On the MarTech of August 2014 in Boston, the founder and CTO of one of my favorite “StartUps”, Dharmesh Shah (@dharmesh) had a firechat with Scott Brinker @chiefmartec (my favorite influencer of Agile marketing), it was called:
Fireside Chat – The Engineer Who Hacked Marketing

The firechat was very interesting…

The story behind Hubspot
Dharmesh and his co-founder Brian Halligan, started with business software (this is coming back later in Dharmesh’ vision on Marketing technology) for small companies. But they had problems to get clients via the traditional channels of outbound advertising. On the other side Dharmesh had his blog as a student. This blog was quiet popular and gained a lot visitors. This way of inbound marketing seems to be the solution for the problem to get new clients.

After Dharmesh sold his software company and focused on helping startups doing (inbound) marketing. They made a lousy solution but still their clients wanted to pay for it. This way they got the confirmation that they found a real problem/pain to solve. Because the software was far from good but clients still wanted to pay for it.

The culture of HubSpot
The way to manage the fats growth of Hubspot (now 750 people) is to focus on the culture. You can not grow fast with average people. Hubspot is looking for a combination of rare skills like a creative who can write blogs, communicate but can also make pivot tables in xls and analysis.

Culture of Hubspot is created around amazing people:

  • build a company that you like work in
  • hire people that you want to be around
  • monthly MPS scores for every employee:
    Rank of Hubspot to work?
    Why? (because of the other people we work with: amazing people would like to around with amazing people)
  • awesome people don’t want to awful people
  • create a place where people want to work and they get a chance to be around other amazing people.

Dharmesh Shah himself is still coding because he is avoiding management, Dharmesh is very happy with it as didn’t have to put energy to something something he didn’t like anyway. It is typical for the culture, I think

The Marketing technology evolution
According Dharmesh, in the past: creatives, buy advertisement inventory and push it in the audience. Now there is the influence of data, marketing is becoming like ERP, CRM. Here is the background of Dharmesh coming back, as he started a company for business software in his early career.

But comparable with mega platform providers line SAP or Oracle, Hubspot is not growing by acquisitions. The reason is coming back in the vision of Hubspot. It takes Apple as an example. Apple makes non consumers, consumers by making it easy (Apple arranged the experience). HobSpot is creating a marketing inbound wide experience, you don’t need to connect all kind of tools but is one integrated marketing inbound approach.

In this way acquisitions by Hubspot wouldn’t fit because integrating other software would not give an unified experiences to the end user.
Unlike the golden rule in startup companies is to focus on a niche problem Hubspot is not focusing on everything, analytics, blogs etc. This because the problem they discovered is that there is no integrated solution. With an integrated solution Hubspot makes non consumers, consumers by making it easy.

The way that Dharmesh sees the history of software development is that there is always a wave of the integration period and disintegration period, which put best of breed solutions together. Hubspot is in between it. It is an integrated solution open for apps.

This makes the next point. Dharmesh expect that software development will go to API first focused platform. You can compare it with user-experience, API first, is the developer experience.


Some interesting questions ffrom the audience Dharmesh:

Marketing technology: agency vs in-house?
Lots of small agencies: 40% of revenue is coming from small agencies. Dharmesh hopes that it will continue.

Marketing tech vs Ad tech
Shift that is happen: we valued money more then time (entertainment needs to subsidized by commercials)
More people value time more the money (for example Netflix)

Reffering Peter Thiel’s book: What do you believe that no-one else creates on?
Darhmesh: classical marketing is going to die some day.

In most ways in the movie I agree with Dharmesh but about the small agencies, I expect communities of freelance specialist may exchange the small and also the big agencies on the long term.

And last but not least, it is worth to spend 45 minutes on the video.

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