. And that's again, like the goal there, the long-term goal is how do we make the experience as good as possible so that the fund managers are really happy with that experience and then either go ahead and cross-sell over to some of the other products, the other individual products we've released, or they use us again for a next fund and so on. For the investors that are showing up to AngelList and saying, I want to invest in early stage startups, a lot of, of course, are trying to make their experience as smooth as possible. And so all of the work that we do for those investors on the fund manager side, are gonna work just the same for those individuals that are showing up. But there's also this question of these folks are showing up and their intention is to invest in interesting startups or interesting funds.

00:09:33 Matt Bilotti: And so the question that we have consistently asked there is, how do we provide those folks more opportunities? So there's a couple of browse experiences that we have in the platforms where they can browse some of the rolling funds that are offered on AngelList. And so over the past six to 12 months, we've gone through and sort of, like rebuilt that browse experience from the ground up to make certain information that those investors care about more accessible.

00:10:00 Matt Bilotti: Make it easier to filter, make it easier to find them. We have also made it so, without getting too into the weeds, there's a couple different types of funds, and some funds can be marketed publicly. They can be on a marketing website, and an investor can just find and invest. There are other funds that have specific regulations where they cannot be marketed publicly, and they can only be marketed sort of in a one-on-one context and to investors where there is a pre-existing relationship. And so the question that we sort of asked is given that we have a pre-existing relationship with all of these investors, like what are the opportunities that we have within the legal and compliance restraints to give those investors access to those types of funds and whatnot?

00:10:47 Matt Bilotti: So we released another opportunity for investors to browse venture funds that they otherwise would not have had access to. So when you sign up as an investor on AngelList, you can get approved to invest in certain types of deals or funds. And now with a certain level of approval, those investors can invest in funds that they otherwise had no way of accessing because we have established that pre-existing relationship with them. So that looked like there is a new tab in our product offering called Funds where folks can browse funds that again, they otherwise would not have been able to access, to. So that's like a lot of the crux of the growth opportunities that we have focused on is how do we get those investors that are here to deploy capital into interesting startups and funds access to more opportunities to do so. And make those opportunities more clear and make it easier for them to, like find their way to them and make it easier for them to get the information that they need in order to make an investment decision.

00:11:49 Matt Bilotti: Because the reality is like with the long-term retention of investors, if an investor invests into a fund on AngelList, all of that is handled on AngelList, right? They own a part of a vehicle that is hosted on AngelList, and it's not like they're gonna pick it up and go somewhere else. And so it's really about how do we help? And it's different than, so I come from a B2B SaaS background where this standard approach is you have a customer, how do you cross-sell that customer to purchase additional features or add more users or spend more money, right? Drive net retention and drive revenue growth. Whereas here it's not like we can't just, like expect an investor to invest more money, right? It's not like that's a thing that is, they're not like buying more of our software. They're not like getting additional features. They're making their own personal investment decisions.

00:12:42 Matt Bilotti: And so it's all just about like the more that we can give them access to the types of opportunities that they would want, the higher likelihood that they are going to deploy more capital on the platform and engage with other funds or opportunities.

00:12:55 Andrew Michael: Yeah, there's not sort of like a natural progression where increased usage increases demand and like a clear expansion path. I think those, well, what comes to mind just listening to talk as well, and I could see potentially being an issue would be sort of the frequency of usage. And thinking through it as well, it doesn't feel like it's a product that you would use all the time or come back to regularly. And I think somebody, like companies, like Zillow, face challenges like this where, you buy a house once, you don't keep coming back to the platform. And then they obviously introduced quite cleverly, like the Zillow estimator, where once you bought a house, you can come back and you can check the valuation of your house and that sort of kept them top of mind to increase that frequency of usage.

13:45 Andrew Michael: How do you think about that and the frequency of usage of the LPs and bringing people back to the platform? Obviously one way is presenting them with a whole bunch of opportunities that could be exciting, but have you thought about other ways for AngelList to bring them back and increase in frequency?

00:14:01 Matt Bilotti: Yeah, so a couple of thoughts here. One is there's a few natural structural touch points such as tax forms. So tax forms are put into the product and it's just like a forcing mechanism where those LPs have to come to the product to access their tax form. So there's a couple like legal compliance driven type things there that drive people to log in. And so part of it is like when they do show up for those reasons that there is clarity on hey, there's some other stuff that you can look at to potentially invest in. The other thing is there is a parallel you can think of is people are building a portfolio of investments.

