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How Miro Grows: Tactical Lessons From The $17.5B Whiteboard
A masterclass on how to drive SaaS growth. Plus, what we can learn about the PLG Iceberg, product-led sales, 4 different community growth strategies, and breaking into the enterprise.
👋 Welcome to How They Grow, my newsletter’s main series. Bringing you in-depth analyses on the growth of world-class companies, including their early strategies, current tactics, and actionable product-building lessons we can learn from them.
Hi, friends 👋
Since the days of sticks, stones, and hunting wooly mammoths, humans have proven to be inherently creative problem solvers. Wherever you look in history, the trend is crystal clear: we’re driven to create, collaborate, and build things to solve the challenges in the world.
That’s why you’re here reading newsletters like this one.
We are always innovating and pushing our thinking.
And that thinking so often starts with a scribble.
From Oppenheimer discovering the pattern of the atomic bomb, to NASA scientists figuring out the trajectory of Apollo 13, or Zuck and Eduardo Saverin ideating Facebook’s algorithm on a dorm room window.
Miro—the online collaborative whiteboard—is a beast of a SaaS product that’s seen some incredible growth (~10x) over the past 3 years. Here’s a peak into their resume:
It's crazy to think you'd build a product used by 99 of the biggest 100 revenue companies in the US, with a team that's mostly based in Europe 🤯 But Miro has made its mark in the biggest SaaS market in the world.
This impressive growth has been driven by 4 key factors. To help us unpack each of them, along with some super tactical company-building lessons along the way, I’ve teamed up with the G.O.A.T of product and growth—
Aakash fromis one of my favorite writers on the internet. I walk away from each of his deep dives knowing more about product and growth. He cuts through the noise and gets straight to golden nuggets of wisdom. His work is a huge inspiration to me, both as a creator, and as a seasoned product leader with 15+ years of driving growth at companies like Apollo, Affirm, Epic Games, and Google.
Here’s what you can expect in our analysis:
How Miro Started: Powering co-creation for a new era
A crowded market
How Miro Grows: Building a $17.5B Whiteboard
Creating multiple entry points into the enterprise
Miro's world-class PLG Iceberg
Scaling product-led sales: Tactics around building a sales engine
The Miroverse: A Universe of Community-Led Value
Actionable insights 🧠 🛠️
If you only have a few minutes to spare, here are a few of the tactical takeaways from Miro — from a building perspective.
Just because a market is competitive doesn't mean there isn't a space for you: Miro has gone head-to-head with every big name in tech you can think of, from Microsoft to Notion. In a few short years (using 4 key growth facets), they’ve broken away from being nobody’s to category queens.
PLG companies don't need to start with the buyer or a single persona: Many SaaS companies focus on the customer who buys the product. Miro’s strategy focuses on the end user— building a product they love. This creates a pool of internal champions within the org.
The power of the freemium model is that it provides value first, receives money later. Miro keeps paywalls, credit card fields, and pricing pages away from onboarding. By offering unlimited teammates and core functionality for free, they reduce the barrier for teams to start using their platform—encouraging adoption and allowing users to experience the value without immediate cost. This drives their product-led sales engine.
If your product caters to individuals (single player) and teams (multiplayer), seriously consider two different types of onboarding. Individuals and joiners have different Aha moments and points of activation, meaning onboarding should focus on different things.
Artificial invitation mechanisms (i.e refer a friend) are not PLG. Sustainable growth from the product comes from built in in natural product-led acquisition. Don't start a startup where you need to go through someone else to get users.
Product-led sales should be a scientific approach to finding the “hand raisers” using our product. Lead generation at Miro is a continuously optimized and data-driven proccess for finding the 'hand-raisers'. These Product Qualified Accounts (PQAs) comes down to timing, account maturity, and the using the correct medium for reaching out.
Those, and many more nuggets inside…
How They Started: Powering co-creation for a new era
In the heart of Russia, two builders, Andrey Khusid and Nikolay Alexeyev, embarked on a journey that would not only transform the way teams collaborated but also redefine the boundaries of digital workspace.
In 2011, Andrey needed a way for his design agency to communicate ideas to clients who weren’t in the same room.
Traditional online tools were restrictive, and he found the fluidity of IRL brainstorming sessions were often getting lost in digital translations. The duo envisioned a platform where distance would no longer be a barrier, where ideas could flow seamlessly, and where visual collaboration would be as natural as sketching on a piece of paper.
So, faced with a pressing need and a vision around how to solve it, Andrey and Nikolay built RealtimeBoard. It was not nearly as dazzling as Miro both in it’s branding or product.
But it didn’t need to be. It was an internal tool just for their own agency.
However, it planted the seed for what Miro would become. It solved the first-hand problem they were dealing with, allowing them to (1) dog food their own solution, and (2) realize how big of an opportunity building a collaborative browser-based whiteboard was.
I’ve always believed that the whiteboard is where the true magic in a business happens. The whiteboard is where individuals become a team, where ideas become a reality, and where anything is possible.
— Andrey Khusid, CEO
It didn’t take them too long to realize how important of a tool RealtimeBoard was, and they quickly decided to build a company around the product to close the gap in the market.
Their mission: To empower teams to create the next big thing.
