⚙️ Antoine Buteau: Replit, Business Operations
Play • 9 min

9 minutes with Antoine Buteau, Business Operations at Replit. Balancing scale and experimentation. The risk of becoming too data-driven and copying playbooks from other companies. Growth attribution. Why Product Market Fit isn't enough. The importance of integrity. Pricing is an underrated lever. The Bowling Alley Framework to make sure users activate. Productivity and knowledge managment. Hiring. International GTM.

20 insights. 7 rapid-fire questions. Show transcript.

Here’s what Patrick Coleman said about Antoine:

Antoine Buteau. I want to give a shout out to Antoine Buteau on my team who leads BizOps for us. Just super sharp. Started his career as an engineer and then was a strategy consultant for software businesses. Just a brilliant go-to-market operator.
—Patrick Coleman, VP of Growth at Replit → Listen

What are 3 ways that your team converts your market into revenue?

Patrick covered our plans in a previous podcast so I won't repeat what he said. Our go-to-market motion is product-led which means 3 things in how we convert our market into revenue.

1) Our free plan is good enough to make our users successful and have them build cool projects. We don't do aggressive features gating, so we're able to acquire the right target users and users are able to experience the full value of the Replit product.

2) Because our free plan is powerful and we're targeting developers, in-product education is important. The limit people will hit with the free plan is around resources. When we included a resource utilization component within Replit, we saw an increase in conversion from the free to the paid plan. Users were able to understand their usage and the benefits of upgrading.

3) The importance of community. We give tools so that creators can share and show their projects. This means that our users push the limit of the product and help us market what you can do with Replit. In complement, we have a community team that harness that creative potential by organizing events like hackatons and jams.

What are 2 hard problems that you recently overcame?

Just to make sure I don't repeat what Patrick said I have two.

1) Growth attribution. We had a sense of what channels worked best for us. We dug in the data and found insights on what channels get the most pageviews, conversion and retention. It's very useful to have this data so we can double down on what generates the most result.

2) International GTM. We have a large user base outside the US, so we wanted to test what would happen if we do country specific go-to-market. Prioritizing the country to focus on required alignment across the company and we wanted to make sure that we don't slow the entire team by requiring product changes. We went out in the market, spoke to users to learn about the market dynamic and adjusted some of our go-to-market initiatives. We saw strong interest and users were receptive to our efforts.

What are 3 roadblocks that you are working on now?

1) Hiring. We have ambitious growth plans, so we need to hire great people that will fit the culture. The market is competitive, and at our size, a bad hire is still very costly, so we need to balance that out.

2) Balancing scale and experimentation. We have acquisition channels that work. When you're transitioning from a startup to a growth stage company, you still need to run a lot of experiments, but you also need to scale what works and that require a different mindset.

3) Data Infrastructure. As you scale, there's always a risk of becoming too data-driven and copying playbooks from other companies. Data can only tell you what happened in the past. There's usefulness to that, but there's still a lot of value in the craft and thinking from first principles. It's important that we continue building that infrastructure while also aligning people on a set of common taxonomies, questions, tools and how to use those tools.

What are 3 questions that you love to ask and why?

Being a manager now, three questions I like to ask are: 

1) How do people like working? 

2) What are their career goals?

3) What are their current roadblocks?

Basically when I manage a team, the first thing that I always make sure is: is it clear? Are the expectations clear? Is the strategy clear? And then, are the work and the priorities clear? Being able to map that to their personal goals is very helpful for me as a manager.

What are 3 mental models that you use to do your best work?

1) For productivity, I use the Getting Things Done methodology. It's the best methodology I have found to instill focus and clarity on the work that needs to get done. I have confidence in my system which removes some of the anxiety around work.

2) For knowledge management, I use Roam Research. It's a note-taking tool that help you connect your thoughts and group them together in related bits of information. Being able to link information without friction and bringing notes in their context is super helpful when you have to do a lot of context switching.

3) The importance of integrity. I take it very seriously. Integrity means that you are trustworthy. Others can trust you to do what you said you would do. You can also trust yourself including living out your aspirations and visions for participating in the world.

What are 3 techniques that GTM teams need to try?

1) Brian Balfour at Reforge wrote a great piece on Why Product Market Fit Isn't enough. Brian adds three other components to the well known Product Market Fit model. These should all be linked together and have implications when trying to move up or down market.

  • Product Channel Fit - the concept that products are built to fit with acquisition channels.
  • Channel Model Fit - that channels are determined by your business model
  • Model Market Fit - your business model influences the target market and vice versa.

2) Pricing is one of the most important levers and I still think it's underrated. I like the Van West model, which is a multi-question model that indirectly measures willingness to pay instead of directly posing the question to potential buyers. Rather than asking potential buyers to identify a single price point, the Van West model helps assess a range of prices instead of just one. The simplest version of the model is to ask what the buyer considers an “acceptable” price (good value for the money) and at what point the price would start to get “expensive” (they’d have to think twice about buying it).

3) The Bowling Alley Framework, an onboarding model. The goal of the framework is to get the user to the desired outcome. You can use product or conversational bumpers to do that. Product bumpers might be product tours or progress bars and conversational bump...

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