00:14:41 Matt Bilotti: And the same way that like a consumer app investing in individual stocks like a Robinhood or Charles Schwab, people like even if you're not actively investing, I know I am guilty of this. I'm opening my Charles Schwab account basically every single day to see like, how are my stocks moving and how's my portfolio moving? Now, of course, in the private markets and in angel investments and fund investments, stuff is not moving every single day. But there is this, like, very natural tendency, be, interested in, oh, how are my investments doing? Have any of my investments been marked up? Have any of them unfortunately gone to zero? Have any of them exited? Has there been a distribution? So there is the natural tendency to show up to want to check out that stuff.

00:15:28 Matt Bilotti: And so the focus is when someone logs in, there's big numbers on the dashboard, there's a visual chart that shows, here's how much you've invested over time, here's the current value of that investment over time. Here are the distributions you've had over time. Here's your multiple compared to other benchmarks. So your multiple is like 2.2 X versus, the standard is 1.8 or whatever it might be for whatever industry. It's all about like, how do we give them the quick insight into what's going on? And then again, like helping them find other opportunities when they do show up, that might be a fit for them.

00:16:05 Andrew Michael: Interesting. I mentioned at the beginning of the show as well that you're a partner in hyper growth partners and I'm assuming as well that's from time spent with G, Guilliaume Cabane at Drift, also a previous guest of the show and so like probably one of my favorite episodes as well. I loved, like, how super geeky and technical G gets when you have chats. I'm intrigued as well. Like what would you say is like one of the biggest parallels you have between Drift and AngelList and maybe what's the biggest difference?

00:16:33 Matt Bilotti: So yeah, at first G is so fun. I love spending my time with him. I learned so much from him. He's very much like a mad scientist in the way that he approaches stuff. We create all sorts of, like fun, fascinating, like growth experiments over at Drift. Some of the parallels, I think at the end of the day, like software businesses with a really high bar, like high quality bar of hiring talent are just great places to work at.

00:17:05 Matt Bilotti: Like I have found that the types of people that wanna work at fast growing, interesting businesses are just people that I wanna be around and I wanna work with. And so, similar to the same concept of like how much I learned from G when I was at Drift, I feel like there are those types of people here at AngelList where I have an opportunity to learn from them and say like this person is one of the best people at this type of job that I've ever seen.

00:17:36 Matt Bilotti: And it's likely we have some of the best in the world at that thing. Like at Drift, we had some of the best in the world at marketing, B2B marketing. And at AngelList, we have some of the best in the world. And like financial engineers, like our financial engineers that like, handle all the backend systems. Like I look at the stuff that they're posting and then the ways that they're building, like the distribution models to handle like these legal use cases and the specific type of, you know, structural fund. Like there's all sorts of crazy stuff there. So the parallels are a really high bar of people that I just learned so much from. Differences, I think AngelList is a much more flat structure of a team. Like I have found that the way that people work as a result of that is different. Like for example, at Drift, we had like product teams were pods and they were often.

00:18:29 Matt Bilotti: Like a pod was a product manager, designer, a tech lead, and the tech lead either, was specialized in backend or front end, and then two engineers. And it was almost always a backend engineer and a front end engineer. Whereas the AngelList, like all the engineers, except for some of them, like financial engineering folks, are full stack. So it's like a lot of the work that gets done is an engineer is gonna own the thing end to end. And so like my role and product is much more working with like an individual person to drive a project forward versus at Drift, it was much more of like a team model where we were working as a team. And not to say there's not like team aspects of working in AngelList, I very much think it's like, it's one big team of people that are just like consistently and dynamically shifting between teams to get their work done. But I found that to be a difference. And, you know-

00:19:22 Andrew Michael: That's interesting. You could probably see it from the type of product as well, and the work required and the specialization in terms of like, really needing super technical skills, maybe on the front end of Drift, where it's less likely it's needed at AngelList. And yeah, very nice. So you mentioned as well, working with G, the mad scientist, you had a lot of great experiments you ran there. You worked in growth, obviously for many years. And I'm interested as well. If we could go back to that time, if I can jog your memory back as well, and talk about those days, Drift, obviously, as you mentioned, had probably some of the best B2B marketers in the world. I think in terms of growth as well, like it grew unbelievably fast. And a lot of that has come down to the growth team itself as well. What do you think was, some of the key ingredients that led to that early success?

00:20:13 Matt Bilotti: I think one of the big things was for context for listeners, I was a Drift, I was one of the first employees that joined. So kind of, got to see the whole journey from, first few employees to about 600 people. And I think one of the biggest things early on was, there are a couple of things. One, we had a really aggressive culture of consistent shipping of new products. So if you go to product time and you search Drift, you'll find like 25 or 30 different individual product launches that we had because our approach for the first couple of years was the first Tuesday of every single month we were going to launch a new product.