But growth over the first few years was somewhat sluggish. Early data is tricky to find, but to put it into perspective it took them until 2018 to raise their Series A of $25M.
At that time, RealtimeBoard was totally under the radar:
Then in 2019, Andrey realized the name and brand behind RealtimeBoard wasn’t very slick. So, the team took inspiration from the renowned Spanish artist, Joan Miro. His paintings came in different shapes with extremely conspicuous colors, and if you peak at their site, you can see his legacy baked into Miro’s playful branding.
And Miro was born.
When 2020 came along and amplified the need for a remote visual workspace, Miro had fine-tuned product with a brand well positioned to build equity in. Since then Miro has rapidly become more relevant with remote work and distributed teams the new norm.
Now it's easily the most popular digital white boarding tool in the world:
This is particularly impressive when you consider how crowded their market is. 👇
A crowded market
We don't just make whiteboards. We make whiteboards people want to use.
—Andrey Khusid, CEO
The digital collaboration market is akin to a bustling Times Square, packed with billboards and neon lights, each vendor vying for your attention. The market, as of Q3 2023, is projected to be valued at $16.7B, expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.3% until 2026. 📈
The sheer numbers make it tempting to call it saturated, but don't be fooled—there's room for disruption. Let's get into the three key areas of the market: the titans, the contenders, and the dark horses.
GROUP 1 - The Titans: Behemoths by Market Cap
Microsoft Whiteboard | $2.1T Market Cap
Differentiator: Seamless integration with the entire Microsoft suite.
Strength: Pervasiveness in enterprise markets.
Weakness: Lacks a focus on UI/UX, considered not as intuitive.
Google Jamboard | $1.9T Market Cap
Differentiator: Part of Google Workspace, emphasizing real-time collaboration.
Strength: Best for Google-centric companies.
Weakness: Easily the worst product on this last, totally neglected by Google.
Atlassian Confluence | $51B Market Cap
Differentiator: Best for technical teams with robust wiki-style documentation.
Strength: Deep integration with Jira and other Atlassian products.
Weakness: Not specifically a whiteboard, lacks visual collaborative features.
GROUP 2 - The Contenders: Agile and Ascending
Figma Figjam | $20B Valuation
(Depending on the EU, will likely be Adobe Figjam soon and jump into the Titan bucket)
Differentiator: Bridging the gap between design and ideation.
Strength: Seamless integration with Figma's design tools, making it a one-stop-shop.
Weakness: Still a new entrant; features are light.
Miro | $17.5B Valuation
Differentiator: The best-in-class user interface and an expansive template library.
Strength: Highly versatile, catering to different industries.
Weakness: Pricey for small businesses.
Notion | $10B Valuation
Differentiator: Collaboration workspace with notes, wikis, and tasks.
Strength: Extreme customizability, beautiful.
Weakness: Steeper learning curve, no real whiteboard surface.
GROUP 3 - The Dark Horses: Ones to Watch
Lucidchart | $4B Valuation
Differentiator: Focused on diagramming and data visualization.
Strength: Strong automation features.
Weakness: Limited collaborative capabilities.
Whimsical | $600M Valuation
Differentiator: Emphasizes speed and simplicity.
Strength: No-frills, fast whiteboarding.
Weakness: Limited feature set.
Ziteboard | $100M Valuation
Differentiator: Online tutoring and teaching focus.
Strength: Specific use-cases such as education.
Weakness: Limited enterprise features.
It's an intensely competitive market.
Let’s see how Miro has broken away and is winning in it. 🚀
How Miro Grows: Building a $17.5B Whiteboard
After spending many shared hours studying Miro, it’s clear their growth is driven by 4 overarching pillars.
Creating multiple GTM entry points into the enterprise
Crushing the 8 layers of model we call the Product-Led Growth Iceberg
Blending PLG with product-led sales, and building a data-driven sales engine
Leveraging 4 powerful strategies powered by community
We go deep into each pillar, bringing you (1) tons of insights into how Miro is growing, and (2) actionable takeaways on how to use them to drive growth with your own product.
Let’s jump in.
1. Creating multiple entry points into the enterprise: A bottom-up GTM playbook on persona-led marketing and end user centricity
Miro’s PLG go-to-market is an excellent example of a B2B software leveraging multiple persona’s as part of their bottom-up motion.
By bottom-ups strategy, we mean, instead of focusing on a top -down sales cycle towards software buyers (i.e CTOs, CIOs, VPs, etc), Miro opens up their product for self-service, targeting adoption from the end users.
This strategy is all about focusing on acquiring users (not customers) and letting them initiate a domino effect into the rest of the company. Suddenly, the PM who wondered in to try a Miro planning template has invited their team. Next thing you know… (and a few more next things)… they have 99% of the Fortune 100s as their customer.
It’s super powerful, because instead of needing to invest heavily in paid marketing or lengthy cold sales cycles, most leads for sales come in through current users wanting to upgrade (more on the power of product-led sales in a bit). It works so well because at that point, it's a very different sales conversation to help them “buy” when they've already have an internal champion who's bought in the tool, and they're really the one leading and driving the sale within their organization. It’s extremely efficient.
In a way this is similar to the concept of breaking into a market with a beachhead strategy, except it’s like breaking into large enterprises by focusing on the foot soldiers.
