What Adam Fishman of Lyft Taught Me About Growth

Adam Fishman recently visited us at Tradecraft to talk about his learnings as Director of Growth at Lyft (that’s their iconic pink mustache above). Over the last couple of years, Adam and the rest of the amazing team at Lyft have sustained tremendous growth and now offer on-demand ridesharing in 20 cities across the US. Here are the growth lessons I learned from talking with Adam.

#1 Focus on 1-2 key metrics

To actually achieve growth, a company must focus on one or two key metrics. Rather than scattering their attention in a dozen different directions, Lyft has focused their marketing efforts on a couple of key numbers. I’ve noticed this hyperfocus also in Gagan Biyani’s strategy at Sprig and Noah Kagan’s at AppSumo.

#2 Move fast - fix later

Adam also reinforced the importance of MVP-style marketing efforts in achieving growth. Lyft’s original driver referral program was run from an Excel spreadsheet which was slowly scaled and improved over time. Rather than waiting for the “perfect” solution, Adam encourages starting with something that will get the job done and building further after finding initial success.

#3 Avoid expensive experiments

Achieving scalable growth requires continual testing of new marketing channels to find the avenues that work best. Doing this can get quite expensive, so Adam recommends using relatively low risk experiments to test the waters before putting significant money behind a particular channel.

#4 Marketplaces must achieve balanced growth

Because Lyft is a marketplace connecting drivers with riders, they have a somewhat unique challenge: parallel scaling. If they get too many drivers Lyft won’t be able to keep them busy, and if they get too many riders finding an available driver might be impossible. Instead of simply going all out and growing one group as fast as possible, Lyft may need to actually slow growth in one user group while pushing the other to keep growth even on both sides of the equation.

#5 Empower people to make their own decisions

Lyft has been careful to build a culture of empowerment within their growth team. Giving his team authority to make decisions, Adam tells them the goal and lets each person determine the best path. Not only does this strategy generally lead to happier employees, but it also allows for faster development and pivoting.