Startup Magazine of Hong Kong: Jumpstart Issue 12 (July/August 2016) Hong Kong

Page 17

7 Ways to ACCELERATE Growth in a Startup There is no “real” magic in the world. Things are pretty simple really, even in a startup. It’s a lot like making cookies. If you follow the recipe for cookies, you get …… Anyway, listed below are what I believe are some main ingredients for a fast-growing startup. These come from my 30 years in the business, having been involved in a number of successful exits and quite a few startup investments. There are some basics, and if you get them right, life will be more fun.

1. Flexibility beats Quality

5. Hire Experience

Follow the 80% Rule; Good enough is, well, good enough!

Startups often hire the cheaper eager-young-wanna-be rather than the more expensive experienced talent.

Every successful startup I have worked with ended up making money from things that were not even on the radar at the start.

to execute. Then, prioritize according the timeline, cost and effectiveness. To shorten the development cycle, external SaaS such as Mailchimp and Optimizely might come in handy.

4. Constant Validation and Reiteration Do not wait until you have a perfect campaign ready to go. Instead, select the right segment and the right time to launch a MVP and re-iterate. It is very common for startups to employ several tactics at the same time, but make sure that you segregate the testing groups so that the impact of a particular change is measurable. Once your assumption is validated, run it through the entire user base. If the impact is not positive, go back to the MVP and fine-tune it or switch to other strategies until you come up with the best result. There is no universal winning formula for all startups, but I hope the above prepares you to start your own growth plan. After all, people are the key to success and finding the right growth hacker is the first step. Good luck. As a veteran in consumer banking as well as a growth hacker and strategist in fintech B2B/B2C startups, Rachel aspires to promote Fintech and other innovations in Asia. She can be reached at:

Make sure you build for flexibility and change. Fix it in the next revision. The goal is to generate sales and gather feedback. Customers will tell you what they need and want. But they have to see it first.

2. Think Interface, not Integrate Streamline and cost reduce, and make it pretty later. Outsource everything; there is no such thing as NIH (not invented here) in a startup. Tape, glue, or staple it together. If it works, push it out the door. If it sells, you can cost reduce, fix, and improve in V2.0.

3. Decision Making Velocity Make fast decisions! Your Mom called it “Pull the bandage off quickly!” Making many corrective adjustments is more productive than slow highly analytical movements. You can always change your mind. (Exception to the rule: If your start/stop/re-start time is significant– i.e. the penalty for change is high– then slow it down a bit). Example: Stock traders that readily admit errors and take action perform better than those who hold too long (decision paralysis) Action with corrections beats “plan on shelf.”

4. Shoot the Wounded Know when to quit. Word on the street is “never never never give up”. This is just bad advice. Ask anyone who is divorced. Face Reality my friend. If it ain’t working, or its high maintenance, get it out of your life. This learning is so important that I titled my next book Shoot the Wounded.

Analogy: a restaurant should hire an experienced cook who “knows the recipe” over the young cook who will “figure it out.” How will the young people get experience, you ask? Not your problem. Focus on solving problems for your company.

6. Sell First A company runs on sales. If you can’t sell it, something is wrong. If you can sell it, you are on the right track. Now you have a “delivery problem.” That’s much easier to solve than a sales problem. Even if you have to give their money back for missing a delivery, at least you know you are on the right track.

7. Find the Fastest Path to Cash Especially recurring revenue: you pay your bills in cash. As a venture capitalist, if you’re operating on my money, I want to have a say in how it is spent. When you get to cash flow positive, my power diminishes quickly. You have much more freedom. Find your fastest path, even if it is not your “big idea.” Being able to pay the bills is a good thing. Greg Patti is the Managing Partner for Agave Venture Partners (founded 2009). He is on the Board of Director for various companies; Mojo Mobility, (wireless charging); Marque Makers (an Adidas International Sports License holder); Affordable Film Edit (video editing for action camera market, think GoPro).