Now you might be thinking, “this just sounds like cookie-cutter product-led growth.” However, where Miro differs from the typical bottom-up GTM motion is their obsession with (1) carving our various unique end user personas, then (2) prioritizing usability for these individual contributors above all else, then (3) largely staying out of their way until they drive product-led acquisition loop.
And here lies the first lesson from Miro’s GTM.
Build a product the users love, so they can go to bat internally for you 😍
In practice, this means sweating the details. For Miro, it means finding tiny things that only the product manager spending 3 hours a day in Miro will notice, and prioritizing it. These continuous usability improvements, like making something one click instead of two, compound and make Miro something PMs love. And that’s why they become advocates and email their boss asking to upgrade Miro.
When your user is the PM or engineer, but your customer is the enterprise, there’s a balance between building for the final decision makers (what sales will ask you for), vs building for the user (what customer support will ask you for). The CISO cares about security and compliance, but they person living in the tool cares about how fast and well it helps them get their job done.
Sure, Miro builds the necessary stuff that will get enterprise contracts inked. But above all else, they’re deeply user centric. It’s one of their 8 codified product principles: End-user adoption before top-down decision makers
To understand that in the context of selling a product like Miro, here’s a quick rundown of who’s involved in buying software:
All five types of SaaS decision makers are important. However, Miro’s focus is specifically on user personas, not (as with lots of other SaaS) buyer personas. A seemingly small detail, but a mindset that overtime shapes the product in a very specific way.
Miro constantly studies and learn from users, understanding how they use the product, and gathering and actioning insights. By identifying what makes people sign up, upgrade, or churn, it’s helped them constantly iterate and improve. And a huge part of this centricity is knowing that engineers, PMs, and marketers care about fundamentally different things.
This is where Miro has leaned heavily into user segmentation (personas) to drive personalization and open up multiple beachheads. 👇
Create multiple batsmen
Consider baseball (or for our non-US readers, cricket). The more great batsmen you have on your team, the higher the chances of hitting home runs. This is because you have optionality. It’s a similar story with bottom-up SaaS. If you focus on one type of user, you have just one wedge into the larger company. If that sole user type strikes out for any reason (i.e they are a poor influencer in the org, they get fired, they don’t use the tool enough themselves to kickstart any PLG loop), then your odds of getting that company as a customer go way down.
Take Figma. They have one ICP/batsmen—the designer. If Figma wants to sell to whatever company but the designer isn’t interested, odds are Figma ain’t getting used.
But if you look at Miro (same with Slack and Notion), their product—an online collaborative whiteboard—lends itself to serve multiple potential batsmen. In Miro’s case, they reveal these personas as teams on their website.
If Spotify’s marketing team are not interested in Miro, but their designers love using it to brainstorm with engineers, then that persona becomes Miro’s point of attack to break into Spotify and win the account. It’s like hedging their bets.
This clear breakout of teams is a highly effective part of Miro’s GTM as it increases their shots on goal. But, applying this strategy is not as simple as just coming up with some personas you think you should target and slapping their names on a landing page.
One of us (Jaryd 👀) knows this first hand, having made this mistake in the early days of his startup. Building and positioning your product against personas goes way deeper than just a top-of-funnel page to capture sign ups. Personalization needs to bleed into the Whole Product.
So, let’s break down how to apply Miro’s artistic stroke of applying user personas, so you too can expand your surface area for acquisition and build a product folks love.
How to determine if you need different user personas
Here’s the short answer: If you plan on delivering a product that resonates with users, aligns with their needs, and provides huge value in a competitive market, then creating and using personas is a great strategic move. If gives you the benefit of clarity, focus, and direction across various aspects of operations, from product development to marketing and sales.
Let’s get more specific though. Here’s a checklist to see if you need different personas: ✅
There’s no hard rule here, but the companies that better define exactly who’s using their product tend to win.
⚠️ Keep reading…
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2. Unpacking the 8 layers of Miro’s PLG Iceberg
How well a company is leading with their product can be thought of like an iceberg. The better they’re executing a PLG motion, the deeper and more formidable they’ll be.
The concept of the PLG iceberg will be our guiding light here. Let's go through each layer.
Why an Iceberg? Because what's under the surface requires massive investment:
'It [PLG] only works if you truly believe in it. You can’t just read the cookbook; you have to be excited about getting into the kitchen to make something special.'
— Andrey, Miro CEO
And Miro does truly go all-in.
L1 and L2: The tip → Communicating their value
When considering a new product, the very first thing anyone think about, whether they know it or not, is “How does this product help me solve this problem I have?”.
The problem could be an aspirational one (i.e the desire to feel fancy), or a practical one (i.e I need to drill this hole). If that answer is hard to find or poorly communicated, everything else inside the product doesn’t really matter, because nobody will care to get there.
This is why the tip of the PLG iceberg—the marketing pages, etc—are essential to nail.
For Miro, onboarding begins before folks even enter their email:
They have compelling hero messaging: Enter with a dream. Exit with the next big thing.
They build trust with social proof, showing impressive logos and reviews.
They instantly get users start building familiarity with the product through product images and visuals, demonstrating the value and setting expectations.
