Ankoor Dasguupta Of Shisham Digital On The 5 Best Ways to Drive Product Growth

Embracing agile methodologies allowed us to respond swiftly to market changes. When a competitor launched a similar product, we rapidly adjusted our roadmap, released updates, and maintained our market position, showcasing the importance of adaptability in product growth.

In the realm of business, particularly with regard to tech products, growth is the key to success. However, navigating the journey from ideation to expansion presents its own unique set of challenges. How does one devise a strategy to ensure sustained growth of a product in a competitive marketplace? What are the best practices, strategies, and methodologies to accomplish this? In this interview series, we would like to speak to experienced professionals who have successfully driven product growth. As part of this series, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Ankoor Dasguupta.

An advocate of social impact, driven by kaizen, Ankoor is an active speaker process expert and believes in the power of Energy and Energize while bringing to the table a pedigree of 23+ years with a rare combination experience across the spectrum of media — print, digital, mobile, event production & successful pilot projects. Ankoor has been trained from Dale Carnegie in Mentoring to Develop Talent and is also a select member of LEADERS EXCELLENCE at Harvard Square since Jan 2024.

Ankoor has been selected by the International Board of the global Luxury, Lifestyle and Business magazine Passion Vista, for their collector’s edition “CIRCLE OF EXCELLENCE 2024” where Ankoor is on their Cover.

Ankoor is also felicitated with “LEADER 2.0 AWARD” by adgully, December 2023

An avid writer, with more than 50 published articles, Ankoor has regular guest columns in reputed International publications for which he writes. Ankoor is also in the process of becoming a professional PCC Level 2 coach from International Coaching Federation (ICF).

Ankoor is POSH Certified and has been selected to be part of core Committee for POSH at two organizations during his work tenure till now. Ankoor is your non-status quo leader.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before diving in, our readers would love to learn more about you. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

First of all, thank you for having me for this interview. I was an average student and from my high school days I was aware of some of my strengths but not all. One of my strengths was writing. I believe in the magic of the universe that if we want something from our heart and mind in focus, it will happen. I knew that I wanted to be working with media world and I wanted to study it. So, after my specialized Diploma in Advertising & Marketing, the first three years of my career was with GE which prepared me a lot for the world. I am grateful to have quite a few path breaking breaks and the opportunity to work with tough bosses. I got through the leading media conglomerate Bennet Colemen that publishes Times of India, the leading daily newspaper. Post that thigs started rolling with moving from newspaper to India Today which is into magazines and those times the focus was print as Digital has just started gaining traction. I realized quite later in my career what it is that drives me, and it is curiosity and the hunger to learn and work with different teams and cultures. So, when I got an opportunity to get into Yahoo!, I jumped in and from there I believe more magic started happening as I faced and overcame multiple challenges, one of which was ofcourse moving from an industry run on paper and fax machines to a paperless and software enabled environment.

What led you to this specific career path?

So, early in my career, I recognized the power of effective communication and storytelling when I joined The Times of India and then moved on to the India Today Group. I embarked on my professional journey with a passion for creating compelling narratives that resonate with audiences. I started in entry-level positions, learning the ropes of the industry, understanding consumer behaviour, and mastering the art of crafting messages that leave a lasting impact.

Thankfully, during my initial career I got hands on experience with ad operations as well which lead me to better understanding of operations where I could handle clients better once I started heading client servicing.

Can you share the most exciting story that has happened to you since you began at your company?

Well, every day has been exciting, and my team is a big strength. Each day there is a new story which is exciting.

Certainly! One of the most exhilarating moments in my journey with the company occurred during the launch of a marketing campaign. We had meticulously planned a blend to create a buzz.

As the campaign gained momentum, the excitement peaked when our social media engagement skyrocketed beyond expectations with a substantial organic gain in our followers. The audience actively engaged. It was a testament to the resonance of our messaging and the effectiveness of our strategic approach.

What made this experience truly thrilling was witnessing the real-time impact of our efforts on the brand’s visibility and perception.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

On personal front, I am at present in the process of becoming a specialized PCC Level professional coach from International Coaching Federation. I believe in having something to evolve with as a person, as a leader and also with the objective of helping senior executive leaders become better version of themselves.

You’re a successful business leader. What are three traits about yourself that you feel helped fuel your success? Can you share a story or example for each?

