How Showmax Runs a Growth Team Across 70+ Global Markets

I recently did an interview with Susan Su at Reforge about how we’ve built a growth team at Showmax: https://www.reforge.com/blog/showmax-growth-team. I’m reposting the article here – thanks Susan!

Netflix took three years to launch in its second, closely adjacent market of Canada after first launching streaming to US subscribers in 2007. From 2010 till now, Netflix has been gradually expanding its international footprint, and is now technically available in almost every country in the world outside of North Korea, Syria, and a few others.

By contrast, since its service debut in 2015, Showmax, another subscription video-on-demand company, has expanded to 70+ countries or territories around the world, many — but not all — of them in Africa. For example, the company made headlines when it launched in Poland just 18 months after its initial rollout in South Africa. As in its other country markets, Showmax’s efforts in Poland focused on local hits and original content that it’s commissioning just for that market.

Showmax is an interesting business because it hasn’t followed your typical playbook of international expansion for growth. Instead, it’s looking for regional markets where people are already paying to consume their favorite local content, and betting that it can divert some of that spend towards a Showmax subscription.

It’s also just doing everything faster, and sooner. A lot of US companies enjoy a domestic market that’s big enough to tide them over for at least a few years before they start looking overseas, but Showmax has jumped straight into the deep end by moving into multiple, dissimilar country markets and producing original content that’s meant for local audiences (more Tali’s Wedding Diary, less Orange Is the New Black), in less than two years after its initial launch.

More interesting for the Reforge audience, the company’s doing all of this with a single, central growth team that serves markets as different as Poland and Kenya. Carving a growth team out of a more traditional org structure isn’t simple, and less so if your internal ‘customers’ are on different continents, with different payment processors, different economies, and distinct content.

So how has Showmax managed to build a unified growth team that sits in Europe, while rolling out its service offering in 70+ regions around the world?

We spoke with Barron Ernst, Showmax’s Chief Product Officer, about building an international growth team from scratch, and how the team balances local optimizations with global efforts to drive subscription growth:

1. One specific way a centralized growth team can support dozens of country markets
2. What it means to build “multilateral” growth
3. How growth brings regional teams together
4. The tactics of knowledge-sharing across multiple countries, teams, and goals
5. The secret to adapting experiments and optimizations across 70+ markets
6. How Showmax decides new country markets
7. How brand marketing and growth play together

More details below!

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The Six Most Common Mistakes People Make in Product Manager Interviews

There are many reasons a candidate might not succeed when interviewing for a product manager role. Finding the right match comes down to skills and cultural fit. The company and candidate must be aligned on values, goals, and intent. Unfortunately, you only have a short amount of time to demonstrate to each other that this role is the perfect fit.

Given all the information available on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and the internet, there is no excuse for knowing nothing about the company or the person interviewing you. Having said that, preparing for an interview takes a lot more than Googling the company beforehand. It’s about coming up with a real strategy that will define the way you see yourself and your skills fitting into the company. It’s about working out how you will stand out. You must walk in with a strategy that matches your skills to the needs of the organization.

In my experience of interviewing people to join my team, there are six mistakes people make…
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How to Attract Top Product Management Talent

As I outlined in my earlier post on the product manager’s evolution, the intense pace of innovation today means that tech companies need to approach Product Management in an entirely new way. Core to that is attracting the best Product Management talent.

We’re going through a ‘golden age’ where technology is leaping forward, creating a new normal. It has and will continue to transform the world we live in. The world of recruitment is no exception, and with more data being created, potential candidates are leaving a trail of information for employers to discover. Likewise, candidates are able to discover hundreds of data points about potential employers. The result? Candidates and employers are able to make more informed decisions—employers are no longer in the driving seat; the balance of power has shifted.

When it comes to hiring product managers a key issue I’ve observed, is a mismatch of skill sets, expectations and job profiles. This makes it hard to find and retain the right person. Both sides need to be confident of a strong match, based on defined capability expectations, common values and clearly defined goals. Talent shortages and poor hires can have a serious impact on momentum and ultimately, profitability.

Here are five key areas to focus on, based on my experience:

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How to turn your customers into your biggest fans

Customer insights.jpg

Understanding your customers is essential for any business owner and is one of the cornerstones of the product manager role, as discussed in my last blog post. Building strong and long-lasting relationships is first and foremost about communication and nothing can beat face-to-face contact. With businesses spreading out around the globe, that’s not always possible, but new tech developments mean there’s never an excuse for allowing regular interaction with your customers to fall by the wayside.

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The Product Manager’s Evolution

Ten years ago, the top companies by market cap in the world were predominantly in oil, general industry, and financial services. Today, the top five are technology companies, providing products and services to consumers and enterprises. With this transformation, the pace of innovation has increased exponentially in response to demand. Last year, the number of global mobile users grew to exceed half of the world’s population with users in South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, and Japan averaging three hours per day spent in apps. To keep up and compete effectively in such a busy market, and as tech trends continue to evolve, technology companies need to approach Product Management in an entirely new way.

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Is 2017 the Beginning of the End for the App Economy?

For the last few years, apps have seemed set to dominate the way customers interact with brands. In 2016, Apple’s App Store grew by an average of nearly 2500 apps per day, and Google Play downloads are expected to triple by 2020.

At the same time visits to brand websites seem to be declining in importance – digital media time in the US is now significantly higher on mobile at 51%, compared to desktop (42%).

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The Seven Keys to Mobile Success in High Growth Markets

With smartphone growth in the US dropping to single digits as we enter 2017, and with North America and Western Europe combined now comprising only 20% of the global market, businesses are increasingly looking to regions like India, Africa and South America to drive future growth.

This shift in strategy makes a lot of sense, but the approaches that have delivered success in established markets can’t simply be replicated in new markets – local dynamics differ significantly. There are a very different set of constraints in operation, most of which stem from cost and infrastructure. If businesses want to deliver successful mobile services to emerging markets, they need to understand local nuances and design a business model that fits.

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Six Tactics to Use in Managing an Organization Across Borders

One of the biggest struggles in managing a team across geographic boundaries is staying in constant communication with your team members and with other people in your organization. As more and more teams become dispersed, it’s incredibly important to create processes to establish shared communication with your team.

In my current role, we have members spread across multiple different offices and continents and we are all traveling regularly. Therefore, it’s been necessary to establish some key principles for working well together.

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Mobile Services: How to Crack High Growth Markets

Smartphone use in high growth markets like India and Africa differs from developed markets. This is because there are a very different set of constraints in operation, most of which stem from cost and infrastructure. If businesses want to deliver successful mobile services to emerging markets, they need to understand local nuances and design a business model that fits.

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