They have upfront and transparent pricing (more on this in a bit)
For each user type, they have dedicated landing pages focused on getting those types of ICs to convert
Miro also has a strong content-led growth engine, creating tons of top of funnel pages that make their value proposition crystal clear (we'll go deeper here as well soon)
All of this does a great job at positioning Miro as the perfect solution for remote collaboration challenges, and gets people inspired and motivated to put in the work and hit the Sign up free button.
L3: Removing friction during onboarding
A key to growth is making it as easy as possible for users to get started with the product. You want the product to deliver value ASAP.
It must be flexible, with a low learning curve. If it’s too complicated, users will look elsewhere.
Miro’s capital O onboarding starts right here, with a minimalist step to get the users account setup.
A few things stand out here:
They nudge users to sign up with a work email, but don’t require it. This positions Miro as a business-grade product. For any SaaS selling to a larger company, business sign-ups are way better than personal emails. Less bots, better intent, and better targeting abilities.
It’s basic. There are no fancy visuals trying to over-communicate anything. This means less eyes wandering around the page and potentially dropping off.
They leverage Single Sign On (SSO) only with trusted business-grade authenticator provides.
Then, Miro uses a progressively expanding form. At first, you think that they're just asking about your team:
Once you fill that in, it asks what kind of work you do. It's kind of a bizarre pattern for such a refined experience, but Kyle Poyar's article shows it has been this way since at least August:
Once you repeat yourself, then it asks you if you've used Miro before:
It continues expanding in this fashion. Here is the final list:
It's a pretty long form which goes to say: Miro is not worried about the drop-off from their visit to experience the product. People obviously come to the product with a lot of intent.
But it's simpler than the more designed version that they used to have:
They have tried to minimize distractions for users:
We quickly learned that the interactive beautifications of the flow distracted users from completing the main tasks
— Kate Syuma, Head of Growth Design
They also tested an abandoned a version of Miro that had an AI collaboration partner:
But this version also didn't see any improvement in the Aha moment.
It's great to see how the company has rigorously tested this space. You can find all the details of documents and meetings they used to create alignment in this process here.
This analysis leaves us with one final insight about their current state: Unlike Canva, a big piece of Miro’s onboarding which stands out is: there is no upsell, credit card field, or pricing page in sight while you get setup. Miro uses a freemium model to provide value first, receive money later.
And they are certainly not stingy with the freemium version—it offers a lot of value upfront, allowing an unlimited number of teammates to get started. This was designed to get teams hooked as quickly as possible, in turn driving an internal viral loop.
Remember, while you can use Miro in single player, it works best as a multiplayer tool. AKA, the more people on a team to integrate, the sooner they experience the core value and the more “sticky” it becomes within a team, thus getting them hooked which increasing their chances of upgrading.
Let’s talk about how Miro gets new users to experience their core product value. The aha moment. 👇
L4 and L5: Value discovery, templates, and TTV
The first takeaway around value discovery from Miro is that they do an excellent job splitting in-product onboarding into 2 broad key tranches:
Creators: If you’re the first person from your company or team joining, you have no team to join. So, your job is to create the team.
Joiners: If you’re not the first from your team, you’re joining. They smartly split this into two:
Wild user: You sign up for Miro on your own volition and discover you’re not alone.
Invited user: You sign up because someone on your team sent you a link
Each of those flows has a different path to value, and a different definition of what that first magic moment is.
Consider the flow for Joiners > Wild users. That first moment of value discovery (while not the aha moment), is when you’re joining and you see you’re not alone on Miro! For a tool that’s all about being a virtual workspace, that’s like walking into a new office and seeing your colleges already there. It’s warmer and more inviting, and increases the motivation of getting setup.
Or consider what team-based onboarding looks like for someone who just got invited to join a Miro board—the equivalent of arriving at a party that’s already started.
First thing you do as a good host? You help break the ice.
Miro does this super well by nudging these newly invited users to perform an easy, simple, and delightful collaborative action that removes their fear of engaging with a new tool. Specifically, they created an onboarding feature where new joiners were triggered to “Say Hi” on a board using a reaction. Another collaborator would receive a notification about their reaction, thus encouraging them to start collaborating on the board.
Simple, elegant, and super effective at kicking off collaboration. 🤝
Next, let’s look more closely at onboarding for Creators.
The first big takeaway is how those user persona’s play into personalization while setting up a team and board:
You tell Miro what kind of work you do (i.e product management)
You tell Miro if you’ve used the tool before
You give Miro some company qualifying data (i.e size of company)
Based on that info, Miro segments you into a specific persona. For instance: The first product manager from a big team who has no experience using online whiteboards.
From here, your onboarding experience is vastly different from an engineer who’s used Miro before. As soon as Miro know exactly who you are, they know what your aha moment will be. Everything from here on out is geared at getting you there as fast as possible.
Personalized Aha moments are under-utilized by product teams in an era of one-size-fits-all Reforge frameworks.
And a huge feature they have that’s blended into onboarding—one that cuts a users Time To Value way down—is templates.
For Creators, immediately after account setup they’re funneled into a recommended Miro board. The onboarding guide shows them around the board and how to use it. This use of templates does four important things:
It removes the “blank state”. Nobody is left wondering where to go or what to click.
