Building Freemium Products is Product Management

Michael Pici, Director of Product, Growth at Hubspot, shares how he’s launched freemium products to drive adoption of Hubspot’s premium products, and how the company’s go-to-market strategy shifted as it expanded from a single product to a platform.

Almost every guest on This is Product Management has taken a unique path into product management, but Michael’s story is particularly impressive. While he was working as an insurance salesman, Michael learned about the world of lead generation and inbound marketing. He then discovered Hubspot, the premier technology company in the space, and eagerly joined the company to apply his sales skills in an Account Executive role.

When the executive team at Hubspot announced the company’s plans to expand into a new market and build a new product, Michael was eager to join the new product team. His lack of product management experience didn’t hold him back. In his free time, Michael launched a website that he imagined would look similar to the marketing site for Hubspot’s new product. After growing it to thousands of visitors per month, he emailed a link to the company’s CEO. The CEO was impressed and invited Michael to join this new “startup” inside Hubspot.

As Hubspot shifted from selling a single application for marketing teams, to a platform that helps companies manage the entire customer lifecycle, the go-to-market strategy evolved. The company wanted to leverage freemium products to drive growth - similar to the way Silicon Valley startups such as Dropbox have done it.

Michael shares the team’s strategy for launching these freemium products and maximizing their impact on Hubspot’s bottom line. He differentiates between two different strategies:

  • “Pools”: Grow a large base of free users and test out new monetization strategies over time
  • “Rivers”: Provide a free version of a paid product to convert free users into paid customers

You’ll learn a lot from this episode about go-to-market strategy, SaaS business models, and how product managers can contribute to top-line growth.

Here are the highlights:

  • How Michael approached launching HubSpot’s first freemium products (5:51)
  • Michael shares his strategy for entering new markets (10:25)
  • How Michael measures and maximizes success (15:07)
  • How growth people can collaborate with product and engineering teams (24:54)

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