Mobile Growth: MyFitnessPal

Mar 23

Mobile Growth: MyFitnessPal

In this podcast series we ask experienced Appreneurs for one success story and one fail. In this episode of the Mobile Engagement Podcast – MyFitnessPal.

mobile growth with MyFitnessPal

Nick Crocker from MyFitnessPal talks about the journey of mobile growth to 165Million App users. The big takeaways from this talk are:

  • The power of “first-mover advantage”. MFP was early into the game because they delivered an App in the early days of the iPhone. That built on their Web audience and remains a major reason they are a leader today.
  • 500,000 5-star reviews is a daily gift for user acquisition.
  • Word-of-mouth because MPF helps people with life goals has been the primary marketing driver for user acquisition.
  • Defining your business (App) mission in terms of the user’s end goals means you are focussing on utility that matters.
  • MFP’s inflection points in user activation, retention and most importantly utility came from focussing on the user’s goals.
  • The value of massive relevent food data in retaining a strong leadership position. The value of “verified” food counts which delivers accuracy to the core utility.
  • Tapering push notification frequency to users who cease to be engaged (after 7 push that are not opened) reduces annoyance. Presumably this means that a user may not uninstall the App and so will open the App again when they are in their next “get-fit” cycle.

 

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Transcript

DAVID: Hello. I’m David Jones. I’m the Founder and CEO of StreetHawk. I’m here with Nick Crocker. Nick Crocker was with a start-up called Sessions and Sessions got acquired by MyFitnessPal. And MyFitnessPal got acquired by—

NICK: Under Armour.

DAVID: Yeah. [Laughs] Thanks. So Nick, tell us a little bit about what’s happening with—the app is one of the most popular calorie-counting apps around. Is it number one or is it number five, or what?

NICK: It’s number one. So it’s generally, you can think about health and fitness apps falling into two categories, either run-tracking or activity-tracking, so that would be Runkeeper, Map My Run, Runtastic, Strava. And then the other category is calorie-counting, so that’s MyFitnessPal, Lose It! and there’s a few others.

DAVID: I figure, Rise, is it?

NICK: Rise is a nutrition coaching app which just got acquired. I don’t know if it’s going to continue on now. But there’s really only two and MyFitnessPal, in all of the categories whether it’s fitness or food, MyFitnessPal is the largest by a couple, a multiple of two or three, I think.

DAVID: In terms of downloads and stuff?

NICK: Totally, yeah. Pretty much every year caught up. It’s—yeah, kind of a remarkable story.

DAVID: So can you say how many monthly active users you’ve got.

NICK: I cannot right now. Like my company has scaled its size, it’s not something we could share. I think what we talk about publicly is that across, MyFitnessPal, now MyFitness, Under Armour acquired Endomondo, we have 165 million users across the four apps.

DAVID: Right.

NICK: But we don’t talk about monthly active, and most people don’t, I think.

DAVID: Yeah, yeah. It’s one of those things that the industry is not in a particular level of openness about that. Everybody is willing to talk about downloads, but when you see that on one end of the spectrum, you’ve got sort of like 70% churned by day three-

NICK: Yeah.

DAVID: -it just depends on your incentives, we’re actually saying that.

NICK: Yeah.

DAVID: It’s widely varied. We see some lifestyle applications. Once you’ve got a relationship with a user, the engagement is really deep.

NICK: Yeah.

DAVID: And you know, you have a really high, you know—if it’s not daily actives, it’s weekly actives is really high.

NICK: Yeah.

DAVID: It takes a particular kind of magic to get it.

NICK: Yeah, yeah. An interesting thing when you look at how MyFitnessPal users use MyFitnessPal, so most apps you download use then stop using and never come back, but the kind of odd and only wonderful thing about MyFitnessPal is just people keep coming back year after year and what that actually maps to is that people are just, you know, every year, every quarter, every season-

DAVID: Every New Year’s Day. [Laughs]

NICK: Every New Year’s Day-

DAVID: Every New Year’s resolution. [Laughs]

NICK: -I need to improve. And often that concerns quite a lot of people.4

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: And the first place when you open the App Store is MyFitnessPal, when you open that.

