Technology Women Who Lead

Sarah Stockdale Is Harvesting Personal Growth In Budding Business Professionals with Growclass

Growclass

Growth marketing and tech industry expert, Sarah Stockdale, launches Growclass; a completely vitrual growth marketing program for entrepreneurs.

They say success is a product of the right timing. For Sarah Stockdale the time between ideation and actualization was five years. After buying the domain for Growclass, a growth marketing program that functions completely online in 2015, her personal career took off and took precedence. 

While working in San Francisco at the former tech startup, Tilt, Stockdale’s task of bringing the team’s marketing knowledge up to industry standard, became complicated by the lack of accessible and inclusive resources. 

“I’ve been doing growth work my entire career and doing growth marketing for over 10 years. I’ve never thought of it as something that is male or overly aggressive,” says Stockdale, “However as a male dominated field, the networks that are available don’t reflect the people that I hired in my teams. There were no good resources. I couldn’t find welcoming communities with people asking questions when they were new to something.” 

Motivated by the increasing demand for growth marketing expertise in the tech industry, Stockdale set out to supply a solution for the demand herself. Her consulting business, Valkerie [now relaunched as Growclass], was founded three years ago and has been coaching up professionals in the tech industry since. “I knew that these skill sets could no longer be something we would only see in Silicon Valley; that it should be accessible to everyone. So we started building something that reflected the world that we want to see in tech,” says Stockdale.

In our current economic climate, reports have shown not only that minority communities are leading the charge in entrepreneurism but that female lead ventures are growing at twice the rate of other businesses. This is what Stockdale says led to launching Growclass, where any professional at any point in their venture journey can learn essential skills to cultivate success within their company.  

Growclass now provides inclusive relevant support to business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals that are navigating the constantly changing business landscape of today. As a woman who is not only spearheading innovation in her own career, but fostering success within others, Sarah Stockdale is this week’s Woman Who Lead feature. 

Bay Street Bull spoke with Stockdale about Growclass, overcoming self doubt and uncertainty and the structural imbalances that create bias in the tech industry. 

Q & A

As a woman in business yourself, I’m sure you’ve experienced some of the barriers that women, visible minorities and those with disabilities face when they’re either in business or starting a business. There are so many unique challenges that come with that, that have been complicated by the pandemic.  Based on your career in consulting, how would you advise those looking to grow their career, but are facing additional adversity at a time like this?

Imbalances in tech and in every industry are magnified by any crisis. In my career, I’ve always seen the imbalances in tech as structural shortcomings that impact and fall the hardest on the individual. This will feel very personal and in my experience will be seen in passive situations like someone more privileged talking over you at a meeting or passing you up for a promotion. 

Those things feel individual but function as a result of structural imbalance . In tech a lot of founders are looking for a very specific kind of mindset. They’re looking for people to knock down their door for a job. But the reality is not every individual will be celebrated for that kind of behaviour and are given the social leeway to take up space in that manner. 

We need to make structural changes to the way in which we think about who would make a good employee at a tech company or any company for that matter. It’s not just over-confident type-A young white men, but the incredible people I’ve worked with across the spectrum. 

growclass

What is GrowClass offering business owners to help facilitate in creating their own opportunities and standing out from the crowd? What is the essential knowledge that is given through the classes?

Growclass is really for anyone who’s looking to learn and master different tools that grow your business through marketing. We’re taking an experimental framework to marketing. What that means is instead of sitting around and thinking of campaigns, we’re testing things as quickly and as scrappily as possible in real time. So we’re saying, we have this idea, instead of spending a ton of time building it out, let’s test it and get immediate feedback from our users. So what we’re teaching in Growclass  is building an SEO strategy for your business, how to run and optimize Google and Facebook ads, how to write copy on your landing pages, your emails and your ads that convert your customers.

But we’re also teaching a mindset. It’s done in a really lean, scrappy way without a lot of budget or resources. This is done so that we can get good information and create a marketing strategy and also teach them how to convert revenue quickly under unideal circumstances. 

What I asked myself was how do I help people using the skills and the network that I have? How do I help people grow their businesses faster and become successful without needing to raise as much money as they might have in popularized methods?

And what’s the outcome of the course, is there a certification? 

We are a school on LinkedIn, so our students  list their experience with us there. What’s more important to us than any kind of an accreditation, Is the community and enhanced network that you leave with. 

We have a warm and vibrant community of past alumni and instructors. So anyone who takes the course will have access to that forever. Everyone is helping each other with their businesses all the time and that’s become a really great support system that has resulted in opportunities, promotions, jobs and more successful campaigns for our students and their businesses. When you first started out, this was something that you just felt inspired to provide for people with. What was the passion behind that?

I think it’s two things. One is just businesses growing, like just arming entrepreneurs and marketers with tools to grow their businesses faster is something I love to do. And I think there’s a competence and an imposter syndrome barrier happening a lot of the time when things don’t work out. Early in my own career, I questioned my abilities constantly. I think a lot of folks can relate to that. There wasn’t really a place for me to go and know whether or not I was doing the right things or whether I was correct in questioning my abilities. 

With this course in fostering personal and professional growth people now have a place that can provide that reassurance and knowledge. 

5% of the proceeds from the revenue of the GrowClass go to the Red Door Shelter, in support of women facing domestic abuse. A lot of people haven’t considered how self isolation has increased reports of domestic violence. What inspired you to choose that initiative to support?

I think there are a lot of ripple effects following what’s happening with the pandemic. This community of people in need have received less attention. When a person, of any gender or non-binary identity, is in a domestic violence situation and then has to stay in that situation and isolate in that situation, there’s a new danger there. 

They have the fear of getting sick and the need to keep their family healthy as well as the  financial strain that comes with a pandemic. Then on top of that, they have this secondary crisis of being stuck in an unsafe situation. The thought of the compounding effects of self isolation with domestic violence is really scary. I’m so happy to and want to support anyone who’s trying to do anything to help. We looked at a number of initiatives to share revenue with but this one felt like it made the most impact. 

Business strategy is always changing and advancing as the market changes, navigating this in an unstable economy is even more difficult. In what ways can owners focus on business development during an economic downturn? Growclass

I would say a couple of things:

The first one is you’re going to need to throw out the strategy that you created in January or December. Everything has changed. The context that your customers are seeing your product in has changed. Everything about their lives has changed. So you have to throw out what is now not a useful strategy and build something new with your customers very much at the center. 

In order to do that properly, you have to get really good insight into how your customers are feeling, what they are looking for, how has their relationship with your product changed, and what they require in this new reality and adjust that day to day as the day to day position changes. 

A lot of businesses need to be focusing on retention right now. Asking questions like, how do we keep our users? How do we continue to add value to them? This is not just about numerical customer growth, because retention is also a form of growth for your business.

What is like a quick bit of advice that you would give specifically to women in tech who are trying to climb the ladder or branch out on their own? 

I would say like stop qualifying how smart you are. We tend to pad our language with things like, ‘I just had an idea,’ or ‘I was just thinking….’ You are smarter than you think you are and you are smarter than you are made to feel. Don’t pad your incredible ideas with language to make other people feel comfortable. Say what you know to be true and stand firmly in the level of knowledge and expertise you have earned.