My success as a business leader and marketing practitioner has been shaped by a combination of character traits that have proven instrumental in navigating the dynamic landscape of the industry. Here are three key traits, each illustrated by a relevant example:


Early in my career, a paradigm shift occurred with the rapid rise of digital marketing. Recognizing the need to adapt, I immersed myself in learning the intricacies of the digital landscape. Despite having a strong foundation in traditional marketing, I enrolled in digital marketing courses, attended workshops, and encouraged my team to do the same. This adaptability not only positioned our campaigns at the forefront of industry trends but also showcased our ability to seamlessly integrate digital strategies into our overall marketing approach.


In a challenging market scenario, a high-stakes product launch faced unexpected headwinds. Despite meticulous planning, external factors threatened to overshadow our efforts. Instead of succumbing to setbacks, I rallied the team, re-evaluated our approach, and pivoted our strategy swiftly. The resilience displayed during this period not only salvaged the launch but also demonstrated our ability to weather storms and emerge stronger. It taught me the importance of maintaining composure in adversity and using challenges as catalysts for innovation.

Non-Siloed approach

Leading a cross-functional team for a critical project, collaboration became the cornerstone of success. Recognizing the diverse expertise within the team, I fostered an environment where ideas flowed freely, and each team member felt empowered to contribute. This collaborative spirit not only resulted in innovative solutions but also created a sense of ownership among team members. The project’s success was a testament to the power of effective leadership that values collaboration, fosters open communication, and harnesses the collective strengths of a diverse team.

In summary, adaptability, resilience, and a commitment to collaboration and leadership have been pivotal in my journey. These traits have not only defined my approach to challenges but have also been instrumental in driving successful outcomes, fostering innovation, and building strong, cohesive teams.

Do you have any mentors or experiences that have particularly influenced you?

Yes, I have had a professional coach and I have had mentors in different stages in my life.

This has helped me to structure my thoughts better by becoming more self aware and see life from a more clear lens.

What have been the most effective tactics your organization has used to accelerate product growth?

Sharing few interesting things, we did in one of my previous jobs with a product tech company.

Influencer Partnerships and Authentic Advocacy

Collaborating with influencers who align with our brand values and product positioning.

We identified influencers whose personal brand resonated with our target demographic. These influencers not only promoted our products but also shared authentic experiences and use cases. This not only expanded our reach but also created a genuine connection with consumers who valued the endorsement from influencers they trust.

Interactive Content

Creating immersive and interactive content that allows users to experience the product before purchase.

We invested in virtual reality (VR) experiences, and interactive online demos. This not only provided a unique way for consumers to engage with our products but also generated buzz and social media sharing. The hands-on experience increased consumer confidence, resulting in higher conversion rates and positive word-of-mouth marketing.

Community Engagement through Gamification

Implementing gamification strategies to encourage community engagement.

We developed a gamified loyalty program that rewarded customers not just for purchases but also for engagement within our community. This included participating in forums, providing product feedback, and referring friends. The gamification element added a fun and competitive edge, turning our customer base into an active community. This not only strengthened brand loyalty but also fueled organic growth as satisfied customers became brand advocates.

Our community engagement strategy goes beyond traditional marketing. We’ve cultivated a vibrant online community where customers can share their experiences, ask questions, and connect with fellow users. This community serves as a valuable resource for product insights, feedback, and testimonials. Regular Q&A sessions, live product demonstrations, and exclusive sneak peeks keep the community engaged and excited.

By leveraging these tactics, we were able to accelerate our product growth (active users) while fostering a loyal and engaged customer base.

What do you see as the biggest challenge with respect to scaling a product-led business?

Scaling a product-led business presents unique challenges, and addressing these hurdles is crucial for sustained growth. One of the most significant challenges revolves around balancing customer acquisition with user retention and ensuring that the product remains a valuable and indispensable part of users’ lives. Here’s an in-depth exploration of this challenge that I am sharing from my lens –

Balancing Acquisition and Retention

In a product-led business, the initial focus is often on acquiring a large user base. While customer acquisition is essential for growth, the challenge arises when organizations prioritize it at the expense of user retention. Acquiring customers is a front-loaded effort, but sustaining their engagement and loyalty over the long term requires ongoing commitment and strategic initiatives.

Key Components of the Challenge — –

Churn Management

High churn rates can offset the benefits of acquiring new users. Ensuring that customers not only sign up but continue to actively use and derive value from the product is critical.

Solution: Implementing effective onboarding processes, gathering user feedback, and continually iterating on the product based on user insights can help address churn. Additionally, personalized communication and targeted campaigns can re-engage users who may be at risk of churning.

Customer Education and Activation

Users may not fully understand the product’s features and capabilities, leading to underutilization or dissatisfaction.

