Keys To Mobile Growth with Andrew Chen from Uber

By: Flurry

By: Toby Vogels (@tobyvogels), Mobile Developer Evangelist

It’s #KeysToMobileGrowth time again and in this edition we had the chance to get together with Andrew Chen. Besides heading rider growth at Uber, Andrew is one of the industry’s most prominent growth thought leaders - he’s written hundreds of essays on growth and marketing. We picked his brain on what it takes to build a scalable and successful business.


Anything in quotes below is attributed to Andrew Chen


Think about growth as a system that fits together

When it comes to coordinating different growth initiatives, prioritization is key. But how do you prioritize between on-boarding experiments, acquisition programs and user engagement tactics? Andrew points out to approach growth as a system that fits together: “You want to figure out what parts of your model are leaky and think about how does one group of users - directly or indirectly - lead to your next group of users.”

There are a variety of ways to implement: “This could be a system where people come in, click on SEO content, and a percentage of them also sign-up and generate more content. Then, the content gets indexed and leads to more users. That’s what the simplified growth models at Yelp, Wikipedia, and others look like. Or there is a paid acquisition loop where users come in, buy something, and you use that money to invest in advertising to acquire more users. While there are many other models, it’s important to look at a system that fits together for you; while also giving you the ability to analyze and deconstruct that system. Then, you can think about individual components and ask questions like ‘how does one change affect your overall growth model?’. If you know the potential impact and the rough cost of a change, you start to understand how to prioritize and trade-off decisions.”


Become scientific about growth

Instead of hacking your way up, Andrew puts a big emphasis on getting your fundamental data science together: “You need to be able to track your growth initiatives and compare your changes. This goes back to the growth model - you want to figure out what parts of your loop are leaky and what’s not quite working.” Understanding your data can help you drive initial product adoption, increase user engagement and acquire more customers.


Find your magic moment

If you’re looking for sustainable growth, user engagement and retention are crucial. “Often people talk about retention and say: My long-term retention sucks. What can I do about it? I always say, you should probably work on your activation. It’s the easiest thing to work on, assuming that the core product isn’t broken.”

So how do you step-up your user activation? Andrew highlights the importance of the first user experience since it sets the basis for further engagement. “Within every product there’s this magic moment where the user gets the product; it’s important to let the user experience your app’s value proposition ASAP. One of the first things is, people don’t want to signup. They don’t want to confirm permissions on popups. This in mind, try to let the user experience the magic moment right away.”


Register, Set, Go! Or the other way around?

One way to prompt users with your app value instead of a permission request, is to try an inverted funnel. “For example, you open an app for the first time and already have some items you can interact with. After you’re done, the app asks you to sign-up. Let’s take Evernote as an example: There are two potential ways to onboard users. The classic way would be, users sign up and afterwards they can create notebooks and notes, etc. The other option would be, a user just opens the app and can start typing and adding notes right away. That way the user gets to the magic moment right away, which is probably organizing your notes and syncing between devices. In the inverted funnel, you would let the user experience the app as much as possible. It obviously gets tricky when you need a lot of personalization. A sign-up can matter for instances when you have to connect with your friends.”


Become part of your users’ workflow

Throughout our #KeysToMobileGrowth series, participants like John Egan from Pinterest and Lisa Sullivan-Cross from Pandora have already talked about various product tactics to drive user engagement. Besides the conventional channels, Andrew advises to ask yourself one question: How do you get into your users’ existing workflow? “I think that’s a really important question. Let’s take 1Password as an example. I think it’s a very useful product - I use it all the time. However, I wouldn’t use it without their browser extension. I’m sure they first built the core product and as soon as they built the browser extension, the engagement probably increased. Since they were going to the user, they moved to the source of their problem and frustration. If you’re able to tackle the problem at their root, you can increase user engagement substantially. If your users actually use the app itself, I’d ask the question: How do you integrate into other apps and other experiences that the user already has a high level of engagement with and tie those two things together?”


What do you think about Andrew’s tips? Tweet us @flurrymobile, using #KeysToMobileGrowth. Also, check out Andrew’s blog at


Stay tuned for our next post with Andrew Chen about our Mobile Growth Industry Check.