“Growth Hacking” For Startups In 3 Repeatable Steps

This is how I get my “build brain” and “sales brain” to work together

Joe Procopio
5 min readSep 9, 2021


image by master1305

Growth hacking isn’t just a marketing concept. And it’s more than just trying idea after idea until something goes viral. Growth hacking is an ongoing process that starts with innovations in your product and ends with a larger customer base.

A lot of talk around “growth hacking” makes the concept sound like wizardry. It isn’t. So how do you do it?

I’ve often taken the lessons I’ve learned from successful growth stories like AirBnB, Hubspot, and DropBox, and applied them to my own startups. Over about 20 years worth of learning and doing, I’ve defined a three-stage “growth hacking” process that’s both actionable and repeatable.

The key to executing these “hacks” is accessing both sides of your “startup brain.” Here’s how I do that.

Your Build Brain is thoughtful. Your Sales Brain is aggressive.

Your Build Brain is your creator. When you engage your Build Brain, you need time to focus on clarifying your vision, making your solution maximum useful, and building maximum value into your product.

Your Sales Brain closes the deal. When you engage your Sales Brain, you need to act much more quickly, and without much thought. The actions you take using your Sales Brain need to happen immediately. Time kills deals.

When you try to engage both sides of your brain at the same time, that’s when things like analysis paralysis, stagnation, feature overbuilding, and chasing perfection creep in to your strategy and threaten to take your business down.

After learning this lesson repeatedly, I’ve developed a three-stage process to introduce perpetual growth cycles into my startups. I’ll use three known growth hacking examples and how I used them at each stage of the process.

Stage 1 is all Build Brain

One of the most well-known growth hacks is when AirBnB realized that potential renters often searched for accommodations on Craigslist, so they built a feature for their customers to automatically copy their AirBnB listing to…



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com