Busted: Inside The Growth Team Of The FinTech Unicorn Revolut

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Revolut is preparing for a fundraising round that could push it to a $10bn valuation - in less than 5 years. We spoke to Irina Scarlat, Revolut's Head of Growth CEE, to find out more about this FinTech's secret recipe!

In this whole startup bonanza, when a company that is younger than 10 years and gets valued at $1 billion+, it gets the “unicorn” label. Take Uber, Airbnb, Spotify, Space-X, UiPath… There are 450+ unicorns out there.

What is behind the unicorn magic? Did they find the silver bullet for accelerated growth?

To find out, we started to dig into the topic some more.

Meet Revolut – The Wonder-Child Of New-Age Banking

Luckily for us, we didn’t have to dig too much, because we met Irina Scarlat, Head of Growth CEE for Revolut, the unicorn is disrupting banking, at the How to Web conference in Bucharest, Romania. The 2019 edition focused on building better products and growing faster and  – of course – Revolut nailed both of the subjects.

As Revolut is preparing for a fundraising drive that could push it to a $10bn valuation and 7m+ users, in less than 5 years, the company took growth to a state-of-the-art level.

Is there a recipe?

How do they mix marketing, hiring and product strategies?

How do they look at their metrics?

Read on and find out!

How Does Revolut Keep The Growth Ball Rolling?

Buckle up, people, some amazing insights coming right at you from Irina Scarlat!

What is your definition of growth teams?

I believe growth teams are the teams that own the growth of their product/service all along the funnel, starting from user acquisition and going forward to conversion and retention. For me, growth marketing is about achieving sustainable growth for your company.

How is your team structured and why did you choose to structure it this way?

We have decided to decentralize growth at the regional level since we are a FinTech and we need to build a local presence and establish trust in order to unlock our true growth potential in the markets where we are licensed to operate.

Our local & regional growth teams own growth in their particular geographies and they have to identify the growth levers that work for their markets and implement them beginning to end. The local growth teams comprise of a marketer, a business developer, a communications manager, as well as community managers (if the market is large), and they are lead by a Country Manager.

At the same time, we also have a strong central team that is in charge of building the right processes for setting up the local teams to succeed, as well as developing global campaigns to be further localized in different markets depending on the market objectives.

What is your team’s main goal?

The goal varies depending on market size and the overall company goals. We started out by having top-of-the-funnel goals: signups, went further down the funnel to switch to newly activated users and one step further to weekly active users. Since we approach growth holistically, growth teams are expected to be in charge of acquisition (signups), conversion (newly activated users) and retention (weekly active users).

How should a minimum viable growth team look like in terms of people and their responsibilities?

I think the team structure depends a lot on the company, responsibilities of the growth teams and central resources that they can use.

We were successful even with one-person growth teams (as was the case of Romania, when I first joined the company 1.5 years ago) that worked with distributed teams (operations, support, product in London and Krakow). In time, the growth team expanded to meet the ever-growing needs of the markets we address.

How do growth teams change depending on the phase of the business: from startup to mature?

I think that in the development stage you don’t actually need growth teams and the focus should be on product-driven growth, fuelled mainly by building a strong product that users love. The product is what ultimately generates virality, in my opinion.

Later on, in the startup stage, the growth team has to be developed because you need more than a good product to grow and compete.

In the growth & expansion stage growth, teams normally tend to expand since there is a lot of effort required to increase market penetration.

Last but not least, in the maturity stage, growth teams normally downsize, since their focus shifts almost entirely from acquisition/conversion/retention to retention only.

How do you retain and engage the team members?

Retaining and engaging team members is the most important part of the role of any team lead.

I believe that exceptional team leaders manage to retain their teams through constantly emphasizing the roles they have in the organization, constant communication, bi-directional feedback and rewards that are proportional to the results they bring in for the business.

More importantly, team leaders have to lead by example: if they care, their people will care as well.

Job hopping – how can you fight it?

I think there is nothing to fight – as long as the people are happy and they are working in an environment that offers them plenty of opportunities to learn and grow, they will not leave.

It is about hiring the right people, builders and shapers, that will be there for as long as they bring a significant contribution and feel that their work is meaningful.

Where does the growth team fit in the company structure?

Growth teams are instrumental for any company, so they should have a seat at the table and work together with product, operations, etc. to accomplish the company’s vision.

Growth, product, marketing. How do they overlap, how do they differ?

I believe that marketing should always be part of growth. This is how we approached things back at Uber and this is how we are doing it at Revolut.

As for the product, it is very important for the teams to work together and create effective feedback loops that always start from the users, go through the growth and end up at the product team.

Is there a workflow you use, a certain methodology? Agile, Scrum?

I think agile & scrum are mostly used for development and product work and their applicability is rather limited in growth.

We are super keen on experimenting: we know which growth levers work and we are focused on pulling those first. However, a big amount of our time is dedicated to experimenting: coming up with new ideas, testing them out, and scaling fast if proven successful.

We go lean in everything we do, from hiring to growth.

What is your opinion: one metric at a time versus more metrics? Why?

Definitely one metric, that evolves over time. It is much easier to set KPIs if you focus on one number only. Of course, there are a lot of other supporting metrics and you always look at all metrics along the funnel to evaluate the market health, but having one primary metric as KPI for a period (a quarter at least) helps teams focus and keep their eyes on the prize.


Pretty much to digest, right?

But let me make it a bit easier for you, and create a shortlist of how you can approach your product growth:

  • Growth teams should strategize across the whole funnel, from acquisition to retention.
  • For bigger companies, active in more markets, having decentralized teams might help to be more flexible.
  • The structure of growth teams is adjusted according to the company structure and its maturity stage.
  • Effective feedback loops between marketing, product teams, and users is a must.
  • Between agile and scrum…well, none of those because of lots of experimentation is taking place.
  • Finding one’s north star metric is a must. You need to have a clear focus and everybody must be aligned towards that metric. The metric can evolve along the way, but alignment should always be there, as Irina puts it to “always keep an eye on the prize”.

There you have it – how to approach your own product’s growth.

Now, it’s time for you to break the mold!

We’ve got plenty more insights for you that are growth-related on the MAN Digital blog, check them out!



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