We have brought the most talented tech founders, CEOs and senior executives for a day of intensive learning at ScaleX Founders Summit ’19. The day has been very dynamic from the start with 80 talented entrepreneurs that have been carefully selected from hundreds of applications. We believe that the only way for an ecosystem to build value-adding companies is to create a way for executives to learn from each other. Thus, we deliberately created the event around our motto:
“Learn. Share. Scale.”
Since we founded ScaleX, my dream was to find and help founders to create global success stories that would create an impact in the world that we live in. That’s why we just don’t invest financially but we also devote our time to ease our founders’ operational complexity. We bring successful entrepreneurs, executives’ expertise and our know-how to accelerate their learning and help them face off every possible problem that can hinder their progress in their long journey.
Following last year’s summit, we sat down to see whom we can find and bring to turn the day into a “ScaleX Academy”. With careful consideration and serious talks with many friends, friends of friends and friends of friends of friends (that’s exactly how it went☺), we came up with the following.
Wisdom of an “Alpha Girl”
Magdalena Yeşil is an entrepreneur, investor and our beloved advisor at ScaleX Ventures. She is also the author of “Power Up: How Smart Women Win in the New Economy”, chosen as one of the top business and leadership books by Business Insider. She is best known as the first investor in the multi-billion dollar company, Salesforce. Magdalena is also shown as one of those fearless Silicon Valley stars who made it blossom in “Alpha Girls” by award-winning journalist Julian Guthrie.
The book also includes a chapter of Magdalena and me, having a sincere conversation on work life. Must read!
Magdalena came a long way from Silicon Valley to talk and shared her wisdom;
“Every successful entrepreneur I know to do two things exceptionally, they focus and get it done. Every day I ask myself about the things I need to get done that day to create the highest leverage. I don’t leave the office until I get those done.”
Then, she built upon what Arda Koterin mentioned about customer centricity;
“People who want to start a business should focus on serving customers rather than managing people. Your organization chart should have customers at the top. And than the way that leads to any accomplishment begins with building an exceptional team.”
However, team building is not easy for new founder CEOs as we all were one before. So, I went on asked her about how an inexperienced founder who just recently found a product-market fit can find and onboard and stretch their team. I wanted to get her recommendation for our participants. What she said was something we all know but still do wrong:
“You need a network. You should be expanding your network all the time. If you don’t have one, use someone else’s. There are great resources out there for you like us, ScaleX, and many more. You can leverage these networks. What I see every day is founders that express how they want or need A-players, yet they don’t spend enough time and resources to nurture them.”
Backstage Of An Exit
Foriba’s CEO, Koray Bahar mentioned his exit and gave some tips for startups looking for their own. Koray gave great advice. Here are some key points from his speech:
- He expressed with an example of the partnership Foriba made with SAP to stress the importance of partnerships and how it can enhance growth that leads to an exit.
- He acknowledged the importance of organic growth, however, he also demonstrated using Foriba’s acquisition of a competitor as an example to show that inorganic growth also has other benefits like upselling your own products to your competitor’s customers. Thus, making you a bigger player in your market.
- He also stressed the importance of stepping on your competitors’ toes when you decide to go global.
Zero to Hero
We had hosted OpsGenie’s CEO, Berkay Mollamustafaoğlu, last year, which was one of the biggest exits from Europe during last year’s summit. This year, we observed that the startup ecosystem’s need was a “go-to-market strategy and execution”. We thought that OpsGenie’s CFO, Tim Daniels, would be a great fit for the topic as he was the first senior hire of OpsGenie and his contribution to its success is undeniable. He shared how a startup that was founded in Ankara, became one of the leaders in the market for its product starting from zero, in his session “Zero to Hero”. One of the most important points on the subject was;
“The most important thing a CEO could do is to set a clear goal. In our case, it was doubling the ARR and the value that we created for our customers. This was our only goal. The only thing we did was to diffuse this goal to the entire company and made sure everyone was working towards it.”
His advice on GTM was;
- To set a clear goal
- To be careful about taking GTM advice as it could be situational, meaning that some tactics that work wonders for a company may not work for another.
- He urged founders to take these seven questions into consideration before deciding on their business model:
— The average deal size
— Do you sell to individuals, teams, or entire organizations?
— Who, and how senior, is your buyer?
— How does your buyer typically buy?
— How complicated are the sale and implementation?
— How many targets are in your target market?
— Is this a winner-take-all market?
Math or Art: Find Where Your Customers’ Seats Are In Your Startup
Arda Köterin who is a co-founder and VP of Customer Success at Insider ,a marketing tech startup exporting technology to over 20 countries including Japan, which received investments from prestigious firms like Sequoia Capital also joined us in the event with a speech titled, “Math or Art: Find where your customers’ seats are in your startup”. He talked about how Insider manages more than 500 customers in different geographies, languages. He underlined the importance of being a customer-centric company and where should you position the customer within the startup.
- Becoming customer-centric requires building trust between you and your customer.
- How to build trust?
— Discover your customers’ dynamics
— Create your cause around your customer value
— Pick a role and approach
— Build strength for performing the role and approach
— Convert approach to culture
Sales as a Science
Jacco van der Kooij, who is the founder of Winning By Design, a company that aims to support companies to scale their sales operations and achieve success, discussed the ways to increase sales and explained how we initially approach sales is usually wrong. Jacco gave his famous workshop, “Sales as a Science”, using three exercises and provided our founders with his e-books “How to get $10M in ARR and Beyond”, and “The SaaS Sales Method”. The most engaging part of the workshop was when he asked;
“If you ask your sales team to double the sales, they will ask you to double their people. But just simply improving your funnel (see below) 10% at each step can create the same effect.”
While working on an event of this scale and quality, there are times where you get stressed. I even told myself right the day before the event that I was never doing this again. However, when the event begins and all the work and thought we put into it creates an atmosphere that is hard to find, I remember why I created ScaleX from the beginning. Not many of you know that my first intentions with this project weren’t to create a venture capital firm.
You know “how they say that it takes a village to raise a baby.”
I wanted to create that village so that our future entrepreneurs can raise their babies in an ecosystem that values creativity and disruption. With the feedback I received, I know that these little steps contribute to my dream. I want to thank our team, sponsors, speakers, and participants who made this event what it is.
We will be back with our ScaleX Founders Summit 2020 event new year with even better content.