DiscoverSubscription Stories: True Tales from the Trenches
Subscription Stories: True Tales from the Trenches
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Subscription Stories: True Tales from the Trenches

Author: Robbie Kellman Baxter

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Subscription models are crazy powerful. Savvy small companies can easily deploy them to knock huge Goliaths off kilter. We’ve seen it in entertainment, software, hardware, news, retail, hospitality—the list goes on. In her podcast series, Robbie Kellman Baxter interviews the leaders of this revolution about how they’re using subscription pricing and membership models to redefine the biggest industries and generate predictable recurring revenue along the way.
15 Episodes
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Gina Bianchini brings her community-building and subscription expertise to this episode. She joins Robbie to discuss the role of community in building a broader Forever Transaction, why some communities go off the rails, and how to use community as a starting point for membership, before layering in other elements of value, like content, digital courses and subscription commerce. Highlights from this episode: 1:57 - Why Gina decided to create another online community platform after leaving Ning 5:40 - The distinction between launching a subscription company, and an ad-based one 8:20 - The Myth of More - why content is not always the answer 11:36 - Subscription Overwhelm and how to avoid it 13:00 - How MightyNetworks defines “community” 15:47 - Knowing when not to build a community 16:39 - How COVID turned a community from social running to career networking 18:12 - The importance of focusing on helping a customer achieve their goal, not consume a product 22:26 - Two common mistakes when building a community 23:25 - The right resources and structure for starting that nascent community 26:26 - MightyNetwork’s extra easy approach to onboarding 31:21 - Story Time: how a group of Cacao Growers built a MightyNetwork of their own 33:10 - Gina’s advice for entrepreneurs and executives who are sitting on the sidelines of community 34:48 - Robbie’s Speed Round Gina's Bio: Gina Bianchini is the Founder & CEO of Mighty Networks, an online platform that serves “creators with a purpose.” Creators can offer experiences, relationships, and expertise to their members via community, content, online courses, and subscription commerce. All of these features are offered in one place, under the creator's brand. In addition to Mighty Networks, Gina serves as a board director of TEGNA, a $3 billion broadcast and digital media company. Under Gina’s leadership, her prior company, Ning, grew to 100 million people in 300,000 active social networks across subcultures, professional networks, entertainment, politics, and education. Gina received a BA and MBA from Stanford University. Links: Gina’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ginabianchini/ Gina’s Email: Gina@MightyNetworks.com Oiselle Community: https://www.oiselle.com/pages/community Mighty Networks: https://www.mightynetworks.com/ Robbie’s Membership Economy Lab: http://membershipeconomylab.mn.co/ Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/ Robbie's Website: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/podcast
Vena CEO Hunter Madeley joins Robbie to share best practices learned working at multiple B2B SaaS success stories. They discuss when it does and doesn’t make sense to pull out another company’s playbook, how to onboard for engagement and loyalty in a complex B2B environment, and his concept of “methodology before technology”.   Highlights from this episode:   2:12 - Vena’s Forever Promise and business model 5:00 - The role community plays at Vena 8:29 - PlanToGrow.com - Vena’s hub for community engagement 10:09 - Using a “methodology before technology” mindset to improve the customer’s journey 16:27 - Making sure the software follows through on its Forever Promise to the customer, the buyer, and the user 19:23 - How Vena’s onboarding process begins before the customer makes the purchase 21:50 - Vena’s “time to value” metric 24:00 - Balancing the needs of the salesperson and the customer 25:13 - When focusing on revenue can be counterproductive to creating a Forever Transaction 28:19 - How to analyze data in a productive and unbiased way 31:14 - Robbie’s Speed Round   Hunter's Bio: Since 2019, Hunter Madeley, a serial SaaS entrepreneur, has served as the CEO of Vena. There, he continues his track record of leading transformational growth at some of the cloud’s most important companies. Prior to Vena, he was at HubSpot, where as chief sales officer he led annual revenue growth from $80 million to $600 million in just five years. His 20-year career also includes sales and growth leadership roles at ADP and Salesforce.com.   Links: Hunter’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/huntermadeley/ Vena: https://www.venasolutions.com/ Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/ Robbie's website: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/podcast