00:20:50 Matt Bilotti: And it was that cadence that forced us to consistently test a new feature angle in the market or a new value proposition or test against a new persona that maybe we hadn't built for before. And it was just that very constant hitting the market and getting real time feedback from the market that allowed us to find our way to something that hit and it was always very clear, like three out of four launches didn't really hit much, but sometimes they did, and it was really fascinating when the product launch that hit wasn't necessarily even a new feature. But it was just sort of like a repackaging of something, of a couple things that we already had, but it was Drift for Enterprise, like Drift 2.0, or when we launched the chatbot, it was all of a sudden like people were showing up saying, I want more, I want access.

00:21:39 Matt Bilotti: The market started to pull it from us. And so I think a really aggressive testing, and that existed for years, that whole, we launched a new product, and in the early days, it was two or three product teams, and they were launching a new product once a month, once every two months. And then ultimately, it was six, seven, eight, nine product teams, and teams have one launch a year, and so the stress on each individual team went down. But I think it was really, really critical for us. I had a second thing. I'm trying to remember what the second thing was, but maybe we can move on with the conversation or come back to me.

00:22:015 Andrew Michael: Yeah, no, the first thing is fascinating as well, to think. And one thing struck me as well was just sort of not necessarily being anything new as well, sometimes just repackaging and bringing things together in a different way. I think more often than not as well, like this is a very mis-underused tactic and a way to understand, like we often launch things are… that didn't work and then we move on to the next thing, like very, too fast.

00:22:39 Andrew Michael: And sometimes it's just like, take all it takes is like a little bit of repositioning, repackaging, and introducing a new way, even just updating onboarding for the experience to make it a little bit more streamlined and easier for people to understand. I've definitely been guilty of this in the past. So it's fascinating that you were there through this entire journey as well. Like over six years, the team must have changed tremendously over time. And I think what's often like a mis-underrepresented skill is like, normally you would have what I like calls like the changing of the guards. I think somebody mentioned this to me once before as well, where you have your early stage employees who are like the first 10, 20, 15, 30 people. And then over time, as you started 70, 80, 100, 120, like the first 20, 30 pretty much have almost all gone by then barring the founders. And then it's just sort of like this constant cycle. How did you manage to keep engaged and to keep going over the six years, obviously, I think because there's a certain type of personality that enjoys the earlier stage. And what do you think it was that kept you at the company for so long?

00:23:43 Matt Bilotti: Yeah, that's a great question. And I had asked myself this all the time. I think it was so I gained the trust of the founders early and I found that over time, they just continued to entrust me with new opportunities. So, you know we needed to spin up a customer support team. We weren't ready to hire a customer support lead. Matt, go figure it out. And then I ran our customer support team for two years and hired all these remote folks. And so it was constantly that. And we hired Guillaume, G to run growth. And we were starting to move from, I worked on every single part of the product to I own this part of the product.

00:24:24 Matt Bilotti: And it was very much like, hey, Matt, G is a little bit all over the place and needs someone that's like, organized and can help them execute with all of it, why don't you go work there? And so that was like a renewal of opportunity. Like I had initially joined Drift mainly, on the intention of I wanna go somewhere where I can learn how to build a company and learn all the different stages of building a company. So, like my starting point was different. Like my context was like, I want to see all the stages. And so as we were changing stages, I was constantly, you know, everyone who worked with me, everyone who managed me, like knew that that was my MO. And so like, I had a VP of product for a while that I reported to Craig, he knew that. And so he was always looking for, oh, this thing, like, we have this Drift for Startups business line, no one's focusing on it, Matt, why don't you go figure that out? And so it was, gained trust by like, just going all in in the early days.

00:25:22 Matt Bilotti: And then the people around me and the folks managing me and the founders like consistently just looking for that's a new thing. That's really interesting. And me saying like, Hey, can I go work on that? And be like, sure, go ahead. And just kind of like jumping into whatever needed help.

00:25:38 Andrew Michael: I think it's amazing when you have leadership like that, that understands, sort of the individual and gives them the freedom and flexibility to work in the business. I think I was very fortunate as well. Previously working at Hot Show, we had a similar arrangement and was sort of like, whenever I saw a problem, I could present a business case and what I needed. And it was sort of like, every time I say sure, go ahead and do it. Pretty much. I think that's what kept me also going. I didn't last as long as you did six years, but for me, I think like the three and a half years, almost four years was quite a bit longer than normal. And it was just Julie due to that, just being… be able to engage in different aspects of the business. And again, like I think David this year at the time when I went to Malta, met his parents and like the way he introduced me to his mother, always like it just stood me in my head.

