Full Review - Growth Engines, Sean Ellis & Morgan Brown

Immerse yourself in the inner workings of growth engines with “Growth Engines” by Sean Ellis & Morgan Brown, the pioneers of growth hacking.

“Growth Engines” is a comprehensive and in-depth manual on the art and science of creating sustainable growth engines. Written by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown, two of the most respected pioneers and thinkers in growth hacking, this book is an invaluable resource for any business looking to drive growth in a systematic and sustainable manner.

The central themes covered include:

  1. The philosophy of growth hacking : a systematic and data-driven approach to growth, based on rapid experimentation and iteration.
  2. The different types of growth engines : viral, paid, organic, etc., and how to choose and combine them according to your business.
  3. Key steps in building a growth engine : define goals, identify levers, design experiences, measure results, optimize and scale.
  4. Numerous detailed case studies, from startups like Dropbox and Airbnb to established businesses like IBM and Nike.

Ellis and Brown propose a comprehensive and actionable framework for designing, testing, and optimizing custom growth engines. They emphasize the importance of a holistic approach, aligning acquisition, engagement, monetization, and retention in a virtuous system.

A key concept is that of North Star Metrics (polar star metrics), these crucial indicators that reflect the creation of value for the user and guide all growth efforts. The authors show how to identify these metrics and use them to focus and align the entire organization.

Throughout the book, Ellis and Brown emphasize the importance of a experimental mindset and a growth culture. They provide practical advice on creating an effective growth hacking process, from generating ideas to prioritizing, designing tests, and analyzing results.

“Growth Engines” is distinguished by its systemic approach and its depth of analysis. It's not just a collection of tactics, but a comprehensive strategic guide to integrating growth hacking into the core of business operations and culture.

Critical analysis

“Growth Engines” is a masterful work that has risen to the pantheon of indispensable books on growth hacking and marketing in the digital age.. Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown have succeeded in transforming their expertise and field experience into a comprehensive, insightful and highly actionable guide.

One of the major highlights of the book is its systemic and holistic approach. Where many books on growth hacking focus on isolated tactics, “Growth Engines” offers a global framework for designing and optimizing integrated growth systems. The authors show convincingly that sustainable growth is not the result of a single hack, but of a finely calibrated engine where every element, from acquisition to retention, works synergistically.

Another advantage is the richness and relevance of case studies. Ellis and Brown have selected a diverse panel of companies, from the most innovative startups to established brands, and dissect their growth drivers with fascinating granularity. Each case is analyzed in depth, highlighting specific challenges, innovative solutions and results achieved. These concrete examples reinforce the book's concepts and prove their effectiveness in the real world.

KPI Marketing North Star Metrics

The concept of North Star Metric is another major contribution. By emphasizing the importance of identifying and focusing on key metrics that reflect the creation of user value, Ellis and Brown offer a powerful tool to align and guide growth efforts. It's a simple but profound idea that can be used as a compass for any business navigating uncertainty.

Promoting a culture of experimentation and growth is another strong point.. The authors not only describe the tactics, but emphasize the mindset and processes required to successfully implement them. Their advice on building an effective growth hacking team, managing an experience pipeline, and embedding a growth mindset across the business is invaluable.

Things to remember

Growth Engines is full of valuable lessons for any professional looking to drive business growth. :

