E716: People & Product: Intercom co-founder Des Traynor on importance of alignment, building a product-first co., hiring by values, scaling carefully, & avoiding churn

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About This Episode:

Intercom co-founder Des Traynor returns to the LAUNCH Incubator with another powerhouse talk. There are 3 ingredients to a company: people, product and profit. Today, Des focuses on people and product by extracting key principles from his experience at Intercom. He explains the importance of alignment and how it touches every aspect of running a company from how a company behaves, to the hiring process, to how you speak to customers. Then, he shares 6 principles on building a product first company. Des wraps up his talk by answering questions from the class about lessons learned from Intercom’s early days, net negative churn, and ways to avoid the massive churn problem.

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Timestamps:

00:53: Des opens his talk by sharing the news that Intercom crossed $50m in ARR

02:15: Des gives an introduction to the focus of his talk: “People & Product

03:05: Keeping your company aligned

05:33: Misalignment is the norm for you, it’s what you get for free

06:11: Write down your core values

06:54: What makes a value?

08:56: Intercom core values: 1) Think big, start small 2. Our bar is higher 3) It’s all about impact

11:58: Difference between values vs truisms

13:09: Be careful what you ‘scale’. All behavior scales: good, bad, ugly.

15:34: Hire by values

18:13: Independence vs. interdependence

21:30: Product first company

23:25: Des shares 6 principles of building a product first company – #1: Your product’s impact must be core to your company’s success

26:30: #2: Your product must always be feasible, viable, and desirable – if you don’t have all 3, your product will not do well

29:16: #3: Must be ruthless when focusing on prod work

33:00: #4: Charge for the value you create; not every good product creates a good business

35:48: #5: Follow meaningful metrics

38:08: Product first companies need to worry about churn more than growth

39:11: #6: Be patient for growth

40:37: Q&A – What is the number one thing you would change about what you did in the growth of Intercom?

47:24: Churn – top chart vs. bottom chart?

51:00: What does net negative churn mean? What are ways to avoid this massive churn problem?

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