DAVID: Yes.

NICK: 500,000, five-star users in App Store now, I think, with the other apps, so it’s pretty—

DAVID: Yeah, that’s amazing.

NICK: I think it’s beyond kind of a hypothesis that if it’s an app that’s popular, it gets churned, it’s just mind-blowingly popular.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: It’s got a web interface as well too, yeah?

DAVID: Yeah. Well, it started as—so Mike Lee and Albert Lee are the Founders. Mike’s the CEO. Mike had to lose weight for his beach wedding, I want to say, back in 2005. And his personal trainer said, “You need to start tracking your food. I’ll give you a piece of paper and a pen and you write.” [Laughs] This is stupid. And he’s a programmer. He taught himself to program as a teenager, and he just said, “If I looked online, I couldn’t find a good tracker.” And he just decided to build his own, and so built his own and launched it and then basically just started from there. It’s crazy to think that 10 years later, a hundred million users plus and sells for $475 million to Under Armour. That’s an unbelievable story.

DAVID: It’s an amazing story.

NICK: Yeah, yeah.

DAVID: So in that particular situation, you came in a long time after that particular thing.

NICK: Yeah.

DAVID: Is there anything that you heard of that was pre the time you arrived that were amazing sort of like transact—you know, shifts in terms of acquisition, or were there any particular things that you heard about that are now company legends about?

NICK: Well…

DAVID: Where growth came from?

NICK: The one thing that you couldn’t have predicted in over five was the impact that the mobile, the launch of the iPhone was going to have. So it’s actually the perfect—the introduction of the phone is the perfect addition to this business, because originally you had to be at a computer to log in.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: Which is actually more convenient than a piece of paper.

DAVID: Yeah, yeah.

NICK: Or when you have in your pocket and it’s on the run, that was like transformational. And what Mike and Albert had at that point was a few hundred thousand users to say, “We’ve just launched our iPhone app.” And so right from day one, they were number one or close to number one. And the power of incumbency-

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: -the power of being number one in ’08 and ’09 today is enormous.

DAVID: Still actually benefit from that, yeah.

NICK: Nicely benefit.

DAVID: And as you say, reviews are like 500,000 reviews or something like that.

NICK: Five-star reviews.

DAVID: Right. [Laughs]

NICK: Yeah. 500,000 five—but think about how many apps get the 500,000 downloads, let alone five-star reviews.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: And the crazy thing is we don’t even ask for it, like there’s all these apps that are—

DAVID: Well, I was going to ask you about that. So you don’t actually go out there and write for a…

NICK: “Are you enjoying using this app? Please would you mind?” No, not that.

DAVID: Right. And it’s interesting because, you know, sometimes, you know, you open the app three times and all of a sudden there’s this prompters in your face and you’re trying to solve a problem, and you’re actually prompting to actually leave what you’re doing and go after-

NICK: It’s so infuriating.

DAVID: So they’ve never even asked for that. So that means that is there a button there that’s actually fairly prominent to go undo it?

NICK: No, I should double check, but not that I’m aware of. It’s honestly like the company grew—the other crazy part of the story of this company is just that it grew from word of mouth, like except from the 75 or 80 million of the people who downloaded the app, download it because someone said to them, “You should download this app.”

DAVID: That’s better than paying $5-a-click on Facebook, right? [Laughs]

NICK: It’s cheaper.

DAVID: Totally. [Laughs]

NICK: You know, it’s genuine.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: And it’s that classic kind of you see someone at work and you see they’ve lost weight and you say, “How did you do it?” And he’ll say, “From MyFitnessPal. You have to download it,” like the kind of—the conversion from seeing a colleague lose weight to downloading that same app, they’ll use this probably, I mean, 5%, you know?

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: So that’s—and it’s not just friends, there’s also, you know, a doctor had recommended, a friend recommended, a physiotherapist recommended, like it’s just, it’s become the default because of its size and scale and popularity, it’s become the default.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: And it’s just amazing everywhere I go, even when I go back to Australia, people say, “Where do you work?” I say, “MyFitnessPal.” People are like, “I have that app. I know that company.”

