Growth Pilots End of Quarter Update – Q2 2018

At the start of every quarter I hold an all-hands meeting with our team to review our results from the prior quarter, recap highlights, and share upcoming initiatives for the new quarter ahead. Below are some of the key updates from our quarter ending on June 30th, 2018.

Before diving into our updates for the prior quarter, I take some time to remind our team what my vision for Growth Pilots is and what makes us unique. I plan to write a longer blog post on our vision and principles, but here is an abbreviated look into what makes us tick:

Our vision is to become the agency of the future by focusing on the long-term in everything that we do. First and foremost, that means focusing on the long-term partnership between us and our team members. We are nothing without great people and we do everything we can to make sure our people are happy, healthy, and advancing in their career growth. Next, we focus on ensuring long-term partnerships with our clients. We achieve this by working with fewer clients who are a better fit, allowing us to spend significantly more time and resources across those clients and truly acting like an extension of their team. Finally, we practice adaptability. That means we embrace the changes that happen in our industry as opposed to viewing them as a threat and remaining complacent. My hypothesis is that successful agencies in the future are going to reflect these principles in some shape or form and the current agency model is going to disappear.

Now, on to our updates for last quarter. Q2 was a busy one for us at Growth Pilots. We saw a lot of growth on all fronts. We were joined by several new team members, we created new departments/functions, and we even opened a new location (hello LA!).

Revenue Growth

Our revenue continues to grow due to our high word of mouth referral rates amongst clients and other influencers in our network (VCs, accelerators, etc). We have never done any outbound sales or marketing, which we take great pride in. This may not last forever as we continue to scale, but for now we are satisfied with the revenue growth we’ve sustained organically. We evaluate quarterly revenue growth against the same quarter in the prior year. Below is a graph of our revenue over each of the past 5 years during Q2. We grew revenue about 23% year over year in Q2 2018 and since our very first Q2 in 2014 we have achieved a CAGR of about 60%.


We evaluate NPS (net promoter score) by collecting individual NPS surveys amongst each client and then weighting it according to spend for each client. Our spend-weighted NPS for Q2 2018 was 8.9. We like to use spend-weighted NPS because it is more accurately tied to revenue. We still look at absolute NPS on a per client basis and investigate any shortcomings, but we have team bonuses tied to NPS so we determined that revenue-weighting made it more fair for everyone. NPS does not fluctuate often for us and we tend to see a pretty consistent NPS between 8 and 9.

New Departments

We created three new departments/roles this past quarter for a few areas where we saw large value-add opportunities:

The first new department is Creative. Having the right creative is vital to scalable performance marketing. Our involvement with creative previously was developing creative briefs for our clients, ingesting and testing what they would produce, and making recommendations for new creative based on the results. This has worked well, but we found ourselves running into more and more clients who had creative bandwidth issues which caused us to delay refreshing creative at the pace that was needed to maximize performance. We can now develop creative at the pace we need and our clients can reduce some of the load on their internal creative teams.

The second new department is a Client Strategy Team. Our account team structure has historically been divided into two separate teams – paid search and paid social. While this team specialization works well, we have oftentimes found there was a gap for cross-channel and channel-agnostic strategy and communication. So we introduced a new role – called a Client Strategy Manager – which will be responsible for filling this function. I’m very excited about this addition as it allows us to offer even more support than we already do for our clients.

Last, but certainly not least, is Content. I have always wanted to share our knowledge, experiences, and results with the rest of the world and up until know we have not had the resources to do that consistently and effectively. We’ve dabbled with content in the past and saw great results so we made the decision to hire a full-time content marketer who will be leading our content and storytelling. It’s worth noting that the goal of our content marketing is more about brand building and sharing our learnings than it is lead generation, but we have seen and expect to continue seeing leads come in as a result of our content efforts.

Expansion to LA

Nearly five years ago I started Growth Pilots with the goal of being a partner to startups that needed help figuring out their marketing channels. We have been successful by tapping into the thriving technology startup ecosystem in the Bay Area. The startup environment in Los Angeles has been gaining a lot of momentum over the past few years, and we believe there is a large opportunity for us to be part of the unique startup community that is developing. We opened the doors to our new office in downtown LA last quarter. I’ll be spending more time in LA to build out our presence there. Some of my favorite times at Growth Pilots have been when I was hustling to make a name for ourselves by meeting with entrepreneurs and VCs to see how we could help them. I’m looking forward to building our footprint in LA and partnering with high-growth companies in this unique market – and also experiencing some of that LA sunshine! 🙂

Hiring and Employee Retention

As with most agencies (and especially those in San Francisco), recruiting and retaining talent is key to our growth. We have unlocked some really effective recruiting and hiring techniques this past quarter that have accelerated our ability to acquire new talent. But hiring and retention is always a challenge in a market like San Francisco where opportunities for great marketers are endless. We are going to be adding additional team support for recruiting this quarter to double down on our hiring efforts. Q3 and Q4 have historically been our busiest quarters and we expect the same this year so we want to get ahead of it as much as possible. Our expansion to LA will also allow us to tap into a vast new talent pool in a hiring market that’s less competitive than San Francisco. We are aggressively hiring for multiple positionsin both SF and LA.

End of Quarter Outing

Beyond sharing a quarterly update, we also take a Friday off at the end of each quarter to celebrate the work we did and spend time bonding as a team. Our company culture is something we really pride ourselves on. I often hear from our team that working here feels more like a family than a company, and I’m extremely grateful that we have been able to achieve that. This quarter, we chartered a sailboat from San Francisco to Angel Island where we had a BBQ and enjoyed some relaxing time in the sun. The weather was perfect and we had a great time! You can see some pictures of our outing below.