When the founders of a startup decide to engage in the development of the company they find themselves facing a multitude of challenges such as: enlarging the size of the infrastructures, speeding up the processes, hiring new talents, investing in new markets and at the same time being able to keep firm the culture of the company.
Tech Nation, a support network for entrepreneurs, has gone through a similar period and therefore best understands the needs of entrepreneurs and for this purpose Upscale was born: a forum where entrepreneurs can speak freely and share daily challenges with others.
After the success of Upscale, Tech Nation decided to hire a writer who reported all the results of the coaching sessions in a book.
This book is the result of this project, it aims to become a guide, to report the experiences of different entrepreneurs and investors as a support for new and future technological startups.
Team management: hiring, layoffs and promotions
Hiring and layoffs according to Greg Marsh , co-founder and former CEO of Onefinestay.
One of the main problems a founder has to face with staff is hiring slowly and firing quickly. The saying “time is money” could not be more appropriate than in this case.
Hiring an executive is a fundamental problem for any founder, since to understand if the newly hired executive will be effective in his role, it is necessary to give him time to set up his own functions and processes, but that time will be a period in which the company does not get any progress.
The solution is to be completely clear on the times when a result is expected from the manager.
To set up an effective hiring process: you must not rely only on your instincts but you must try to have someone else in the interviews that you trust and who has knowledge of the context, secondly it is always good to ask the candidate to have a detailed work session, in this way you can discard those who are excellent in the interviews but not in the job itself.
Last but not least rule, you have to check the references thoroughly.
– How to preserve culture in the development of a startup according to Neil Rimer , co-founder of Index Venture
The culture and values of a company are the showcase of how management is expected to function, it is what influences hiring, attracts talents and creates an emotional bond with the company and its objectives. There are two factors for maintaining and perpetuating values in a growing company:
- encode the values that underlie your mission;
- management behavior must be in line with the values promoted.
– The old management of a company based on single leadership has changed according to Sarah Wood , co-founder of Unruly.
The old leadership models of a single leader in charge of everything no longer work in the modern age. The company must be more agile and responsive to meet market needs, a more fluid corporate structure is required, it is essential to have individuals with greater roles and skills in the various areas of the organization.
The new model also requires greater clarity in communications, culture and constancy of the product, furthermore the development of a meritocratic company that promotes the growth of its talents is necessary.
To respond faster to market demands and maintain product consistency, Wood suggests the creation of two teams, one that focuses on projects with long-term results and one that focuses on rapid response to market demands.
– How to develop the startup technical team according to Toby Moore , co-founder and former technical director of Space Ape Games.
It is an established rule that not all programmers have the right skills or wish to become managers, the two positions often provide different skills.
A solution in this case could be to create a parallel position for engineers, such as “main programmer”, which is an alternative to that of the manager. This provides a growth opportunity that does not necessarily entail the managerial position.
A good practice, in cases where a technician chooses the managerial position, is to provide a mentor.
– How to deal with stress according to James Routledge , founder of Sanctus.
A challenge that is rarely discussed but that all founders and managers face is work stress. A fundamental step is not to keep the problem secret, but to be open about it.
Mental health is as important as physical health, a solution could be to hire a coach with whom to open up and have conversations, but above all to carve out moments only for yourself.
– How to increase talent according to Dominic Jacquesson , director of talent at Index Ventures.
1) Hire a talent leader to help with subsequent hiring.
2) Designate and communicate your culture, to attract suitable people.
3) Introduce training on how to conduct interviews.
4) Create and define a salary grid.
5) Provide stock options to increase motivation and link to the company.
6) Create a process that facilitates the adaptation of new hires.
7) Include diversity in the team.
8) Create hiring parameters and an evaluation system of the hiring process.
9) Improve internal communication.
10) Gradually implement a personal performance management system.
– The founders of a startup can be a limiting factor in growth according to Suranga Chandratillake , partner of Balderton Capital.