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: And that’s really a–

DAVID: Household name.

NICK: Which is rare, like if you would go, if you’re in Australia and you’re out barbequing, you want to say, “Caught off bank” [0:07:28.6]

DAVID: [Laughs]

NICK: But, yes, if you work for an app that people actually have, it’s really awesome.

DAVID: Yeah. Okay, so there’s the power of incumbency, anything else that’s actually—obviously, the power of the five-star ratings is massive.

NICK: yeah.

DAVID: Let me ask you a question about that, and you may not know the answer to that, so there’s a thing with Apple where, there’s a general sort of belief that if you actually release often, you’ll actually be, you know, you’ll actually get bumped up to the top of the views or whatever in the App Store, but there’s a situation where your actual ratings kind of like disappear, there’s kind of like two ways of seeing your ratings, but your ratings will disappear, because of ratings don’t default to the current version.

NICK: Yeah.

DAVID: And so, it’s sort of like there’s like attention between should we do a release or should we just ride out our ratings as we stand? Do you know what, if you had discussions internally about whether you should just, you have to release once a quarter or—

NICK: Def—no, the way we talk about release cycles are about optimizing for product output and team morale and the logical approach to giving cadence that makes sense, none of it is kind of any in cases, it’s like hourly cycles or about basically optimizing through the output of the product of engineering and design mix.

DAVID: Yeah. Okay, so cadence is internal cadence or as cadence as to what you think your users might expect, likely might—

NICK: No, it’s internal cadence, because there’s a sort of tyranny of the way that is just you’re making every product in which is you give me two more days-

DAVID: Yeah. [Laughs]

NICK: -to just hold the release off two more days. It’s critical.

DAVID: It’s a key issue.

NICK: It’s like, “No, we release in every three weeks and if you’ve missed this release, you wait three more weeks.”

DAVID: Right, right. And is that in reality what it is for you guys? You wait for a three-week cycle?

NICK: Yeah, you can see it in the store.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: Just the cadence of the updates. We’re doing a much better job now of sharing on the blog and in our notes, yeah, and release in the notes what changes are there, really like getting into more conversation with the user base about like the features that we’re releasing, and how we thought about them and we think they’re going to impact the users. So yeah, it’s just—how do I put it?—it’s the healthy thing to—

DAVID: Yeah. What about—so, when you’ve got such a massive user base, what do you do about sort of like rolling out a new feature in that situation? Do you have basically a hundred people you’re testing with or do you—you know, how do you actually kind of stage it or how do you know that you’re not releasing some sort of massive bug into the wild?

NICK: We have an awesome QA team that’s been, like, internal and core to the product process for years. We have an awesome beta testing process that our product managers, our technical program managers and our engineers are all into.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: We are extremely respectful of the fact that users don’t like change. And if they’ve established a certain behavior that’s working for them, but we don’t want to cause them pain by taking them away or making them go search for somewhere else.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: But it’s actually probably underestimated how much extra consideration needs to go into shipping features of this scale, because certain implications to so many different user cases.

DAVID: Yeah, yeah.

NICK: And actually, to go back to the regulars, to the regular cycle of shipping product, it actually lends us, like if we were shipping once a quarter with these massive releases, I just think we’ll be seeing a lot more bugs and a lot more trouble whereas this shipping on a regular basis allows us to isolate not just full features but components and features to roll them out whether it’s platform-to-platform. And it’s rare that we would just roll out 100% without 200% of these users without being sure that this wasn’t going to negatively affect them.

DAVID: Yeah. And from a feature perspective, do you prioritize? So you say, okay, you’re respectful of users, do you prioritize based on what you’re seeing your more engaged users do, like is there kind of like a statistical kind of flow that you take to actually, you know, sort of like prioritizing in particular set of features, like do you optimize for your really engaged users or do you optimize for users who are kind of churning that you think will increase the utility for them?

NICK: I don’t think we think about it like that. I think we think about what is the feature that is going to deliver the most value to the most number of users.