Solution: Investing in educational resources, such as tutorials, guides, and webinars, can empower users to make the most of the product. Implementing in-app guides and tooltips can also enhance the user experience and drive activation.

Scalability of Support and Infrastructure

As the user base grows, the demand for customer support and the strain on the product infrastructure can increase exponentially.

Solution: Proactively scaling customer support operations, implementing self-service options, and optimizing product infrastructure for scalability are crucial. Automation and AI-driven solutions can help handle routine queries, allowing human support teams to focus on more complex issues.

Product-Market Fit Evolution (this is my favourite topic of discussion)

Achieving product-market fit is a milestone, but evolving the product to meet changing market demands without alienating existing users can be challenging.

Solution: Continuously gathering customer feedback, monitoring market trends, and maintaining agility in product development are essential. A phased approach to introducing new features or updates, along with effective communication, can help manage the evolution of the product without causing disruption.

So, adopting an iterative approach to product development, with regular updates and enhancements based on user feedback. This allows the product to evolve in response to changing market dynamics while maintaining a user-centric focus. Implementing proactive customer engagement strategies, such as targeted email campaigns, in-app messaging, and community-building initiatives. Keeping users informed about updates and fostering a sense of community can contribute to long-term retention. Scaling a product-led business requires a delicate balance between attracting new users and retaining existing ones.

What, in your view, is a good litmus test to screen for a skilled and effective growth manager?

A good litmus test for a skilled and effective growth manager is their ability to demonstrate a track record of sustainable, data-driven results. Look for candidates who can showcase measurable success in driving user acquisition, retention, and revenue growth. Effective growth managers should be adept at leveraging analytics, implementing strategic experiments, and adapting tactics based on data insights to consistently achieve positive outcomes. Additionally, a successful growth manager should be able to communicate a clear growth strategy, emphasizing experimentation, iterative learning, and a deep understanding of the target audience. However, I always say, first look at the attitude of the person you are onboarding.

Can you describe a product growth tactic you or your team has used that was more effective than you anticipated? What was the goal, how did you execute, and what was the outcome?

Certainly, one standout product growth tactic that exceeded expectations in its effectiveness involved the strategic implementation of a referral program. The goal was to organically expand our user base, increase customer loyalty, and drive revenue growth. The surprising success of this tactic highlighted the power of leveraging existing customer advocacy to fuel exponential growth.


The primary goal of implementing the referral program was to tap into the power of word-of-mouth marketing and harness the enthusiasm of our satisfied customers to attract new users. Beyond traditional marketing channels, we aimed to create a self-sustaining growth loop where our existing users became brand ambassadors, driving both acquisition and retention.


The execution of the referral program involved a multi-faceted approach:

Incentivizing Referrals: We designed a compelling incentive structure to motivate existing users to refer friends, family, or colleagues to the platform. The incentives ranged from exclusive discounts and access to premium features to redeemable rewards, creating a win-win scenario for both referrers and their connections.

Seamless Integration: The referral program was seamlessly integrated into the user experience. Users could easily refer others directly from the platform, whether through personalized referral links, in-app invitations, or social media sharing. This minimized friction and made the referral process intuitive.

Clear Communication: Communication was key to the success of the program. We communicated the benefits of the referral program through in-app notifications, email campaigns, and on our website. Clear and concise messaging emphasized the value of the program and how both referrers and new users stood to gain.

Tracking and Analytics: Implementing robust tracking mechanisms allowed us to monitor the performance of the referral program in real-time. This involved tracking the number of referrals, conversion rates, and the overall impact on user acquisition and revenue.

Exclusive Referral Events: Periodically, we organized exclusive events or promotions tied to the referral program. This not only added an element of excitement but also provided an additional incentive for users to actively participate and promote the platform.


The outcome of the referral program surpassed our expectations in multiple dimensions:

Exponential User Growth: The referral program became a significant driver of user acquisition, resulting in an exponential increase in our user base. The viral nature of the program exceeded our projections, showcasing the potency of leveraging existing user networks.

Enhanced Customer Loyalty: Existing users became more engaged and loyal to the platform as they actively participated in referring others. The incentive structure not only attracted new users but also strengthened the bond between the brand and its existing customer base.

Revenue Uplift: The impact on revenue was noteworthy. The increased user base, coupled with the acquisition of high-value customers through referrals, contributed to a substantial uplift in revenue. The program’s success showcased the direct correlation between user acquisition strategies and financial outcomes.