  1. Growth is not a one-time event, but the result of an integrated system - a growth engine - that aligns and optimizes every aspect of the user experience.
  2. There are different types of growth drivers (viral, paid, organic, etc.), and choosing the right mix depends on the business model, the market and the stage of development of the company.
  3. Identify your “North Star Metric” - the key indicator that reflects the creation of value for the user - is crucial for focusing and aligning growth efforts.
  4. Sustainable growth is based on a systematic and data-driven approach, based on rapid experimentation, accurate measurement, and continuous iteration.
  5. Having the right processes and the right team in place is just as important as choosing the right tactics.. Growth should be an organizational priority, not just a team responsibility.
  6. Growth hacking is not just for startups or digital pure players. Any business, regardless of size or sector, can apply these principles to drive growth.
  7. Experimentation is key. You must constantly generate ideas, prioritize them, test them and learn from them, in a continuous cycle.
  8. The best companies integrate feedback and user data at every stage of the product development cycle., not just downstream.
  9. Growth is not just about numbers, but about real value created for the user. The most sustainable growth drivers are those that consistently improve customer experience and satisfaction.
  10. Driving growth is a team effort that requires alignment and collaboration across functions., from marketing to product through engineering and data.

By integrating these lessons, any business can lay the foundations for strong and sustainable growth, propelled by a real growth engine.

Similar books

  • “Hacking Growth” by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown
  • “Lean Analytics” by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz

Author Background

Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown are two leading figures in growth hacking, with unparalleled experience and expertise in the field..

Sean Ellis is considered to be the father of growth hacking. He invented the term in 2010, when he was helping startups like Dropbox, Eventbrite, and LogMeIn accelerate their growth. Since then, he has advised numerous companies, from Silicon Valley to multinationals, and has disseminated his growth philosophy through his blog, conferences and books.

Ellis is the CEO and founder of Growthhackers.com, the leading online community dedicated to growth hacking, and is widely recognized as one of the most innovative and influential thinkers in digital marketing.

Morgan Brown is a veteran of growth hacking and product management, having held leadership positions at Facebook, Shopify, and GrowthHackers. He is renowned for his ability to design and execute effective growth strategies in a variety of contexts, from start-ups to large groups.

Brown is a sought-after speaker and trainer, regularly sharing his insights on international stages and at top companies. He is also the co-author of the bestseller “Hacking Growth”, written with Sean Ellis.

Together, Ellis and Brown are a great duo, combining unparalleled field expertise, innovative thinking, and a rare ability to transform complex concepts into actionable frameworks..

With “Growth Engines”, they wanted to create the definitive manual for implementing a growth hacking culture and process in any organization. The book reflects their unique approach, combining analytical rigor, creativity, and an obsessive focus on creating value for the user.

Beyond their expertise, Ellis and Brown are recognized for their generosity in sharing their knowledge and their passion for helping others succeed. Growth Engines is a perfect example of this - a concentrate of hard-won wisdom, transformed into an accessible and powerful guide to navigating the challenges of growth in the digital age.

Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown are not only leading practitioners and thinkers, they are the true architects of modern growth hacking. With “Growth Engines”, they deliver the blueprint to build the success stories of tomorrow.


Do you have to be a digital company to apply the lessons of “Growth Engines”?

No, although many examples come from digital, the basic principles (data-driven experimentation, focus on user value, organizational alignment) are valid for any company looking to grow.

Is the book accessible for growth hacking beginners?

Yes, while some concepts can be complex, Ellis and Brown do a great job of making them accessible. However, some familiarity with digital marketing and key metrics is helpful.

Does the book provide “ready-to-use” tools and tactics?

Yes and no. “Growth Engines” provides plenty of examples and tactical ideas, but the focus is on the fundamental principles and processes for designing your own growth engine, rather than on readymade recipes.

What is the difference between “Growth Engines” and “Hacking Growth,” the other book by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown?

“Hacking Growth” focuses more on the growth hacking process itself, while “Growth Engines” takes a more holistic view, showing how to integrate this process into an overall growth strategy and culture. The two books are complementary.


In conclusion, “Growth Engines” by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown is a major book, which has become an essential reference on growth hacking and growth strategies in the digital age..

Its unique combination of strategic depth, insightful case studies, and practical advice makes it an invaluable resource for any professional looking to unravel the secrets of fastest-growing businesses.

A dense, inspiring and deeply actionable book, just waiting to be implemented to propel your own growth engine. Your bedside bible for hacking growth, signed by the masters of the field.