Electronic Arts’ Mike Blank joins Robbie to talk about his journey bringing subscription to the world of gaming. They discuss the challenges of subscriptions in the gaming industry, how to encourage consumers to discover new content within the subscription, and how EA offers multiple consumer models to support their “player first” promise. Highlights from this episode: 2:15 - EA’s journey to subscription and why subscription models are particularly challenging in the gaming industry 8:00 - How EA used their “player first” mindset to create a subscription that would not cannibalize their business 11:29 - The importance of giving subscribers a taste of the product that leaves them wanting more 12:50 - EA Play’s ideal customer 16:47 - The metrics EA used to measure success, and the key data point for tracking returning customers 18:58 - Why helping a customer discover more content is so critical in a subscription business 21:53 - How EA shares subscription data across the company without distracting from other “player first” projects. 24:45 - How to tackle pricing in the gaming world and how EA chose its pricing model 30:16 - How to create a subscription that is beneficial from both a business and a “player-first” standpoint 33:29 - Mike’s advice for someone tasked with bringing subscription to a transactional or episodic business 35:51 - Mike’s advice for creating something evergreen within a “hits” or season based industry 37:21 - Robbie’s Speed Round   Mike's Bio: Mike Blank is EA’s SVP of Player Network. In this role, he oversees how the company enables players to connect together, discover games and evolve to new distribution models. Mike is responsible for building teams, providing vision, and helping to invent the next generation of EA including the consumer platform and subscription-based products. Before his 18+ years with EA, Mike worked in law. He received a BA from McGill University and a JD from The University of British Columbia. Links: Mike’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/blankmichael/ EA Play, EA’s subscription service: https://www.ea.com/ea-play/news/welcome-to-ea-play Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/ Robbie's website: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/podcast
Jessie Teitz Becker, the SVP Marketing at Impossible Foods, brings her impressive marketing knowledge and expertise in forming long term recurring revenue relationships to Subscription Stories. She joins Robbie to discuss how Impossible is applying principles learned at subscription companies like Netflix, YouTube and Optimizely, best practices in introducing & building habits with a new product category, and why they launched an “every day” product at special occasion restaurant Momofuku.   Highlights from this episode: 2:17 - The birth of Impossible Foods 4:24 - How Impossible earned its credibility through the famous restaurant empire, Momofuku 6:21 - Why the product, and not the marketing, is the key to creating repeating consumer habits 9:25 - How to build customer loyalty through an “easy out” 12:00 – Impossible Foods’ key to restaurant success: ensuring every employee gets a taste of their meat 15:33 - The milestones and metrics Impossible looks for 18:38 - How COVID rocked the food industry - and what Impossible did to battle it 21:03 - Why Impossible Foods made the jump to direct-to-consumer shipping 23:50 - What Impossible Foods learned from launching their own ecommerce direct to consumer 26:36- The magic of free shipping 29:10 - The ideal Impossible customer 32:45 – Impossible Foods’ loyalty program Taste Place, and how Impossible is building their Forever Transaction 39:26 - Robbie’s Speed Round   Jessie's Bio: Jessie Teitz Becker is a marketing executive based in Silicon Valley. She is currently the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Impossible Foods where she leads the B2B and B2C marketing, insights, and brand marketing teams. Jessie began her career at Netflix in 2000 as one of the first people hired in the marketing department, and eventually rose to interim Chief Marketing officer. She then joined Optimizely, a B2B software company, as Chief Marketing Officer and later served as the Director of Marketing at Google and YouTube. Jessie holds a Bachelor’s in History from the University of Pennsylvania, a Bachelor’s in Economics from The Wharton School and an MBA from Stanford University, where she was an Arjay Miller Scholar.   Links: Jessie’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessiebecker/ Impossible Foods: https://buy.impossiblefoods.com/ Podcast Website: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/podcast Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/
Bain and Company’s Stu Berman joins Robbie to talk about what makes the Net Promoter System (NPS) Loyalty Forum itself so powerful for the members and for Bain. They also explore how the best organizations build customer-centricity into the fabric of their businesses, a core value of NPS. They discuss the value of creating a private community for senior executives across different companies to meet and discuss, how a subscription can be used to deepen relationships with key customers, and the importance of always listening to your customers first. Highlights from this episode: 4:10 - How the NPF Loyalty Forum remains an open environment for members to speak about their companies without holding back 10:08 - The origin story of the forum - how Fred Riechheld’s book lead to one of the most powerful discussion rooms 12:50 - How the forum has created a