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Scaling Startups

Scaling Startups



Hosted by TalentPuzzle. ...

Hosted by TalentPuzzle.
From the incredibly successful Scaling Startups event held at the Kia Oval on the 12th September 2013.
Delegates enjoyed talks from Tom Allason- Shutl, Titus Sharpe- MVF Global, Alicia Navarro- Skimlinks and many more.



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  • Notion to date
  • Pre-2008
  • MessageLabs data – suggest adding staffing and staff growth figures to this perhaps?
  • Bessemer 5 Cs of Cloud FinanceCommitted Monthly Recurring Revenue, Annual Recurring Revenue, Annual Run Rate RevenueCas
  • It’s what we look for, so do the candidates
  • I would avoid obvious stuff and go for experience based insights
  • I would avoid obvious stuff and go for experience based insights
  • You raise your first VC round. What then? Mo’ money mo’ problemsInvestors mean you aren’t in total control. Spend spend spend!You have to hire people to hold your baby. Only hire A players.Building culture. What we do. Genuine example above! Schwag, parties, food, drinks – make it feel like a family. Make it a place you would want to work.
  • * First question - do you need to expand? * Type of business - not everyone needs to be in the US, or SF. * Where are your customers? Where are your partners? * Not everyone does. Don't be sucked in. * Not the entire team * Examples of amazing businesses who haven;t expanded internationally - Supercell, Moshi Monsters * Next: If you are going to expand, where? Not necessarily west coast? Lyst example/
  • Why London is an amazing place to start a business – but you already know that
  • This should be the very first question you ask yourself. Is it really worth the time, expense and distraction?
  • Silicon valley is the Mecca for tech – Google, HP, Apple, Oracle, SiebelMultibillion dollar exits and IPOsAngelgate @ Bin 38Esther Dyson caltrain story
  • San Francisco is a big(ish) city and affords everything that a big(ish) city provides – great bars and restaurants, parks, culture, architecture, homelessness and crime
  • Mountain View and Palo Alto are the heart of Silicon Valley proper and home to companies like Oracle, Facebook, Apple and HP.  However, if you’re looking at moving a several-thousand person company out here they’re probably the only way to go.I feel they lack soul, non-generic shops and decent places for the all-important post-work pint. 
  • The buzz of the city is palpable (especially compared to identikit business parks found further south) and the city’s SOMA district – with its vast warehouses and loft apartments – is home to hundreds of start-ups, creative companies and social media consultants.  Throw a stone from anywhere in the district and you’ll hit at least one person creating “x for twitter”.  There are also great spaces available downtown, around South Beach and in the Mission district. Access to caltrain.
  • If you want to trade or hire in the US you’re going to need a US entity.  The vast, vast majority of US companies incorporate in Delaware (regardless of where they are actually based) thanks to the state’s generous tax benefits and well-defined body of case law.  Once you have your Delaware Corp you’ll need to get it ready to trade in the State of California.  It’s probably best to get a lawyer to help with all of this as the paperwork will make your eyes bleed.There are pros and cons of cost for equity- like lower upfront cost to you, but then locked into the lawyer and also potentially gave away valuable equity.
  • Unlike the US, setting up a bank account in the US is actually quite simple.They aren't the best bank, but for the simple remote stuff it was good.  HSBC might also be a good option. 
  • Talk about coming and going, Ben Way,
  • H1-b is one yearL1-A is up to 7 years, can be extended in countryO-1 is for people like scott rutherfordThere are several options for your visa but (in our opinion) the best in terms of the time-to-apply / time-you’ll-be-allowed-to-stay ratio is the L-1 intercompany transfer visa.
  • Expect to wait at least a month and a half from when you first submit to your interview at the US embassy (unless you pay $1,500 for some kind of Easyjet-style speedy boarding pass, in which case you’re looking at 15 working days) and bear in mind you have to be outside the US to apply and receive your visa.  Entering the US during your visa application is technically allowed but frowned upon so if you are travelling make sure you have proof that you’ll be leaving the country again shortly, a copy of your application and something proving that you are indeed employed by a non-US company and are just visiting for meetings.  Not to work.  Oh no.
  • Social security = credit = mobile phone on contract etc
  • Unless you’re hiring engineers in SF, in which case you’re screwed.
  • People in the US - especially the Valley - are a lot more savvy when it comes to their equity options.  In Europe, people tend to work for cash compensation and are happy with that.  There is a lot more flexibility in terms of what you offer employees here, but they also know their market value.  Typically you will have to have a more generous option pool in the US.  Bonuses, probably not expected quite as much.  