By instantly being shown a relevant board personalized to your need, your first mile experience is radically improved. You see and experience the promised land quickly. This helps minimize excessive in-product tours or pop-ups. Show >>> Tell.
It’s not only helps with the fast time to value, but it increases the level of time and energy put into using the product by the user from the start. Miro board creators are folks who want to create well made and fully functioning boards so they can proudly take them to their team to collaborate. And that immediate investment people make with thee product has a big impact on retention.
It creates a direct path to inviting teammates to join the board. From the get-go, this opens up their viral acquisition loop.
Of course, templates go beyond just making that first session amazing for the user. Miro has an expansive library of pre-populated boards that consistently expand the product’s use-case horizon. This is absolutely critical for their growth.
Each core use case unlocks new pools of users, expanding Miro’s total addressable market. For example, by launching templates focused on Strategy/Planning/Roadmapping, Miro started to compete with products like Aha! and Productboard.
In a way, templates turn Miro from a tool into a platform without them actually needing to build new integrated products. Great move. ♟️
These templates— like a business model, a customer journey map, pros and cons lists, and a monthly planner— are for just the kind of resources you don't want to reinvent yourself and you just want to get cracking with.
And Miro isn’t just using templates for the user experience—they’re turning templates into a growth superpower in two ways:
Allowing templates to be driven by the community. Miro crowdsources use-case expansion of their product to their users. This creates a much larger library of content than would be possible if done internally, as well as increases their users emotional investment in the product. More on community and the Miroverse coming up.
Using templates to create algorithmically generated SEO landing page. Those persona based landing pages are important, but Miro understands search intent (how and what people search for). In other words, people don’t search for “whiteboarding tool for product managers”—no, they search for “product roadmap template”. And landing pages like this drive a ton of top of funnel value. For Miro, these pages make up 2.77% of all of their organic landing pages, yet, they are driving 29% of the traffic value. 🤯 And that allows them to tear away from the competition.
There are five big takeaways here to drive home: 🛠️
For SaaS with single player and multiplayer modes, think of onboarding as fundamentally different for first-time users creating the workspace, vs others joining an existing team.
If you have personas, think about how onboarding should be personalized for them. And that’s not just about relevant copy and messaging. It’s about understanding what activation is for each persona, what drives each persona to upgrade or churn, and then creating onboarding focused on optimizing each of those metrics per persona.
TTV is how quickly a customer goes from sign up to your aha moment. It’s the best predictor of free→paid conversion, and retention. And what’s the best way to speed up that path to value? Have a really good bridge between what you promise people your product does, and the actual promised land within your product. Templates are a great way to do that.
Run regular usability tests of your onboarding experience with users and non-users to build your product sense muscle. Only by spending a lot of time observing people in your onboarding flow will you find new hypotheses to drive growth.
To run onboarding experiments like Miro:
Try to validate your big investments with smaller first iterations by breaking them down.
Once you have your first results that tell you what happened, blend the numbers by speaking to users. This helps you understand why it happened.
Run a retro on your first iteration, and always run another version of the experiment.
Forming habits around aha moments (L6)
A lot of product-led companies do a decent job with activation metrics. That’s getting someone to take that core action for the first time.
But this 6th layer of the PLG Iceberg is where things start getting more tricky. This is what starts to separate the million dollar companies form the billion dollar ones.
The real drive of sustainable PLG success is where users form a pattern of use around your core value action. This is what drives long term engagement—without any habitual usage you (1) risk a leaky bucket and (2) minimize the products ability to qualify leads for the sales team.
For Miro, success here is rooted in a deep alignment around their north star metric: Active Collaborating Boards.
Most important activities at Miro are focused on driving this metric by finding ways to get users to create more boards and sessions to drive stickiness, then focusing tests around activation and conversion. To keep this as a priority, Miro has created a data driven testing culture, helping them move and learn faster. The faster they learn, the more tests/experiments they run, the more they are able to iterate and drive that north star metric.
This is also where the beauty of their generous freemium plan comes in. Free users can invite unlimited teammates, and general collaboration on a board is not throttled.
That’s a really important takeaway, especially for multiplayer products. Don’t stop people from using your core products utility by limiting product usage. Instead, charge for important adds ons and facilitator features that business accounts or power users need. Another example of this is Slack—you can send unlimited messages, but pay for things that companies need, like message history. Same story with Canva—they are not aggressive about paywalls.
As soon as you cap people from experiencing what your product is about, the less likely they are to form a habit around using your product, and the less likely they are to convert.
Miro also does something else incredible smart to reenforce their value proposition and keep Miro front and center during the work day: they focus on extensibility, thus embedding themselves across other popular tools and creating a powerful united workflow.
Monetization (L7): A pricing & packaging masterclass
Miro employs the basic PLG pricing mechanics:
Virality: Miro's free plan is crafted to encourage users to invite others to collaborate, creating a viral loop. The more people use Miro within a team, the more likely they are to invite new users. This aligns with PLG principles of organic growth.
Product Experience: Miro focuses on providing a delightful product experience, even in the free plan. This encourages users to continue using the product, increasing their chances of forming habits and considering premium plans as their needs evolve.