community that members never want to leave 15:00 - Subscription as a marketing tool or strategic element 16:17 - The benefits offered by the forum to keep its high-profile members engaged and open 19:20 - Stu gives a look inside the Loyalty Forum and the types of conversations that its members love so much 24:10 - Changes in the world of NPS and securing loyal subscribers over the past decade 28:03 - Stu’s advice for smaller firms and subject matter experts on creating a community around their practice or expertise 31:10 - Robbie’s Speed Round   Stu's Bio: Stuart Berman currently runs the NPS Loyalty Forum at Bain & Company where he works to build forever relationships with customers, employees, and partners. He spent the early years of his career as a management consultant at Bain before becoming General Manager of Intuit’s online store. He then worked in startup companies for a number of years before going to work as a Group Product Manager at eBay. Stu obtained a BA with a dual major of Economics and Mathematics/Computer Science from Wesleyan University and an MBA from Stanford University. He has over 20 years of business management and development experience. Links: Stu’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stuartberman/ Bain and Company’s NPS Loyalty Forum: https://www.netpromotersystem.com/resources/the-nps-loyalty-forum/ Robbie’s Website: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/ Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/
Charity: water’s MZ Goodman joins Robbie to share how she is applying subscription model best practices to a nonprofit. They discuss how MZ leverages content marketing and digital community strategies developed in her work at The New York Times, Glossier and goop to build a donation-based subscription model, how they’ve leveraged a single 20-minute video to raise millions, and how to think about a Forever Promise in the context of engaging donors. Highlights from this episode: 2:00 - The birth of The Spring, charity: water’s subscription program 5:44 - Why a mission is the most important factor for attracting subscribers 7:15 - The importance of building a brand based on quality over charisma 11:00 - How to lure customers in with emotion, and make them stay through strong relationships 15:00 - Why charity: water is allowing subscribers to press “pause” during the COVID-19 pandemic to combat high churn rates 17:26 - Ways for nonprofits to allow members to remain active without opening their checkbooks 19:00 - MZ’s advice for product leaders who want to transition to the nonprofit world 20:24 - the differences between building a community at a news company, a make-up company, and a nonprofit 24:20 - Robbie’s Speed Round MZ's Bio: MZ Goodman is a product and marketing executive with expertise in digital products and subscriptions. MZ began as the Product Management Executive Director for The New York Times in 2007, managing the digital product team as the company first created its online subscription product. From there, MZ joined Ralph Lauren as Product Management Senior Director and was then recruited to join the leadership team at goop. After goop, MZ joined Glossier as Vice President of Digital and Business Insights. She now serves as Senior Vice President of Subscription at charity: water where she oversees consumer and subscriber revenue. MZ earned a BA in journalism from Boston University and an MBA from Columbia Business School. Links: MZ’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mz-goodman/ Charity: water’s The Spring: https://www.charitywater.org/donate/the-spring?utm_medium=ppc&utm_source=adwords&utm_content=spring_sitelink&utm_campaign=sitelinks_paid&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8qfi24rl6wIVzMDACh0cdQYdEAAYASABEgJ_KfD_BwE Robbie’s Website: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/ Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/
Dan McCarthy, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business, joins Robbie to share his expertise on the intersection of marketing and finance. They discuss why customer lifetime value is such an important and misunderstood metric, how to rethink the way companies are valued by the public markets, and what all of this means for subscription businesses. Highlights from this episode: 2:50 - Dan introduces Customer Based Corporate Valuation (CBCV) 4:08 - The importance of knowing your customer data 8:46 - Dan’s time working with CBCV at Blue Apron 12:17 - The importance of focusing on the right metrics 15:18 - The challenges of a physical subscription 17:28 - The cycle of Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) 24:11 - How COVID-19 has impacted customer behavior 27:44 - Dan’s advice for entrepreneurs 28:36 - Dan’s Advice for academics at the intersection of research and commercial 30:00 - Robbie’s Speed Round Dan's Bio: DANIEL MCCARTHY is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Emory University's Goizueta School of Business. Among other things, he’s an expert on valuing companies by focusing on the lifetime value of their customers—a novel approach at the intersection of marketing and finance. His approach, which has won him many accolades, is known as “customer-based corporate valuation” (CBCV). His research has been accepted and published in top-tier academic journals, as well as nearly every major financial publication, from HBR to the Financial Times to CFO Magazine. In 2015, he co-founded a predictive analytics company, Zodiac, which was acquired by Nike in March 2018. Dan subsequently co-founded Theta Equity Partners to commercialize his work on customer-based corporate valuation. He earned a BSc, a BS, and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Links: Dan’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielmcc/ Dan’s Website: http://danielminhmccarthy.com/ Dan at Emory University: https://goizueta.emory.edu/faculty/profiles/daniel-mccarthy Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/ Robbie’s Website: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/