Founders can often guide the company in the first phase of growth but later become a limiting factor.
To recognize the signs of this problem, founders should surround themselves with trusted people who can give them their insight into a problem. It is also important that the founder has the courage to step aside so as not to prevent growth.
The development of the company
Difficulties to face in internationalization according to Anthony Fletcher , CEO of Graze.
The internationalization of a company brings new challenges especially in two fields: product and logistics. It is essential to adapt the product to the market, we must carefully consider what to standardize and what to locate, in this case a good practice is to collect as much data as possible before opening a foreign office.
Once open, it is useful to send a senior and trusted employee who can supervise the hiring, as far as the latter are concerned, it is better to hire locally. It is good to remember to reiterate your culture in every recruitment to be able to keep it consistent in the various branches.
– The board of directors of a company according to Simon Calver , partner of BGF Ventures.
1) The board of directors must not manage the company but help to maintain the right strategy.
2) The size of the board of directors must be minimized to decrease decision times.
3) The same reports that are used weekly, or monthly, must be delivered to the administrative board in order to provide a clear idea of the situation.
4) It is good to keep reports of each meeting with the board.
5) It is advisable to create situations to socialize with board members.
– How to increase the brand according to Reshma Sohoni , founder of Seedcamp.
It is important to have a consistent and authentic brand history, if you do not have a personal history, you can use a success story for your product. The message of your brand must be clearly transmitted through every sector, so as to become irreplaceable.
– Increasing the clientele of a startup according to Benjamin Grol , partner of Atomico.
In the growth phase of a company, user retention is fundamental, we must focus on reducing friction with the product and reducing learning times. The two basic principles for growth are:
- understanding of retention;
- identification of the main and specific data of your product, on which to base the strategy.
– Crisis management communication according to Nadia Kelly , founder of Burlington PR.
In times of crisis, communication is essential, avoiding the media can damage, we must speak publicly, recognize the situation and apologize if necessary. During the Serie A phase it is good to hire an internal PR, while in the subsequent phases it is advisable to hire a more qualified agency.
– Product growth according to Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas , head of GoCardless production.
The three essential elements of product development are: speed of marketing, impact and quality of the consumer experience. When a startup grows, it is important that the organization is decentralized, so that teams can make independent decisions and market the product as quickly as possible.
– How to attract talent outside a main hub according to Aldo Monteforte , CEO and co-founder of The Floow.
The workforce feels attracted to an organization with a shared goal, moreover the technical staff is attracted to the idea of working together and to other brilliant minds. Another incentive could be to offer stock options (buy company shares at a certain price) to employees.
Financial management and financing
The financial aspect of a startup according to Alex Gayer , former SwiftKey financial director.
The chief role of the chief financial officer is to be the voice of reason. A good method to adopt from the earliest periods is to invest in efficient software and financial processes and then hire a financial director.
– How to get financing according to Cherry Freeman , co-founder of LoveCrafts.
When trying to raise funds for your startup there are some main rules to remember, first of all you need to build a network of contacts with investors suitable for the current phase of the company: seeding, series A, B and C. It is important eliminate the wrong investors through research to recognize their preferred financing scheme.
Once two or three lenders have decided to bid, you need to hire a law firm to help you understand all the clauses, especially if you are a beginner.
– To grow a company in times of crisis according to Wendy Tan White , co-founder of Moonfruit.
One of the methods to deal with a crisis is to reinvest your earnings in the company, today this technique is called Bootstrapping, it is also important to prepare during the financing phases, obtaining extra capital for emergencies.
The vademecum for the growth of a technological startup
The growth of a technological startup can be a complicated and confusing enterprise for entrepreneurs, who find themselves managing from ten to eighty or more than one hundred employees in a fast-growing company overnight.
It is important to remember that the foundations of any company are: personnel, infrastructure, financing and product, entrepreneurs must manage these sectors in the best possible way, combining them with a constant and coherent culture, in order to better develop the startup.