DAVID: Okay, so across the board?

NICK: Yeah, because if you only—if you’re shipping every three weeks, what’s that? 52 divided by three times per year, you’re putting something out, you slow down around Christmastime because you want to be stable for the oncoming run-ups, it’s probably less the amount.

DAVID: Yeah, so you got—

NICK: You actually don’t—even every three weeks, it’s not that many major moves that you can make in the EU and when you’re doing on that scale, if you—basically, you want to make sure that the boards have gathered like the ones you watch.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: It’s not a good feeling to work on something for a long time, ship it and have it be a failure. So we try to work on things that have really obvious, massive impact, and also things that leverage the things that we’re best at. So I think we have 7 billion logged foods or something in our database. So it’s hard for anyone—like I don’t know how you would, if you’re starting now, how you get to the point of having that level of data.

DAVID: Right.

NICK: And how you—and then the insights that you can build over. Now, even if you just look at the number of recipes that people have logged, because it’s really the recipe-logging feature is really well-utilized, because people who are eating healthily often will have a recipe and then you put the recipe in once then you say I just did this meal and I had one serving.

DAVID: Right.

NICK: It becomes really easy.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: So we have this recipe databases that are interesting, massive, being on the leverage of those through our user benefit that we can see. So I guess it’s like, there’s no sort of hard and fast scrolls, and there’s also the revenue focus that we have, then our engagement focuses that we have, this kind of platform focuses that we have, you know, just improving the apps with something under that area, iOS in general. So quarter-by-quarter, we figure out what we need to do as a business and then we prioritize on that basis, and yeah, but it’s always about most bang for your buck, you know, biggest impact.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: And probably the core value that Mike and Albert had always had and always—like you just hear it all the time around me, it’s just like, if our users succeed, we succeed. And that actually goes back to that word of mouth thing that we talk about.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: So it gives that and we start growing and—so that is—that every single room that you’re in whether you’re an engineer or QA or marketing or product, that’s something that people use as kind of this like—that this stuff.

DAVID: All?

NICK: Yeah.

DAVID: Right, right. that’s the lens through in which you look at every single decision that’s—

NICK: Yeah, yeah. And when Mike said or was talking about our values, like that’s the first one on the board. User successes are non-stop.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: And it’s like easy to say but actually when it comes to the prioritization, what ends up on the cutting room floor, that’s when you really see its value of just all that.

DAVID: Yeah. So would it be true that, you know, sort of like a major uptick for you guys in terms of engagement, stuff like that, there’s really quality of the ingredient data or the product data that goes into it, like did you get massive upticks in engagement or retention when you actually opened up a new territory that had particular products for that territory?

NICK: So I think there are a few things in that. So definitely, we know for sure that the more foods we have, the more actually people come on board, the better experience that they have. And there are different foods in Poland to Brazil, to England, to the US. So as we grow internationally, having that baseline food database is just key to our growth there. What was the first part of the question?

DAVID: Well, it was just like, is that one of the major kind of upticks because like, you know, at the end of the day, instead of doing product release-type changes, it could be data around depth or whatever is actually—

NICK: Yeah.

DAVID: Like it’s not always about the app, but it’s about the way to actually service the user’s local needs.

NICK: I think one of the big shifts this year was we launched Verified, it might have even been last year, late last year. We launched Verified Foods, so we were able to look through our entire food database. And basically, match up what calories were to the macronutrients so that we can say this looks roughly accurate, match it to other foods in the database that we knew of good foods in terms of like how from a data perspective, they were, like, accurate.

DAVID: Can you say that in tangible terms, so like if i—

NICK: So when you—so you go in and look for bread now.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: And you say, “Alright, this slice of sourdough bread.”

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: But someone may input a sourdough bread and they may have inputted the macronutrient level that it had 12 grams of sugar. So that will impact the calorie count for that slice of bread.

DAVID: Yes.

NICK: That slice of bread wouldn’t have—shouldn’t have 12 grams of sugar in it.

DAVID: I think that stuff I get from ordering does, or is it cyanide? [Laughs] I just can’t eat that.