Greg Piechota, Researcher-In-Residence at the International News Media Association, joins Robbie to discuss the increasing importance of subscriptions and reader revenue in a world of declining ad sales. They talk about the value of studying one industry to gain insight for another, new models for advertisers, and the importance of customer-centricity in any subscription business. Highlights from this episode: 2:20 -- How Greg’s career took him from Poland to Massachusetts to Oxford 3:40 -- The importance of looking across industries to develop insights 6:13 -- How data causes companies from different industries to start competing with each other 9:41 -- Greg’s advice for companies dealing with competitors who come from different spaces but target the same customer 10:37 -- Advertisers that take on new business models in retail, media, and e-commerce 17:38 -- The importance of customer centricity, especially in a subscription business 24:20 -- Greg’s advice for companies that want to move to a subscription model but are worried about the cannibalization risk and leaving money on the table during while they are in between models 28:05 -- Subscriptions as a way to stabilize a business model 30:20 -- Greg’s advice for entrepreneurs and executives, in any industry, who are trying to build robust subscription businesses 31:00 -- Robbie’s Speed Round Greg's Bio: Grzegorz "Greg" Piechota studies technology-enabled disruption patterns across industries, with a focus on business model innovation in news media. Greg is a former media executive with 20+ years of industry experience. He began his career at Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza in 1996 as a reporter in one of the smallest local offices, and then rising to a news editor and a vice-president of Agora Foundation. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University from 2015-2016 and continued as a Research Associate at Harvard Business School for three more years. Following his time at Harvard, he moved to Oxford where he conducted research at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. He now serves as a Researcher-In-Residence at the International News Media Association (INMA), and a board member at various media, software, and e-commerce companies. Links: Greg’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/grzegorzpiechota/ Greg at the INMA: https://www.inma.org/modules/event/2019ReaderRevenue/about-greg.cfm Robbie’s Website: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/ Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/
Anthony Napolitano, VP and General Manager of HP’s Instant Ink Subscription Service, joins Robbie to discuss his role as an intrapreneur, and what it’s like to be the subscription guy in a transactional business. They cover running a physical subscription business, ensuring customers get full value from their subscriptions, and managing a business in times of change. Highlights from this episode: 1:40 -- Anthony’s journey at HP 4:13 -- The birth of Instant Ink 6:42 -- Additional challenges of being a physical product subscription 10:57 -- The metrics used to diagnose problems or anticipate opportunities within the business 13:05 -- Addressing and solving Instant Ink’s key consumer issues 18:43 -- How Instant Ink caters to its superusers 21:54 -- The importance of a company continuing to evolve with the needs of the customers 23:21 -- Onboarding to ensure a customer gets the value they are paying for 28:26 -- Anthony’s contribution to HP as a whole 30:26 -- Advice for fellow intrapreneurs who are leading subscription in businesses that don’t typically do subscriptions 34:37 -- Anthony’s lessons learned and business approach during the COVID-19 pandemic 38:20 -- Robbie’s Speed Round Links: Anthony’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anthonynapolitano/ Hewlett-Packard’s Instant Ink: https://instantink.hpconnected.com/us/en/l/ Podcast Website: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/podcast Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/ Anthony's Bio: Anthony Napolitano specializes in profitably scaling subscription businesses. Anthony joined Hewlett-Packard in 1997 as a financial analyst in the Notebook Computer Division. Over the next 23 years he progressed through various levels of management in the areas of Finance, Global Supply Chain, Procurement, Quality and General Management. For the past five years, he has served as the Vice President, General Manager of HP’s Instant Ink Subscription Service. Anthony earned a BA from Loyola Marymount University and an MBA from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.
