Oct 30 • 1HR 1M

Building Substack | Sachin Monga (Substack, Facebook)

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Lenny Rachitsky
Sachin Monga
Interviews with world-class product leaders and growth experts to uncover concrete, actionable, and tactical advice to help you build, launch, and grow your own product.
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Sachin Monga is the Head of Product at Substack, a platform that I personally use every day, and love. Before Substack, Sachin co-founded an app called Cocoon, which he ended up selling to Substack. Before that, he spent over seven years at Facebook as a PM working on video and camera products, building out the developer platform, and leading the ads growth team. In today’s episode, we dive deep on all things Substack. Sachin shares what it’s like transitioning from a large product team at Facebook to a small growth team. He discusses how to work with a hands-on founder and why you must be comfortable with rapid change in a PM role. He also shares unique features of Substack that make it an optimized experience for readers and writers, how he’d like to see it improved, and tips for anyone wanting to get started writing online.

Listen now on Apple, Spotify, Google, Overcast, and YouTube.

Find the full transcript here: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/building-substack-sachin-monga-substack-facebook/#transcript

Where to find Sachin Monga:

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/sachinmonga

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sachinmonga/

• Email: Sachin@substackinc.com

Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/lennysan

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lennyrachitsky/

Thank you to our wonderful sponsors for making this episode possible:

• Retool: https://retool.com/lenny

• Stytch: https://stytch.com/lenny

• Vanta: https://vanta.com/lenny

Referenced:

• Substack: https://substack.com/

• Matt Taibbi on Substack: https://taibbi.substack.com/

• Bill Bishop on Substack: https://sinocism.com/

• Jasper: https://www.jasper.ai/

• DALL-E 2: https://openai.com/dall-e-2/

1000 True Fans: https://www.amazon.com/1000-True-Fans-Kellys-Simple-ebook/dp/B01N9P9O4G

• You Are Not Late: https://medium.com/message/you-are-not-late-b3d76f963142

The Timeless Way of Building: https://www.amazon.com/Timeless-Way-Building-Christopher-Alexander/dp/0195024028

Martyrmade podcast on Substack: https://martyrmade.substack.com/

• Colin Meloy on Substack: https://colinmeloy.substack.com/

• Ethan Strauss on Substack: https://houseofstrauss.substack.com/

• Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Substack: https://kareem.substack.com/

• Dayne Rathbone: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daynerathbone/

For All Mankind on Apple TV+: https://tv.apple.com/us/show/for-all-mankind/umc.cmc.6wsi780sz5tdbqcf11k76mkp7

In this episode, we cover:

(04:34) Sachin’s background

(07:11) The evolution and structure of teams at Substack

(10:11) What it’s like working at a smaller company with a hands-on founder

(12:07) How to share in a founder’s vision

(14:02) Why the rate of change is the most challenging aspect of the job

(16:37) Why prioritization at Facebook worked differently than it does at Substack

(20:03) How Substack thinks about prioritizing for writers and readers

(22:17) Substack’s recommendation feature and how it came to be

(27:13) How recommendations have led to an increase of millions of subscribers

(31:34) Moving forward with network-driven discovery 

(32:17) The “build with” principle and the product lab at Substack

(35:02) How Substack deals with negative press

(36:45) The writer experience at Substack

(39:13) The reader-focused experience on Substack

(40:41) Advice for writers

(44:45) Substack’s vision for making creation easier

(46:39) Common mistakes creators make, and how product improvements could help in some cases 

(49:57) Why you’re not too late to join the game

(52:52) Lightning round

Production and marketing by https://penname.co/. For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email podcast@lennyrachitsky.com.