NICK: Bread is a terrible example. Okay, let’s say you have a small steak and the protein in it is 45 grams of protein. There’s no way that’s 45 grams of protein in a steak that small. So that will be a food that would be not verified. So one of the user problems is you come in, you log an apple or a steak, and you’re like, “Which of these foods that I searched for can I trust has accurate information?”

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: So we added like a verified-

DAVID: Cool.

NICK: -to foods that we eat refined, so data—to go back to your original question, data quality has a huge impact on the user experience.

DAVID: Right.

NICK: And we have a big, very passionate data science team who are looking at all kinds of things, whether it’s taste profiles that are tied in or understanding our food database from like sweet to bitter, to all kinds of amazing things.

DAVID: Yes.

NICK: I mean, that’s the verified—like verified of how the accurate calorie counts is one of the examples that I think was recently released and have a big user base impact.

DAVID: Right, cool. Okay, good. Is there one sort of quick win that you feel is that you’ve seen since you’ve been here in relationship to retention or engagement or acquisition or monetization that you can kind of think of off the top of your head?

NICK: Yeah. Well, one of the early things I worked on was we’re looking in our data and we saw that if we didn’t get to log a food on the first day, that the chances you would log a food—

DAVID: Activation.

NICK: –second day, it was very low.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: So we do a lot of user interviews. And one of the things that was surprising to us was people—some people just didn’t know how to log a food, like once you have a hundred million people, you have the whole population, which includes millions of people who are familiar with technology like you. And so what we did is at the end of the on-boarding, we basically did this kind of walkthrough, what it looks like to log a food and at the end of the process, you actually search for what was the last meal you had and what was the food in that meal. And so we a massive uptick in first day log or “zero day login” as we call it.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: But more importantly, we saw massive uptick at day one, day three, day five, a bit—

DAVID: Right. Excellent, excellent.

NICK: What that means is at the end of the final visit, like hundreds of thousands of extra people who hit their way up because we kept them on day one and then make it, so—

DAVID: So again, that’s that lens of the values as win.

NICK: Exactly. So that was a massive uptick to…

DAVID: So what was the one change you actually made that—?

NICK: So rolling in at the end of the onboarding, just dropping them into the homepage or the home screen.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: We actually kept them going through the onboarding process, so now we’re registered and signed up that we basically said, “Now, let’s log a food.”

DAVID: Right.

NICK: Click “add” here.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: Okay. Now, what was the last meal you had? Select down here. What was the last food you had? Type down here. It’s something like really just handhold through the entire food logging process, because there are some bits that’s somewhat complicated. So that was a really impactful one. The other thing was we saw in some user feedback that people sometimes just forgot to lock. And so—

DAVID: Do you mean they missed a meal?

NICK: Yeah, they just forget.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: Like, “I got so busy at work. I forgot to log.”

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: So we put some real effort into rethinking our reminder tools, making it more ubiquitous, easier to use, easier to modify. That was a really great project actually because, you know, this is what we look at the data before we’re like this might be really annoying, giving people more reminders, but we saw no—like no one was really leaving the app, people were actually responding really well to it, but they were logging more food, went more engaged. And what we did was if you weren’t engaged with the reminders, we actually taper them off, so it just eventually stops sending them to you.

DAVID: Right.

NICK: Because most apps are just like, it’s binary here, and opted-in/opted-out. If you’re opted-in, you’re going to get a reminder—

DAVID: Yep, yep.

NICK: –infinity.

DAVID: So is this push or is this e-mail or both?

NICK: Push.

DAVID: That was push.

NICK: Yeah. So we just, like, “Listen, if you haven’t opened the app—“ the exact ground rule goes like, “If we send you seven push notifications, you haven’t opened the app in 14 days, why would we send you eight push, you know?

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: So we would—It was like, you know, classic, a monthly product decision was like listen to what’s going to help the user, roll the app and then you can see working sort of almost immediately.

DAVID: Yeah, got you.

NICK: Those were two that I was particularly close to because I was on the early months that I worked on, but it’s just a lot that goes into—[laughs] keeping it at this scale.

