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Karen Peacock on growing Intercom from 350 to 600 people

Lead Editor, Intercom

Fiona Lee

@fionahlee

SaaStr’s Harry Stebbings recently interviewed our COO about her journey from Intuit to Intercom.

Their wide-ranging conversation touched on everything from product market fit to the best hiring approach to the role of COOs.

Listen to the episode below. Short on time? Check out the transcript or get the key takeaways below.

What attracted Karen to Intercom

The first time Karen saw a demo of Intercom, she instantly thought, “This is the product that I have needed in every SaaS business I’ve ever run.” After five months of exploratory conversations with Eoghan McCabe, our CEO, about the trajectory of the business, Karen officially came onboard in May 2017. (P.S. Are you also interested in working here? We’re hiring)

What CEOs should look for in a COO

When you’re first starting out, you don’t need a COO. Bring on a COO when your company has a sufficient level of complexity and you need someone to bring together multiple disciplines and functions. The biggest mistake is to hire your polar opposite – long-lasting CEO-COO partnerships are founded on shared principles and goals.

How to retain product market fit

The pace of change in the SaaS industry has never been faster. To stay at the top, leaders need to constantly obsess over their product market fit. Get to the heart of what your customers truly need by watching what they do, not what they say. Ask why they do what they do, rapidly prototype and get feedback.

The most common scaling mistakes

The first mistake is taking your eyes off the customer. Leaders who do so will lose their product market fit.

The second mistake is not having the right amount of process. Not enough process and your team will get pulled in different directions. Too much process and people will get mired in meetings and documentation.

The “freemium model” to hiring

Apply lean startup principles to your hiring process. The fastest way to understand how a person will lead or think in the job is to give them a challenge you’re working on in real-time. Get an honest view of the person’s experience by carefully checking backchannel references in the final stages of the hiring process. Look for a learning trajectory.


Want more lessons on growing and scaling a team? Check out the book we wrote, Intercom on Starting Up:

Intercom on Starting Up