Monetization of Business Needs: Premium plans cater to the needs of businesses and larger teams, offering features that enhance collaboration, security, and control. This aligns with PLG's principle of converting free users to paying customers by addressing their evolving requirements.
Free Plan Breakdown
Miro's freemium model is designed to attract users and provide them with substantial value without immediate financial commitment. Here's a breakdown of key features in this free tier and why it's effective:
Unlimited Teammates: Miro allows users to invite an unlimited number of teammates even in the free plan. This is a significant draw, as it encourages teams to adopt Miro as their collaboration platform without worrying about restrictions on the number of users.
Basic Templates: While the free plan offers templates, they may be limited compared to premium plans. However, this still enables users to start their work effectively without creating content from scratch.
Core Functionality: Miro doesn't restrict core features that are essential for effective collaboration, such as creating boards (up to 3), adding content, and collaborating in real-time.
By offering unlimited teammates and core functionality for free, Miro reduces the barriers for teams to start using their platform. This encourages adoption and allows users to experience the value without immediate cost.
The generous free plan facilitates a viral acquisition loop. Teams can easily invite others to collaborate, and since there are no constraints on core features, the chances of users inviting their teammates increase. This word-of-mouth growth is a hallmark of PLG.
Then, when we look at their advanced plans, we see that's where they pack in the good things:
Advanced Templates: Premium plans offer access to a broader range of templates, including those tailored for specific use cases. This enhances productivity and customization for teams.
Admin & Access Controls: Premium plans provide administrators with more control over user access and permissions. This is crucial for larger teams or organizations to maintain security and manage collaboration effectively.
Integration & Automation: Higher-tier plans often include advanced integrations with other tools and automation capabilities. This streamlines workflows and boosts productivity.
Support & Training: Premium plans typically come with priority support and training resources. This is essential for businesses that require dedicated assistance and onboarding.
By offering value-added features in premium plans, Miro effectively monetizes the needs of power users, larger teams, and organizations. These features enhance the overall Miro experience and cater to more demanding use cases.
Miro's tiered pricing structure allows users to choose the plan that aligns with their specific needs. This scalability accommodates different user segments, from small teams to enterprises, effectively capturing a broad market.
Miro’s core product-led acquisition loops (L8)
And now we’re way down deep. 🤿 If you can pull off a product-led acquisition (PLA) loop, thus getting one cohort of users to send more users to the top of your PLG funnel, you’ll be well on your way. 🌱
Why? Well, to answer a question with a question, what’s the best channel for acquiring customers?
Whichever helps you scale as cost-effectively as possible. And PLA means your users naturally invite other users while using your product—for free.
Now, the notion of PLA often gets people tripped up. Let’s be clear—having a refer a friend button on your site is not what we’re talking about here. That’s not a natural loop, that’s an artificially incentivized channel that just happens to be accessible from your site/app. It’s less effective because:
Most users don’t care about receiving a small cash reward—especially business users.
Cash incentives attract users who are likely to quickly churn
People get uncomfortable spamming their friends about products
True/natural PLA means you have a network effect, and that allows you to scale to your entire market without breaking the bank.
It’s the gold standard for growth for many reason, but here’s a succinct one from Paul Graham:
Don't start a startup where you need to go through someone else to get users.
Encourage users to invite other users. Think about Zoom. When talking to a lead via Zoom, you’ll ask them to install Zoom in order to chat with you. In doing so, you’ve brought Zoom a potential new customer. Same with a tool like Calendly, PayPal, or Whatsapp. The theme here is that new users should come for the product’s core value—not for a cash reward—otherwise they’re likely to leave.
Turn your product into a billboard. When you send an email from your iPhone, or share a TikTok video, your email signature says “Sent from my iPhone” and our video is watermarked with the TikTok logo. Brilliant billboarding.
Encourage users to make shareable content. When folks like me create content on platforms like Substack, we’re self-motivated to share it with others in order to build our audience.
Trigger word of mouth. Either you create a incredible product experience and you delight users from entertainment (i.e shows on Netflix), or you delight them by eradicating a pain that they’re excited to spread the work.
In Miros’ case, their virility flywheel is #1: Encouraging users to invite other users into their teams.
Miro makes this action super simple, with the goal of getting teams hooked ASAP. Even on the free version, you can choose who has access to the board, invite new members, or share it with whoever. This creates a runway for an efficient viral loop.
Miro has many teams dedicated to working on this:
Having a viral product means you built strong word of mouth and you developed viral feedback loops within the product or your marketing strategy. To reach that point, you need to pick your metrics carefully and be very specific.
For Miro, we focused on how many new people each individual user brought into the product. We knew that was key to organic growth, so we were relentless about it, setting high targets and experimenting with different ways to improve it. That’s the way you plan and develop your way to virality.
— Andrey, CEO
What keeps them united on the singular goal is this focus on the metrics.
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3. Scaling product-led sales: Tactics around building a sales engine
When we talk about the sales ecosystem in SaaS companies, there's often a division between product-led growth (PLG) and a more traditional sales-led approach.
But one doesn't negate the other. In fact, mastering the blend of both is the secret sauce to scaling rapidly and sustainably. It's Product-led sales.