00:26:19 Andrew Michael: It was like. We have Andrew on borrowed time. He's an entrepreneur and he's here with us for a while. And I was thinking, what does that mean for me? Like my prospects working at the company or like this is like in one year, like in year one or whatever. So, but then I was later to realize like it really was a blessing because I got to learn so much from this perspective and then having that understanding that I could just move around.

00:26:40 Matt Bilotti: Yeah. And on that note, before we move on, I very much know that the like standard is like two years at a place and whenever I get an opportunity to stress this to folks early in their career, like it's one thing to be in a toxic work environment and you want to leave. But like being able to spend many years at a place like I got to see the long-term impacts of decisions. And when you get to see that stuff, like you might not realize it in the moment, but when you walk away from it later, you get, not only do you get to point to all these things that you built along the way, but you get this like broader context of the team started like this, and then over the years, we hired this person. And then it restructured this way, and then this thing happened, and now I understand what it looks like for a marketing team to grow and scale. Understand all the different iterations of a product organization at the different stages. There's just so much more depth of understanding of building a business that you get. So if anyone is thinking of long-term, I want to build a company, like, the longer you can spend in one place and like, really understand the long-term impacts of decisions, like the better you'll be positioned for that later.

00:27:51 Andrew Michael: Yeah, absolutely. I see that as well. Completely like having startups before joining HotRoyal and spending like a longer period of time, and then afterwards, like the experience gained during that period was like unbelievable and having then sort of the understanding of like what's coming next and what to expect and knowing that's like probably the early stage is even though people say it's really difficult things probably only get more difficult as things grow and scale. Like the complexity just increases.

00:28:17 Andrew Michael: And I think one of the things, like David actually mentioned to me early on, he was like, when you're building a business, like if you don't get your first million in ARR, like pretty quickly. Like you've got to be very concerned because things only get more and more difficult, the faster the business grows and like figuring all those sounds out along the way, you really need to figure out where the pull in the market is coming in, as you mentioned, like you felt that with the chatbots and then you started getting pulled towards it. And then you knew it was worth the investing and spending the time.

00:28:41 Matt Bilotti: I wanted to jump to just maybe jog your memory as well, because you mentioned you had some crazy experiments with G and if you have one that comes to mind in particular that's really focused on retention itself, is there anything that comes to mind where you think, okay, we had this hypothesis, we weren't too sure, we tried this crazy experiment and either we had a great success or we were completely proven wrong?

00:29:03 Andrew Michael: Yeah. So we, for the growth team, we spent a lot of our time and energy and effort focused on, like acquisition and initial revenue driving. So most of the stuff that comes to mind is around that. So I can give one of those if.

00:29:17 Andrew Michael: Yep, go for it, go for it.

00:29:19 Matt Bilotti: So Drift has a unique product advantage where it's a chat widget that goes on someone else's website. So we have real estate on all these websites and we had early on, like when we first built the widget, I remember one of the designers designed, in like a little thing that said like chat powered by Drift. And then ultimately she changed it to Amanda. She changed it to a lightning bolt, chat lightning bolt drift. And then the lightning bolt like, became part of our brand. So that's just like a fun little tidbit. But we spent some time with that. Like we had something like 30 something percent of all of our signups originating from that referral system. So people, clicking on that, going to the marketing website and then signing up for the product.

00:30:02 Matt Bilotti: And we looked at this and said like, how can we optimize this? And we ran a couple of different experiments. We, like, changed the wording, we changed the font size to see if we made a font from 12 point to 14 point, like what percentage of increase of clicks will we get? And one of the things that worked really well for us was we made it so that when you clicked on that referral link, you used to just go to the marketing homepage, but we instead directed people to a specific slash powered by page.

00:30:35 Matt Bilotti: And we ran a whole bunch of experiments on how to structure that page. Like, what was the background of the page? What was the navigation of the page and whatnot? And the experiment that worked the best, that ultimately increased the conversion rate from like three to four percent to something like 16 to 17 percent was we remove the header. There's no nav. We remove the footer. There's no footer nav. We ran a bunch of experiments on the background image and the best background image that we got was just like the chat widget, like repeating itself, kind of in the background, so the whole background is just like chat widgets, and then there was one box of like, the only content on the page, and it said, do you want the experience you just saw on, click here to sign up for Drift.

00:31:18 Matt Bilotti: And that, referencing back to the website, removing any opportunity for someone to get lost, or find their way somewhere else, like that page was converting at 17% pretty consistently and jumped our numbers there. So that was like really an exercise in like, how do you just reduce as much friction as possible and, like tie the experience to an experience that someone just had, right? The whole like what you just saw on, like made it all feel cohesive. And then we took that same concept and sort of applied it to other, like, acquisition funnels that we had and said, how do we make this acquisition funnel contextual to where the person came from. And if you put the whole thing in that context, we found that we were able to consistently increase those conversion rates.

