Member Ebbe Altberg Speaks: Before You “Scale Up,” You Have Some Answering To Do

The Challenge:

The case at hand was brought by the CEO of a technology company that was on the doorstep of rapid expansion. The CEO was looking for advice and best practices on “scaling up” his business.

If you were in this situation, what would you do?

You have a great technology offering, which is often the case here in Silicon Valley. However, you have to be more than just a technology. You have to make a great product and a strong business. The technology itself often doesn’t offer insights into how to do this. If I were you, I would start asking questions. Do you want to be acquired in the medium term or are looking to build a stand-alone business? Are you creating a product that will stand on its own, or a built-out feature that will eventually become attractive to a tech giant?

Take, for example, Apple and Oracle. One is a product company with a sales team. The other is a sales company with a product team. What are you building? And what does a sale look like? Are you a self-service company that is selling a product that costs hundreds of dollars to thousands of customers a day? Or are you selling a product that costs tens of thousands of dollars to a few customers a month? And if you’re looking to be acquired, what companies might do that? What are their needs, not only for technology, but also personnel and skills? How do those needs affect your current hiring strategy? Or perhaps you are planning to stay privately held? Or an IPO? What does success look like in 5 years? In 10 years? All of these considerations and many more will shape your strategy to “scale up.” Put on your thinking cap.