Piper Rosenshein, VP Subscription Video Services at A+E Networks, shares her tips for creating a customer-centric approach and a lasting digital subscription model. Join Robbie and Piper as they discuss how to operationalize a digital subscription businesses, how to minimize cannibalization in a business that already has a successful model, and how to manage a recurring revenue business in a time of change. Piper's Bio: Piper Rosenshein is Vice President, Subscription Video Services (SVOD) at A+E Networks. In this role, she is the general manager of A&E Crime Central, Lifetime Movie Club and HISTORY Vault, and she oversees all aspects of the business. Prior to joining A+E Networks in 2017, Piper was the Executive Director of Customer Experience at The New York Times. She has deep expertise in CRM, email marketing, direct marketing and eCommerce garnered through previous professional roles at American Express, Barnes & Noble, Coach, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Piper received a BA from Tulane University and an MBA from New York University. Highlights from this episode: 1:50 -- Piper describes her career path and experience with subscription businesses 4:08 -- Why Piper chooses to work at companies with a membership mindset 5:40 -- Subscription vs. retail business models 6:53 -- The start of subscription at A&E (Lifetime Movie Club and HISTORY Vault) 10:23 -- The metrics used to measure success within the new subscription products 13:21 -- Linear audience vs. Subscribing audience 15:53 -- The importance of data and customer feedback 17:42 -- The role of A&E’s “vault” in building their subscription 19:37 -- The challenges and opportunities brought by COVID-19 21:04 -- Balancing caring for the community and making smart marketing moves 23:16 -- How A&E onboards for engagement in response to a spike in usage 25:21 -- Financial vs. non-financial goals 26:10 -- Robbie’s Speed Round Links: Piper’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/piperrosenshein/ A&E Networks: https://www.aenetworks.com/ Lifetime Movie Club:https://www.lifetimemovieclub.com/ HISTORY Vault: https://www.historyvault.com/ Podcast Website: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/podcast Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/
“Everybody gets the free. But if you want the really good stuff, you cross the velvet rope and subscribe.” Adam Taggart, President and Co-Founder of Peak Prosperity, joins Robbie to talk about his tips for building a community of subscribers that will grow into superusers who generate content of their own. They discuss how to handle a spike in acquisition, building a lifestyle subscription business with no outside capital, and how to create a “tribe” of highly engaged members. Adam's Bio: Adam Taggart is the President and Co-Founder of Peak Prosperity, a website that helps millions of people prudently prepare for the future. In his partnership with Chris Martenson, Adam handles the business and subscription side of the company. Adam began his career as an investment banking analyst for Merrill Lynch. He then went on to work in startups before starting at Yahoo!, where he worked for nine years and served as a Vice President. Adam earned a BA from Brown University and an MBA from Stanford University. Highlights from this episode: 2:16 -- Adam discusses his journey from Wall Street to beekeeper 7:00 -- Peak Prosperity’s business and subscription model 10:25 -- The “eight forms of capital” 11:20 -- Peak Prosperity’s efficient marketing and outreach technique 13:30 -- Turning viewers into members 14:20 -- Building community expectations and guidelines to promote quality engagement 16:04 -- The “tribe” within Peak Prosperity 16:30 -- How Peak Prosperity creates and maintains “superusers” 18:11 -- Managing a spike in acquisition 20:00 -- Making sure customers who come for coronavirus advice choose stay for other content 22:38 -- Adam’s advice for “working stiffs” 25:01 -- Building a subscription business with no outside capital Links: Adam’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/adamtaggart/ Peak Prosperity: https://www.peakprosperity.com/ Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION : https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/ Get Robbie's free ebook on how to launch your own subscription business : https://pages.robbiekellmanbaxter.com/launch Podcast website and transcript: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/peak-prosperity-adam-taggart/
