As a team grows from the early stages when everything feels fun and crazy into a more mature phase of predictable growth, team structure has to change to support that growth.
When I joined the ConvertKit team in 2016, we had about 20 teammates and $3.5M in annual recurring revenue. Today we have almost 50 teammates and nearly $18M in annual recurring revenue.
So much has changed in the past three years and our organizational structure has matured to handle that change. In the rest of this post, I’ll share how we used to structure the team and how we structure the team today to continue fueling our growth.
The ConvertKit Team Structure at 20 People
At 20 people, the team was divided into teams with a director as leader of each team. The teams were engineering, customer success, marketing, and operations. Each team had between two and six people on it.
Most roles were generic and spanned a broad range of responsibility. Each team was similar to an amoeba, moving from priority to priority as one group. Combined with our fast growth, the small team spent much of our time reacting to whatever felt like it was on fire at the time.
The ConvertKit Team Structure at 50 People
The path from 20 to 50 people saw us add teammates to the teams who most needed help at any given time. Our goal was stopping the fires and starting to do more proactive work.
We filled out the engineering team to add more product development capacity. We added marketing and sales talent to help fuel our growth through direct sales, webinars, and a more robust marketing website.
Eventually we expanded the leadership team to include my role as COO and we brought in new leaders in marketing and customer success. We added infrastructure engineers to the team to help set us up for reliability as we scaled from 10,000 to 25,000 customers.
We brought in support for the team in finance and people, as well as an executive assistant to help improve the ROI of our founders’ time. Finally, we added a ton of firepower to our customer success team to more proactively support our customers on their way to building successful businesses as creators.
How We’ve Gotten Great Results From Each New Teammate
In moving from a stage of craziness to a stage of relative calm, we’ve found a team structure that is working well for us. We have more proactive priorities, our product development cycles are quicker and more impactful, our response times to customer support tickets are down from hours to minutes, and we grow more predictably month over month.
As we’ve approached 50 teammates, we’ve added a layer of structure to the team to encourage decisions to happen closer to the work, allow for more autonomy in setting goals and priorities, and to open up leadership development opportunities for more of the team.
Squads Have Helped Us Move Faster
One of the most productive concepts we’ve introduced is that of squads, which you can see in the org chart above. A squad has functional responsibility for a priority area of the business — whether that’s a functional area of the product or a marketing channel or supporting a specific segment of customers.
Squads consist of 2-4 people, with one person serving as a squad lead. A squad lead has functional responsibility for managing workflow and projects, but they do not have people management responsibilities.
Hiring Specialists vs Generalists
As we’ve grown, we’ve had more budget for hiring and we’ve also had more specific needs across the business.
In the early days, generalists are highly valuable and necessary to play a variety of different roles to keep up with the growth. Then there comes a time where the volume of work grows across the organization and the need for specialists to tackle pieces of that work grows.
Roles like data analyst, front-end developer for marketing, deliverability expert, and account manager are all roles that would’ve been too specific at 20 people. Now, we can’t imagine running the company without those and many other roles.
Focus Your Team Structure on What Drives Growth
Not every team should be structured the same way. My hope in sharing how we structure our 50 person team is that it might be instructional for your hiring plans as you make the similar trek from 20ish to 50ish.
No matter what you do, remember that your team’s structure should serve the growth goals of your organization. It should be clear how each team, squad, and individual fuel the growth of the company based on where they sit on the org chart.