DAVID: Yeah, it’s cool.

NICK: I feel like as I was leaving there, I just kind of learned doing just how much goes into it. But I think those are tangible examples of Mike.

DAVID: Yeah. Well, it’s my fault. It’s like, you know, tell me one win and one fail, so you don’t have to tell me all your wins. I’d love to see different wins and do that, but we’ll do that over a beer and some steak.

NICK: Yeah

DAVID: Also, it’s a health company. What do we wanna do? I have a water. We’ll do that over water.

NICK: Yeah, everything in moderation. [Laughs] Everything in moderation. Yeah, yeah, very true.

DAVID: So tell us about one fail, is it being something that you want to talk about that you did that was like thoughts that might actually really be a good thing to try or there was a lot of effort put in and they just kind of like just got, you know, a flat response.

NICK: Well, Sessions, the company that I founded before we got acquired was somewhat of a fail. We were set to build that company to be self-sustaining. That was the thing I wanted to work on forever and we didn’t acquire enough customers, have showed enough traction to just by keeping on growing. I mean, we probably could have, but we just—you’d have to fit or you don’t and we didn’t. We spent a year and a half roughly trying to get fit.

DAVID: So you’re able to decide the market really, wasn’t it?

NICK: Yup. And all the trainers, of course, one of the involved, because they want access to follow customers. The hard part was signing up the customers on the other side now.

DAVID: Oh, really? Because quite often, they say things are supply-side constraint, but maybe that’s only after you’re up and running.

NICK: Well, yeah. Maybe that’s right. Certainly, the supply side for the personal trainers is not constrained. Personal trainers need more work, it’s not constrained. The nutritionists, the dieticians are, basically—

DAVID: Right.

NICK: Small business people who are applying the trade in health and fitness area, so that’s not. It was really easy. The hard part was acquiring customers.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: And we basically did everything wrong. We didn’t have a clear value proposition. We probably didn’t respond enough. What happened early on was we had a few wins which triggered us into thinking we’re going to be more successful. I mean, well, like, we got some press and signed up a hundred people in like six weeks that we launched. And we thought, “Oh, when we turn this on and roll this out, people are going to come flooding in,” but didn’t turn out to be the case.

DAVID: And there was no word of mouth engine? This is kind of like a similar sort of human factors thing, you would think that-

NICK: Yeah, you know, like I think about word of mouth is like the psychology is I wanna give you gift. And if I can give you a gift that’s free, it’s much easier to fix, now you should download this app, because it’s free and it’s amazing. But we were charging $79 a month, so you’ll be really giving that gift, it comes at a reasonably high cost.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: And so I just don’t think we responded to—now, there’s this balance between believing what we believed and seeing what the market was telling us. And we were stubbornly believing what we believed. And ultimately, we probably should use new, like—this is not working well enough. People—there are too many reasons that people are not signing up, whether it’s too expensive or too hard to understand or not focused enough on weight loss or whatever else. And so once we got people in, it was incredibly successful and rewarding. And the engagement we have was just quite, we have an IT to the set of people who are still engaged in week 12, so we did the engagement piece so well, once we had people in, but over a few thousand customers, it’s just not enough.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: Tens of thousands of customers to kind of break up. So that was—I consider that somewhat of a—it’s a success and I coined it ultimately like I’ve been doing a sustainable business.

DAVID:  But it’s something that all entrepreneurs face, it’s this kind of situation that you have to believe in what you’re doing and you have to believe that you’ve got a more complete vision than most people that stand on the sidelines and actually sort of throw pot shots at you. And so, you know, and also a lot of entrepreneurs are kind of like have a chip on their shoulder that they want to prove to everybody that they were young. Have you figured out whether there’s some sort of balance in terms of when you should actually kind of listen to the advice or you know, I guess in your situation, people will probably be telling you, “Yeah, but how are you going to acquire customers?” You’ve got to actually get some sort of engine for growth here and acquisition is going to cost you money. Philosophically, is there anything that you kind of feel ahead of that as sort of like, well…?