A good product manager “meets customer needs and solves customer problems and fuels the business”. Jennifer Mazzon, Chief Product Officer at Thrive Global, joins Robbie to discuss her experience as a product expert. They cover finding the right team, how to build digital subscription products, and the importance of customer-centricity and knowing who your superusers are. Jennifer’s Bio: Jennifer Mazzon is a product management expert who specializes in subscription-based products. Throughout her career she has led product teams for organizations including Google Docs, Coursera for Business, Apigee, Colibri Group, Education.com, and Rocket Lawyer. Jen recently joined Thrive Global as Chief Product Officer, where she works with Arianna Huffington to unlock human potential. Jen received a Bachelor’s Degree from Yale University and an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Highlights from this episode: 3:38 – Jennifer talks about the different product cultures of companies she’s seen 5:30 – Thrive Global’s mission 7:45 – Jennifer shares her experience of managing a product team under the unusual circumstances of COVID-19 and the changes that Thrive Global has made in light of the pandemic 10:49 – Why Thrive Global has made content more accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the power of partnerships with companies such as Snapchat 11:58 – Robbie asks Jennifer about the most important metrics she uses to gauge success 15:25 – Jennifer explains the role of a product manager, and how Thrive Global attracts in-demand product managers 21:42 – The differences between what makes a product manager good in a subscription business and what makes a product manager good in a transaction business 23:50 – Jennifer explains her process of understanding and hearing customer needs 26:36 – How to convince traditionally non-subscription companies about the importance of customer membership 27:01 – Jennifer gives advice to entrepreneurs and executives who are stepping in to the position of being product team leaders 28:53 – Jennifer gives advice to senior team members who are working with product people 31:31 – Robbie puts Jennifer through a series of rapid-fire questions Links: Jen’s LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenmazzon/ Thrive Global : https://thriveglobal.com/ Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION : https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/ Get Robbie's free ebook on how to launch your own subscription business : https://pages.robbiekellmanbaxter.com/launch Podcast website and transcript: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/thrive-global-jennifer-mazzon/
“Our goal is to teach forever habits.” Joanna Strober has reimagined the youth weight loss industry through her wellness program, Kurbo. Tune in to hear Joanna talk with Robbie about the role of a human coach in a digital program, how to communicate with both parents and kids, and instilling habits in customers for the long term. Highlights from this episode: 7:00 – Joanna talks about what triggers people to enroll in subscriptions and what motivates people to make subscription a habit 9:52 – Robbie and Joanna talk about the 7 key areas of competence in a subscription business, and about why WW is more passionate about their subscription mission than their subscription product 16:40 – Joanna talks about Kurbo’s FOREVER PROMISE 17:24 – Kurbo’s “reverse freemium” model, and the power of breaking the mold when it comes to adopting a subscription model 19:50 — Robbie and Joanna talk about customer success, its importance, and what it looks like 23:50 – Joanna explains why human connection is essential and hints at Kurbo’s “Secret Sauce” 27:00 – Weathering negative social media storms 34:40 – The challenges of the launch, scale, and lead phases of growing a business 37:00 – Joanna gives advice to entrepreneurs who want to start a business in THE MEMBERSHIP ECONOMY and investors who want to fund a business in THE MEMBERSHIP ECONOMY 39:22 – Joanna gives advice to smaller companies undergoing acquisition by a larger company 40:20 – Robbie’s speed round Joanna’s Bio: Joanna Strober is an entrepreneur and investor who founded Kurbo, the first digital weight loss platform for kids. Joanna grew Kurbo into a subscription