Data for Iteration: The analytics gathered during the execution provided valuable insights into user behavior, preferences, and the efficacy of different incentive structures. This data became instrumental in fine-tuning the program for continued success and identifying opportunities for further optimization.

The unexpected success of the referral program underscored the significance of leveraging the inherent enthusiasm of satisfied customers. Beyond its immediate impact on user acquisition, the program fostered a community-driven growth mindset, where users felt a sense of ownership and pride in contributing to the platform’s expansion.

This experience reinforced the importance of customer-centric strategies in driving sustainable growth.

Based on your experience, what are your “5 Best Ways to Drive Product Growth”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.

During my mid-career, we were working on a product overhaul, aiming to make it more user-friendly. The team had brainstormed numerous features that we believed would enhance the product. However, we decided to take a step back and gather direct input from our users.

Conducting user interviews and surveys revealed unexpected insights. Rather than desiring complex new features, users consistently emphasized the need for simplification and improved navigation. Acting on this feedback, we streamlined the user interface, optimized workflows, and eliminated unnecessary complexities.

The result was remarkable. This experience underscored the importance of placing the user at the center of product decisions. It taught us that sometimes, the most impactful product growth comes not from flashy additions but from a deep understanding of what truly matters to the end user

With my extensive experience in the field have crystallized five key strategies to drive product growth-

1. User-Centric Design

In a previous role, we revamped our flagship product based on extensive user feedback. By aligning features with actual user needs, we saw a 30% increase in user engagement within six months. The lesson here is to constantly iterate based on user insights for sustained growth.

2. Eat and Drink Data (well, almost)

Data whispers to you what next. However, studying data pools itself is an art while taking out actionable insights from data. Then, things such as implementing A/B testing for a new feature yielded unexpected user preferences. By leveraging these insights, we optimized the feature pre-launch, resulting in a 20% increase in user adoption. Harnessing data for informed decisions is pivotal in a competitive market.

3. Strategic Partnerships

Forming a strategic alliance with a complementary product expanded our reach significantly. This partnership not only introduced our product to a new audience but also led to a collaborative feature integration that boosted value for both user bases.

4. Agile Product Development

Embracing agile methodologies allowed us to respond swiftly to market changes. When a competitor launched a similar product, we rapidly adjusted our roadmap, released updates, and maintained our market position, showcasing the importance of adaptability in product growth.

5. Holistic Marketing Campaigns

A comprehensive marketing campaign, combining digital strategies with influencer collaborations, led to a considerable increase in product awareness. The synergy of online presence and real-world endorsements demonstrated the power of a holistic approach in driving growth. Here what also matters is the kind of influencers we choose.

What is the number one mistake you see product marketers make that may actually be hurting their growth outcomes?

The number one mistake I often observe in product marketers is a failure to deeply understand the customer. When marketers prioritize promoting features over addressing genuine customer needs and pain points, they risk creating campaigns that miss the mark. Successful growth outcomes hinge on a thorough understanding of the target audience, their motivations, and how the product uniquely solves their problems. Failure to prioritize customer-centricity can lead to misguided strategies and hinder the product’s potential for sustainable growth.

It has been said that our mistakes can sometimes be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Although a serious oversight during my early career days in Digital, I feel this has a light side as well. I was handling operations at that time and I had sent out an emailer to the wrong publisher database, leading to revenue impact (as we had to do that activity again). Our marketing department had raised eyebrows. However, my boss called me for a face-to-face discussion the next day. You know that feeling I would have had. I went and he was so calm and composed that for a moment I thought I probably did the right thing using the wrong database for the emailer. He just asked me three questions — how I thought about this oversight, how can I avoid such oversight and around ownership. It would have been a 10 to 12 min meeting and later we went out for drinks. So yes, that time I came face to face with a simple practice — developing a deeper eye for detail and learn from a mistake while never repeating the same.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

That’s wonderful! There are quite a few.

Though the name that comes to my mind immediately is Jennifer Lawrence. I identify with her being so real, okay with being vulnerable. Everything about her is so natural. I wish I meet her someday, even if it is for a moment. And yes, she is such a brilliant actor.

The other one is Denzel Washington. I can go on listening to him for hours.

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!

Thank you and our readers. One of my favorite quote is– “The only thing you can control is how you react to things out of your control” (Bassam Terazi). Well, this is an everyday story that helps me channelize my thinking and energies which in turn helps me to craft wonderfully inspiring stories.

First Published on- Ankoor Dasguupta Of Shisham Digital On The 5 Best Ways to Drive Product Growth | by Authority Magazine Editorial Staff | Authority Magazine | Feb, 2024 | Medium

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