To build a strong, durable business, you need to be customer-centric. By adding marketing and sales layers on top of PLG, we increased our investment in customers, since before, it had been a transactional, self-service business. By doing that, we increased the depth of relationships we have with those customers, and we increased the breadth of customers that we can serve
— Andrey, CEO
Miro has been very open that this is how it approaches sales:
Let's break it down, starting with Miro's 2 main motions, and then ending with the Pricing & Packaging underlying it.
MOTION 1 - EXPANSION: PQA Engine for those Product-Led Acquisition Loops
CEO Andrey refers to 'hand-raisers' as a crucial part of their growth. These are people who voluntarily adopt the product and potentially act as in-house champions.
Let's break down this approach.
The process isn't serendipitous; it's scientific. Lead generation at Miro is treated like a product, continuously optimized. Identifying 'hand-raisers' or Product Qualified Accounts (PQAs) comes down to timing, account maturity, and the correct medium for reaching out.
To scale effectively, you can't operate on gut instinct. The approach is data-driven. Miro uses complex models to identify Product Qualified Accounts, utilizing variables like feature usage patterns, account activity, and more.
Miro tracks "Aha!" moments—instances where users suddenly find immense value, like when a remote team uses Miro for the first time for collaborative brainstorming. These moments trigger a personalized sales outreach, providing an opportunity to upsell or introduce new features.
It took Miro 18 months to build this PQA engine:
Keep your expectations realistic. It took Miro 12-18 months before we arrived at a PQA definition we were happy with.
—Elena Verna, Former Interim CMO at Miro
MOTION 2 - LAND NEW LOGOS: Customized outreach for leads
Miro does zero cold outbound. It's still all warm outbound - reaching people out at the right time. Miro doesn't want to spam users, so it takes the extra few minutes to add the personalization element.
But it still has a team called outbound for sales development. So what is that team doing?
That team is thinking of the Miro enterprise plan as a specific product that they want to land. That enterprise product is built for the security & procurement reviews you typically only see from very large companies. In these companies, people buy from people with their bank accounts, not websites with their credit cards.
They work closely with the marketing team. Marketing identifies leads who might not directly reach out but fit the ideal customer profile. Within those, personas are carefully defined and targeted through precisely engineered marketing campaigns.
As users interact with those marketing campaigns, Miro segments its customers by their actual in-app activities. For example, a user primarily utilizing sticky notes and frames is considered a "Brainstormer," while a user frequently using wireframes may be tagged as a "Designer."
Beyond just activity, Miro also identifies customer intent. If a company uses Miro for strategy planning, its account is flagged for potential enterprise-level engagement with features like unlimited boards and Single Sign-On (SSO).
Then, the land new logos team gets involved.
Timing is everything. Reaching out too early might spook a potential lead. Conversely, late engagement risks losing them to competitors. Miro's 'first outreach' is not just an art but a meticulously tuned science.
Over time, they’ve put together a high ROI motion that consistently lands them new enterprise clients. Miro reaches out to customers when they're ready to scale.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER - Pricing and Packaging for Product-Led Sales
The conundrum for many companies is: what's the package for sales?
For enterprise clients, Miro offers custom pricing that can include bespoke feature sets, higher security levels, and priority support. That becomes the sales plan.
Let’s return back to that pricing page we looked at earlier in the self-serve motion.
The first thing to notice is that this plan has a ton of acronyms: SCIM, SIEM, SLAs… This plan is all about selling to the enterprise buyer that has a set of requirements, a procurement process, the whole shebang.
The second thing to notice is you can’t buy it self-serve! It’s not part of the PLG motion. You have to ‘Contact Us’ (ie, talk to sales) to get the custom plan.
The third thing to notice is there is no price! How much exactly does it cost? We’ll have to go to a second-hand source:
It’s quite the pricy plan! The Business plan is $192 per month, while this is $300. That’s 56% more expensive than the next plan.
But the plan is also a lot more expensive for Miro. There’s an entire Sales & Customer Support team that comes along with it.
That’s what the best Product-Led Sales companies do: they package up all their enterprise features into a plan that is way more expensive and requires talking to sales to buy.
4. The Miroverse: A Universe of Community-Led Value
Community isn't just a buzzword for Miro; it's an integral part of their strategic DNA.
But they didn't always start that way. As Miro's Head of Community explains:
We’ve been thinking about building the community for quite some time. Most obviously after our rebranding from RealtimeBoard to Miro in March, 2019. We really wanted to empower our users, our customers, our partners, and ourselves to do incredible things, learn from each other, and be even more successful with Miro.
Around that rebranding period, we also started to plan the Distributed 2019 event, our annual virtual conference on visual collaboration and remote work, and we gathered the participants in a separate Slack workspace. It was meant for introductions, announcements, and some early discussions before the event. This catalyzed our efforts of bringing people together a bit.
— Marina Perminova
They only began to invest in community in 2019. But since that Distributed event, they have gone all in.
Miro understands that the path to success lies in fostering a community that adds an extra layer of value—a reality that echoes across their various community initiatives.
Four of Miro's community strategies in particular are worth deep-diving:
User-generated content as a differentiator
Community as continuous upsell machine
Transforming feedback loops into strategy sessions
A human-powered community engine
Let's break down each one.
STRATEGY 1 - User-Generated Content as a Differentiator
Free Community Templates: Democratizing Value
Miroverse isn't just a library; it's an innovation hub. Community members upload templates for business models, product roadmaps, user story mapping—the list is endless.