business so successful that it caught the interest of WW (Weight Watchers reimagined), one of the biggest names in wellness. She is currently the CEO of Kurbo and a Senior Vice President at WW. Before diving into the weight loss industry, Joanna was Senior Managing Director at Sterling Stamos, and co-authored Getting to 50/50. Joanna earned a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Pennsylvania and a JD from UCLA school of Law. Links: Joanna’s LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/in/joannastrober/ Kurbo : https://kurbo.com/ WW : https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/ Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION : https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/ Podcast Website: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/podcast
“Life is too short to play vacation roulette”. Brad Handler and his brother Brent are vacation entrepreneurs who incorporate membership and subscription into their luxury travel service, Inspirato. Brad joins Robbie to discuss the importance of “celebrating failure” when innovating, how a strategic approach to real estate and data give Inspirato a unique advantage, and the power of a “people-as-a-service” structure to create strong member relationships. Highlights from this episode: 2:08 – Brad introduces Inspirato’s affordable business model 5: 49 – Brad explains the two travel products and services offered: Inspirato Membership, and Inspirato Pass 10:04 – Hospitality vs. real estate in the vacation business, why Brad chose to focus on hospitality, and the importance of specialization in a company 11:03 – Brad and Robbie discuss subscription vs membership business models 12:25 – Inspirato’s forever promise, and why a membership mindset is so important 14:03 – Brad highlights the importance of planning for success in the entrepreneurial world 16:07 – How Inspirato uses technology to pull ahead of its competitors 16:65 – Brad and Robbie get into the “nitty-gritty” of Inspirato’s business model, and talk about Robbie’s 7 steps for optimizing subscription business models 18:45 – Brad introduces his philosophy of “celebrating failure” to promote innovation 21:03 – Inspirato’s most important metrics, and how data collection can transform and improve customer experience 26:30 – Brad and Robbie discuss Inspirato’s key to lasting members: a personalized onboarding process 31:08 – Why Inspirato has decided not to make any services “free” 32:31 – How Inspirato is structured for profitability 34:12 – Brad and Robbie talk about the importance of customer satisfaction and success 37:01 – Brad and Robbie discuss how human relationships are a part of Inspirato’s success 37:55 – Brad offers advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and explains why passion is an indispensable asset 39:40 – Brad shares his tips for working alongside family, and how he and his brother have grown to be so successful together 41:58 – Robbie puts Brad through a round of rapid-fire questions Brad’s Bio: Brad Handler is an entrepreneur redefining the luxury travel industry. Brad began his career first as an engineer at Apple, then as an attorney at a top Silicon Valley law firm, and then at eBay as their first in-house counsel from 1997 to 2001. But he is best known for his innovation in the world of destination travel clubs. In 2002 Brad founded Exclusive Resorts with his brother Brent and served as the company’s CEO and chairman. They have since gone on to create Inspirato, a vacation service providing personalized, high-end travel experiences. Brad earned a bachelor’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law. Links: Brad’s LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/in/brad-handler-8757a/ Inspirato’s website : https://www.inspirato.com/ Brad’s first company, Exclusive Resorts : https://www.linkedin.com/company/exclusive-resorts/
Subscription models are crazy powerful. Savvy small companies can easily deploy them to knock huge Goliaths off kilter. We’ve seen it in entertainment, software, hardware, news, retail, hospitality—the list goes on. In her podcast series, Robbie Kellman Baxter interviews the leaders of this revolution about how they’re using subscription pricing and membership models to redefine the biggest industries and generate predictable recurring revenue along the way.
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