00:32:03 Andrew Michael: It'd be interesting. So to continue the experience, we also at HotJar, obviously they have the incoming feedback widgets and this was something similar as all we experiment with over time. But I always found it funny as well was that like people would actually think that they would click through and they would come to HotJar's website and then they realized they may be, made a mistake. So they clicked the feedback widget again.

00:32:25 Andrew Michael: And then they were leaving feedback on, HotJar site, but they were meaning to be leaving for the previous sites. And like, always used to get like the craziest messages and supporters trying to figure out like, what are these people saying?

00:32:35 Matt Bilotti: We got those too. We got some of those too. Yeah, the increase in conversion rate did lead to some people that did not realize that they meant to be on the other website.

00:32:45 Andrew Michael: Yeah. Super funny. Nice. What's one thing that you know today about churn and retention that you wish you knew when you got started with your career?

00:32:55 Matt Bilotti: That driving, there's no silver bullet, and I think people tend to, myself included, tend to significantly overestimate the likelihood of anything working. Whether that's like an initial product launch or some new email campaign you're gonna do to nurture a customer to make sure that they're retained or some in-product retention experiment. The likelihood of something working is a lot lower than you think. And so increasing your shots on goal is more likely to net you results than spending all your time and energy and effort and getting like a perfect experiment, right?

00:33:35 Andrew Michael: I love that. And talking about that, shots on goal before we wrap up today, you mentioned you joined Drift because you wanted to start your own thing and you wanted to learn, is that still on the cards? Any plans or?

00:33:47 Matt Bilotti: Yeah, I mean, going through that experience and watching how difficult it was and being a part of it and seeing the stress that the founders went through. I know I don't want to do that at this very moment. And going back to you started this conversation asking about dorm room fund. And that was a really great opportunity for me to work as, like, an investor and work with early stage founders. And I have found that I just absolutely love being a part of someone's journey and that zero to one.

00:34:15 Matt Bilotti: And helping them through it and advising and that sort of thing. And so I have started to shift away from the idea of maybe I'll start my own company to maybe I'll start my own investment fund and do that full time at some point. So the move to AngelList was like, let me continue doing product and doing it in the context of the world of investing and I can sit right in the middle of that industry and it has been a crazy time for the past year and a half or so to sit in the middle of the VC industry. And so it's, I may go off and do my own fund at some point, but I am loving the lessons I'm learning at AngelList so far.

00:34:53 Andrew Michael: Awesome. Well, Matt, it's been a pleasure having you on the show today. Is there any final thoughts you want to leave the listeners with before we wrap up?

00:34:58 Matt Bilotti: No big final thoughts. Take more shots on goal. Remind yourself that you're probably gonna be wrong and that that's okay. And focus on the systems that you use to operate because the better your system, the more likely that you're gonna produce results out of the other end. It's one thing to just try a bunch of experiments, but we found this adrift as soon as we built a cohesive system around it, where we were properly scoring and grading the opportunities that we thought that we can implement. All of that helped us increase our velocity, which increased the likelihood that we were gonna find something that worked.

00:35:37 Andrew Michael: Very nice.

00:35:39 Andrew Michael: Well, for everyone listening today, anything we mentioned, we'll obviously put in the show notes for you to pick up from there. And thanks a lot again for joining, Matt. And I wish you the best of luck now going forward.

00:35:48 Matt Bilotti: Thanks so much.

00:35:52 Andrew Michael: And that's a wrap for the show today with me, Andrew Michael. I really hope you enjoyed it and you were able to pull out something valuable for your business. To keep up to date with and be notified about new episodes, blog posts and more, subscribe to our mailing list by visiting Also don't forget to subscribe to our show on iTunes, Google Play or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you have any feedback, good or bad, I would love to hear from you. And you can provide your blunt, direct feedback by sending it to Andrew at Lastly, but most importantly, if you enjoyed this episode, please share it and leave a review as it really helps get the word out and grow the community. Thanks again for listening. See you again next week.


Matt Bilotti
Matt Bilotti

The show

My name is Andrew Michael and I started CHURN.FM, as I was tired of hearing stories about some magical silver bullet that solved churn for company X.

In this podcast, you will hear from founders and subscription economy pros working in product, marketing, customer success, support, and operations roles across different stages of company growth, who are taking a systematic approach to increase retention and engagement within their organizations.


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