NICK: I don’t know, you know what I think it is, I don’t think it’s philosophical, I think it’s just purely rational. You say, if you don’t, you can say to an entrepreneur, “If you don’t raise any money, how long is it before you die?”

DAVID: Yeah. No more runway equation?

NICK: Yeah. And then, how do we make you get to a position where you’ll never die. How many customers is that, I mean, you can’t get to that number of customers before you die, like it’s mathematical. That’s it.

DAVID: Yep.

NICK: So if you missed—if you’re under the line, then don’t keep doing what you’re doing because you’ll die. [Laughs] We can’t be always thinking you’re going to hold or at least some few months—

DAVID: That’s correct.

NICK: It actually catch up to the linear gradient. And there’s only so many months where you like can sustain, otherwise you’re just waiting for a miracle, which is not the plan.

DAVID: Yep.

NICK: So maybe I’m too far the other way after being too far on this side of optimism, but you know, we both mentor start-up companies. I have—the first question I ask all of them this year was how long until you can’t work on this anymore?

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: –because the conversation is, well, let’s figure out what happens before we drive into that all.

DAVID: Yeah, it’s a great reality check–

NICK: Yeah, and you know, like I understand it because I lived it. I know what it feels like not to have enough traction, not to have enough growth. It’s a brutal feeling. And you don’t want anyone else to have to experience that, even the golden offer. I mean, you can talk to these guys and say like, “I can see it coming, three months from now. But the wall is three months away, that’s not—if you rely on a miracle in 12 weeks, it’s not going to happen.

DAVID: Yeah. And something’s not always the answer too because you can actually have—

NICK: –or hides the frame.

DAVID: Yeah, you’ve got these, you might investors and you’re asking why your revenue figures are so over-inflated. [Laughs] It seems so well, you know, this didn’t, you know, the market didn’t turn out to be the way we thought it was.

NICK: This is my finished project, so Mike and I would be raising the money until 2012 when they had tens of millions of users.

DAVID: Seven years in.

NICK: In dollars and revenue.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: And they did it right. So like I get reminded every day, I’ve worked moving like to do it right.

DAVID: Yeah,

NICK: Which is what Mike and Albert did.

DAVID: Funding into scale, not funding into product market view.

NICK: Yeah, like getting product market view, fighting, do building in this incredible growth engine and then once you have something that’s real. It’s just a completely different story.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: And the numbers are all out there. MyFitnessPal raised something like $18 million and then sold for $475 million. It’s just like an incredible turnout story, and because I was in the same space, trying to do the same thing, helping the same people, then my path was nothing like that. So it’s a reminder every day of how I could have done it differently, or how I’m obsessed with this quite from David Sacks which is the strategy is sequencing events that you build power on your way, sequencing events to save those strengths along the way. Like, why can I work sequence events, that is in MyFitnessPal, sequence events and build strength the whole way, we sequence events in the way that a lot of us funding, raising money, to have the strength continue.

DAVID: Yeah.

NICK: And that’s not a mistake we’ll make again. Touch wood.

DAVID: I can see, I would relate to that because there’s a fitness metaphor in there which says, “Okay, well let’s get the foundation right. Let’s get some strength in the legs first and then we can work on other stuff first, or we can then build on to endurance or whatever—“

NICK: Absolutely.

DAVID: –power lifting or something like that.”

NICK: Yeah.

DAVID: Yeah. Very good. Okay, very interesting to hear the story of something that’s literally formed out in the park. It’s pretty amazing.

NICK: Yeah.

DAVID: It’s an amazing story. I wonder if, you know, if you look at consumer action, you say, “God, how many apps have actually done that, that haven’t been from the majors?” You know, it’s probably less than two dozen.

NICK: It’s pretty rare to be—when you cross 100 million users, it’s pretty—four times the size of Australia. [Laughs]

DAVID: As you can tell, this man’s from Australia, so keep going with the Aussie metaphor. Well, let’s go put the Barbie on then in moderation. [Laughs] Alright. Thanks, Nick. Take care.

NICK: You too.

 

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