  • People - especially engineers in the Valley have been very well taken care of and expect to be pampered...the more you can throw into the benefit the better off you'll be at recruiting.  This means amazing heathcare, lots of food in the office, free lunches and dinners, gadgets, Aeron chairs, etc... 
  • In 2007 we made decision Go big or go home.What does a good VC bring? Money, connections, experience.Raised our first round December that year with Eden ventures. Had to learn the VC game from scratch. Spoke with every VC informally before we kicked off the process.The dance!
  • Ellie – make this a more fun unstructured page that shows off the title of the talk and still mentions our company name and logo somewhere.
  • GumtreeCooperations with universitiesMeetups like Silicon MilkroundaboutKeep an eye on bankrupt companies
  • Focus on cover letter more than CVAsk questions in job spec to weed out those who don’t read requirements fullyInclude practical tests
  • I deliberately swear in interviews to test “openness”I ask them to tell me their favourite jokeWe ask “How weird are you and why”
  • Open Sourced/ Extra curricular projects
  • MBA by experience
  • Means you can easily hire people from outside EUCan be attractive to bring someone from US to have a few years in London
  • Climbing wall club membershipEasyjet vouchersGymboree vouchers for someone with new childAshwin as he was moving flats we gave voucher for furniture storeZoo membership
  • Invest in your offer letterMake them feel valuable and excitedShow we careThat our vision is exciting, relevant, they can really make an impact
  • Show picture of Angelina and Brad’s Rainbow FamilyCount number of nationalities and women
  • Experience isn’t everything, you can teach people a lot of aspects about a job but you can’t teach spark, dedication, initiative etc. E.g. Mark and Hannah and Hardip and Tom and Jo and CatherineJob rotation and retentionCertain roles, product management, pub dev, merchant, better to hire juniors and train them as you want it. Interns and grads are lifeblood of a startup.Balance this with great leaders.Data entry interns, Cath, Geoff and Amy are all now superstars. Keep an eye on people you bring in at junior roles, give opportunity
  • Concentration of hiresQuestion each hireBe prepared for higher churn rates in cohorts of high concentrations of hires
  • Fleetwood FridayChristmas Party Treasure HuntsWelcome questions#Skimlove
  • In the early days, we don’t need to define it, you just hire people that ARE your culture.You should dictate what the culture is, but let it evolve organically from about 12ish onwards, and then use what come naturally as the basis for future hires and for team bonding indentify… Skimlove
  • Brown bag lunchesTerm sheet explanationsBoard meeting debriefsExplain the “why” along with the “what”
  • Bring in temp inhouse recruiters in need
  • All apart from internsCultural niggle is a showstopper
  • By the time your user base starts to scale your team will be…
  • Companies that scale very fast (typically American) have a simple philosophy – let the product take the strain of scale.These companies aren’t geniuses at sales and marketing – so how are they growing?
  • Measure everything in early adopter phaseUse A/B testing even physical e.g. http://www.crowdery.com/Then you know what doesn’t workBe more concerned about what isnt necessary as…Growing user base demands features.Instead remove features and see if they stay. New features are :DistractingComplicate adoption by early majority3.You havnt got much resource so cant afford to be bogged down bug fixing No more than one hard problem3rd party librariesSalespeople have the phrase, “Get the buyer to the ‘no’”
  • What is this?You already have engaged users... That is why you are at the scaling stageThere are different ways of measuring viralitybut need to focus onK factor + cycle rateInfection rate vs conversion rateAddress books, fb etc, social sign inshttps://docs.zoho.com/sheet/published.do?rid=y0e29704d6b6ede984e5d8b7209cd37ae3eb9
  • Focus on building the best product engine possible:Engineers, product managers, product marketersMake product team efficientEvery day ask yourself “what can I do to remove friction”Yammer prod management mission statement: “Speed up engineering”Outsource all non-productHiring is hard work & distractingHiring is high risk Use 3rd parties e.g. ODesk, AMT, uTest
  • Delay building sales and marketing teams until unavoidableSales teams need a lot of supporting resourceSalesmen are big egos and hard to manageSales and marketing only do what is familiarPut aside budget to experiment with marketingLots of ways to oursource:ResellersPartners e.g. BAe3rd party sales eg Mansfield Sales Partners– build the product your hypothetical sales and marketing will want to sell!- borde.rs branding example
  • Mountain biking analogy: Do the things the product wants you to do.Build the team and culture that the product wantsCONWAYS LAWThere will be failuresWhen failures occur, review your culture, not your processMake gut hires - but fire fast Don’t put too much emphasis on domain perfection
  • Scaling startups have an unfair advantage: engaged users. You have done your learning. You have the data. Use it.They will…Write your specificationDo your QAGenerate new usersProvide new-user education

Scaling Startups Scaling Startups Presentation Transcript