Getting To 100 Million: A Podcast Interview with GovDelivery CEO Scott Burns

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Last November, GovDelivery reached the impressive milestone of 100 million users, and that milestone was the topic of a recent episode of an industry podcast. GovDelivery CEO, Scott Burns, recently talked to Alex Theuma about how the company reached 100 million users for Theuma’s podcast, The SaaS Revolution Show. Part of the SaaScribe community, the podcast spotlights different “software as a service” companies and talks to leaders in the field about strategies they use to achieve their goals. Here are three things you’ll learn about GovDelivery by listening to the podcast:

#1: How GovDelivery’s existence connects to pizza

Burns’ college in New Hampshire was one of the very first connected campuses, with an early email system called BlitzMail. He worked to build student attendance at the events through BlitzMail through a funnel where he would get students on an email list to help them learn about the event so they would show up and participate. Based on these experiences, he said, “We found that pizza was the most effective way to get a college student to come to anything so we’d get that in the subject line.” He used his experience with this system and his work with a SaaS business at McKinsey to develop the idea of providing a communications system for the government.

#2: Three ways Burns tries to divide his time

From a small startup acquiring its first clients to an established company with 250 employees and 100 million users, GovDelivery has undergone significant changes in its sixteen years. Burns’ leadership approach has changed with GovDelivery. In the beginning, the team relied “heavily on just a couple of co-founders and their talents and energy to drive different things.” But as GovDelivery changed, he focused more on his judgment as a leader as opposed to his output, investing his time in getting the right people to the do the right things. Now he aims to divide his time in three: one part is focusing on obtaining new talent; the second is working on product and strategic direction; and the third is achieving a real connection with clients.

#3: What GovDelivery is taking from Uber and Amazon

After reaching 100 million users, what’s next? To reach more users, GovDelivery must grow its client base. One of Burns’ strategies is to shift public perspective of GovDelivery from just a communications platform to a way of engaging a full citizen experience. Instead of just general communications updates, he wants to focus on more individualized communications that “look more like Uber and Amazon than you would typically expect from government.” The company has invested in add-on capabilities and acquisitions to enhance functionality and learning, all in the goal of focusing the citizen experience.

The podcast contains all this information and more, providing a valuable insight into Burns’ perspective and GovDelivery’s strategies. It is a great way to learn more about GovDelivery as well as more general leadership, growth, and development strategies that can be applied to your own situation. For more from Burns, check out his blogs on reaching 100 million users, predicting the 2016 government communications market, and thinking small in civic tech for big impacts.

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