The Breakout Growth Podcast

Acorns VP Growth, Hila Qu, shares how the mobile app leveraged brand building and growth experimentation to attract 5 million investors.

In this episode of The Breakout Growth Podcast, Sean Ellis interviews Hila Qu, the VP of Growth at Acorns. His goal is to deconstruct what is truly driving breakout growth success for Acorns.

Acorns’ growth starts with strong product/market fit and the worthy mission of overcoming the challenges that millennials face with investing. Their solution makes it easy to get started with your first small investment in only five minutes. This includes the time it takes to download the app, create an account, connect your bank and credit card accounts and make your first investment. Once you’ve completed your first investment, Acorns also automates continuous micro-investments via an approach they call roundups. This low friction approach to investing has attracted over 5 million passionate investors to the platform. Growth is primarily driven by brand advocates which can be seen with their strong app store reviews. On iOS alone, Acorns has attracted nearly 500,000 reviews with an average rating of 4.7.  

Hila previously led growth lead at When she joined Acorns it was in a retention leadership role. She soon made the case that the activation lever was a critical driver of retention so she was tasked with managing this lever as well. From there she was promoted to VP of Growth and now has a dedicated growth team of 15 people.   

The growth team did not replace the marketing team. There is still a marketing team that manages brand and PR. Hila credits the strong brand as another important growth driver, so she strives to balance the needs of rapid experimentation and staying within the brand guidelines. Hila’s growth team scope of responsibilities includes customer acquisition, activation, engagement, and referral.  

Because Acorns is primarily a mobile app experience, Hila’s growth team must comply with a fairly rigid release schedule for their experiments. Every two weeks the product development team makes a new release into the app store and Hila and her team must bundle their experiments into these releases. Still, the smooth onboarding, impressive engagement, and referral loops are evidence of a very effective growth testing program.

Learn more about Hila here:

And give Acorns a try here:

Brought to you by Sean Ellis of The Breakout Growth Podcast