Just in the above screenshot, you can see Zoom creating meeting Miros, professors creating templates, and so much more.
And guess what? These aren't sales gimmicks; they're free. But they generate value far beyond what a traditional sales strategy might achieve.
Why is it free?: Free access acts as a teaser of Miro’s capabilities. It's a low-barrier entry that incites a broad audience to dip their toes in.
As we talked about above, the genius lies in the ripple effect these templates create. Each template upload contributes to an SEO boost, pulling more eyes toward Miro. It's a symbiotic relationship where the community's contributions fuel Miro's visibility, and in turn, Miro's prominence attracts more contributors.
In traditional SaaS platforms, the company dictates how their product should be used. But Miroverse flips the script.
It allows for a diversity of applications:
Need to plan a marketing campaign? There’s a template for that.
Need to track your venture funding rounds? There’s a template for that too.
Miro’s users range from startups sketching MVPs to massive enterprises restructuring their global strategy.
In a saturated market, relying on your internal team to come up with all the use-cases is a losing strategy. Invite your users into the innovation process, and you'll unlock a whole new layer of product utility.
Strategy 2: Community as a Continuous Upsell Machine
Miro doesn’t just treat its community as beta testers. They treat them as VIPs who get the first taste of the newest features, such as their seamless integration with Slack, Salesforce, or the latest data analytics tools
Imagine gaining early access to a new integration that automates half your workflow. It's not just a fancy addition; it's a natural catalyst for upselling.
One of the most important metrics for a PLG products are upgrades. And Miro uses community to drive them.
Your community can be an engine for upgrades.
STRATEGY 3 - Transforming Feedback Loops into Strategy Sessions
The Community Feedback-to-Strategy Pipeline
The feedback from Miro’s community forums is pure gold. It's not left to gather digital dust; it's meticulously analyzed and funneled into their sales strategies.
Have an issue with a pricing tier? Your feedback might just shape Miro's next pricing model.
Side Quest: Miro's Pods
Miro's community managers aren't just moderators; they're conduits between the community and the product teams.
This reflects the company's 'Pods' strategy.
The idea [behind pods] is to align and build pods around the organization’s value streams. Employees from success, marketing, product, design, engineering, and sales come together to solve complex problems such as, “How can we have twice as many hand-raisers [sales leads]?” Then those people hack and iterate together. This is a complex model, and we still sometimes struggle with it. It’s way easier to operate in an environment where marketing does marketing, sales does sales, success does success. But the most efficient organizations create this complex cake where PLG is layered with marketing, and sales, and success together
— Andrey, CEO
This is a really radical way to run a company. It's much simpler - especially for busy ICs on the front-lines - to operate in their relative silos. But Andrey has tried his best to create a “spherical” company, and Miro does it's best to break down those barriers.
Have a dedicated team that can interpret user feedback into actionable data for your product team. Your community is more than just users; they're partners in shaping your product's future.
STRATEGY 4 - A human-powered community engine
Around 419 of Miro's employees carry a title involving 'Community.' That's more than half of their 605-strong marketing team.
We're talking about a significant chunk of human resources here, working tirelessly to build and nurture the community.
For instance, right now many of these team members are building out Miro's Distributed 2023 event, which looks like it will be a banger. Four years after the Distributed 2019 that got it all started, Miro is going bigger than ever with this event.
And these investments are not made willy-nilly.
A lot of people may think that when you scale the company, every net new employee and that new process can accelerate you. But in a lot of cases, it actually slows us down. So we need to be really conscious about what really speeds up, and where we slow down the organization.
So it's also extremely important to make sure that when we add this way to organization, we don't break some agile processes. And we don't break overall agility of the organization. So that's what I call like building a plane while flying. You want to get to point B, but you need to build a plane while you are traveling to that state.
— Andrey, CEO
So the community team is a highly targeted set of people—not a bloated organization.
What do you get when you combine meticulously crafted product offerings with an engaged and empowered community-team? A winning SaaS brand that transcends market noise.
Community-led value isn't a sideshow for Miro—it’s central to their growth narrative.
A dynamic community isn't just a 'nice-to-have'; it's a must-have strategic asset for any SaaS company aiming for the stars. Miro's multilayered approach to community building—ranging from the Miroverse to its focus on leveraging user-generated content—is a blueprint for SaaS success.
And that’s a wrap folks on our Miro analysis!
We’ve looked at several product-led companies before, but Miro is truly a masterclass on how a SaaS company should do PLG. In one of the most competitive spaces in tech, they’ve emerged with substantial market share and a rabid fan base around an incredibly user-centric product.
As always, there’s never a silver-bullet playbook for you to copy-and-paste. But, by taking and applying some of these lessons to your own product (just never forgot your own business/product context), you’ll more than likely see growth.
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This was a super fun one to team up withon. Miro aside, as a writer I learned a lot from him and his process. If you haven’t, I couldn’t recommend subscribing to his newsletter enough. He’s excellent, and his newsletter is growing like crazy. Just drop your email and hit subscribe below to start getting his work.
Alrighty guys, thank you so much for reading today.
Until next time.
— Jaryd ✌️