Podcast: How to become a unicorn, starting with your first steps
Unicorns aren’t born, they are made. They’re the result of smart business practices that instil a success-driven mindset from the first minute until startups hit that 1 billion+ valuation.
One of the key features of a unicorn, no matter how large, is that they can maintain agility as they develop. Mada Seghete, co-founder and VP of Marketing at Branch, noted “there are a lot of places where you can inject speed and urgency into your operations”, regardless of scale. Retaining this flexibility will make businesses a more attractive investment.
Rappi co-founder Juan Pablo Ortega agreed with this, claiming that founders need to assess whether changes made as the business scales are necessary, or if they are about appearance, “startups are disorganised, which is why they move fast. But when a company grows, founders think ‘I need to get my house in order’. So they implement processes, new management. And that slows everything down … that’s not interesting for investors.”
In line with this logic, Juan Pablo also advised that companies move away from total dedication to a single idea because “when you start out, people don’t really care what your values are – they just want a product that works.” A surprising opinion perhaps, but it makes sense when you consider that many investors back the talent of founders rather than a product itself.
Mada agreed, saying “the key thing in an entrepreneur is grit. Anyone can figure out success … but you have to be able to fail and not be so in love with an idea you can’t admit it isn’t working.”
Most companies that have reached unicorn status and beyond have done so by scaling operations at a strategically critical time. Whether that means opening offices overseas or restructuring management as teams grow, scaling with vision is key. As Juan Pablo said, “growing sales … is easy. But growing company values and the leadership of your company is harder.” Maintaining clear vision from day one will help your startup to the top of the mountain.
Juan Pablo Ortega, co-founder of Rappi, and Mada Seghete, co-founder and VP of marketing at Branch, were in conversation with Pieter Haeck of Politico Europe at Web Summit 2021.
Soure: Websummit Blog