Making Of A Growth Hacker- An Interview With Ina Herlihy

Team AppViralityGrowth Hacks, Growth Marketing, Interviews1 Comment

Making Of A Growth Hacker-AN Interview With Ina Herlihy

Paul Graham once famously said, “ A start-up is a company that is designed to grow fast.” This was in 2002. Since then, traditional marketing has got a makeover, and more and more startups are looking at growth hackers to run the bigger show.

But here’s the thing about Growth Hackers.

A spike in growth hacking job opportunities proves the point that we are trying to make here.

Who Is A Growth Hacker?

In our opinion, it is still an arguable question, which often invites mixed reviews and responses.

While hiring one, most start-ups look for that one member who can bring the best in terms of marketing and engineering on the table. All this in the hope of fastidious growth.

What are the skill sets that one needs to possess, to be able to christen himself/herself one remains debatable.

Before we move any further we decided to see how the yodas of growth hacking describe a growth hacker. Thankfully these definitions aren’t close to anything like this tweet below!


Sean Ellis, the father of growth hacking, puts it as:  “A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth.”

Gagan Biyani, on the other, hand states that: “many of the growth hacking descriptions on the web are unnecessarily restrictive. I don’t believe growth hackers must be formal engineers when many of the most well-regarded growth hackers don’t code regularly.”

Since these statements weren’t enough, we also deep-dived into a pile of noteworthy publications, discussions and compilations that elaborate this concept further.

The ones that have impressed us undoubtedly are:

Of course, there’s more to this concept, and therefore, we highly recommend the list compiled by Zach Bulygo of Kissmetrics.

Learning Growth Hacking: 35 Resources to Help You Become a Growth Hacker

Once you’ve invested yourself in the content mentioned above, you would realize that there’s more to the profile than a degree. It is the attitude and the mindset that maketh a growth hacker!

Getting the right person onboard thus remains a challenge.

To get our answers and to put a rest to this itch, we decided to speak with a fellow growth hacker.

Introducing Ina

Ina Herlihy is the growth hacker at Zumper and an ex-TradeCrafter. In this interview, she shares her insights on growth hacking as a career choice and what has been her overall learning as one. Previously, Ina was also listed in the list of female growth hackers, curated by us.

At the end of this article, she also shares her go to stack of books and other interesting links.

What has been your biggest lesson as a growth marketer?

When I first started focusing on growth marketing, I tried to read everything about growth marketing online and ask growth marketers questions in person. Eventually, my questions turned into research experiments, and I blogged about my findings from How to Optimize Referral Programs to 8 Steps to Optimize Emails .

My big takeaway has been learning by doing. I learned so much more during those hours spent writing those posts, versus other hours spent passively reading blogs online.

Now since I’ve joined the growth team at Zumper, I’m always trying to analyze competitors and startups in other verticals to help brainstorm innovative ideas.

Making Of A Growth Hacker-An Interview With Ina Herlihy
Being a growth hacker, has it changed the way you look at products and services today?

I’m always comparing how different startups approach growth. For example, whenever an app has a pop up message to review the app, I automatically take a screenshot. Also, when I notice a website redesign, I analyze why the change was made from an SEO perspective of adding new keywords to a product perspective with UX changes.

Amongst the many qualities that define a growth hacker, what according to you are the three most important?
  1. Analytical — You need to be comfortable with numbers for tracking metrics and SEO positions, analyzing trends, setting paid ad bids, and calculating ROI — just to name a few examples.

  2. Patience — It takes months to see the effects of SEO.

  3. Team player — Growth is best achieved with a team. At Zumper, a different person focuses on growth engineering, paid advertising, press, SEO, and community.

Venturebeat recently published a great article, Growth hacking has two phases — and using the wrong one will sink you, analyzing the two different types of growth marketers: the early-stage prospector like Sean Ellis and the post product-market fit miner like Andy Johns.

We’ll love a run down on the best links, tool, books and people (to watch out) that you feel rule the growth hacking world!

Links & Articles:

Noteworthy Blogs:

Over to you

We bet that this interview helped you in understanding the basic  nuances of this evolving segment, along with setting a path for hiring a quality candidate for your buzzing start-up. If you have any specific questions for Ina, do drop them in the comments below. Though she runs a hectic schedule, we will nudge her on your behalf!.

We are also eager to know how do you approach hiring growth hackers at your startup. We bet it will be a great discussion to have with you all!

About the Author

Team AppVirality


Sound growth hacks, tips and tricks from the team at AppVirality. AppVirality provides a drop-in SDK to implement Uber/Airbnb like in-app referrals, without having to code.Do drop us a line and we'll be glad to help you!