Sunday, December 7, 2014

Build to scale, before you scale – Lisa Xu of NopSec

Six Habits of Highly Successful Founders


#4. Build to scale, before you scale – Lisa Xu of NopSec

I was fortunate to spend the first half of this year as interim CFO at NopSec working with co-founders Lisa Xu (CEO) and Michelangelo Sidagni (CTO) and saw first hand the value of building “repeatable processes” across a startup BEFORE they are needed … so that scaling the business in response to customer demand is much less painful. 

Lisa is a master at doing that … with huge benefits to the organization. We all know that cloud based services have made it cheaper and easier than ever to build scalable tech platforms – or at least an initial MVP version. Having used that to validate product-market fit doing the actual scaling of the businesses involves so much more than buying more compute or storage however. It involves developing and scaling many interlocking processes from customer acquisition, on-boarding, customer service, finances, HR etc. 

However for many startups the challenges of scaling across these other dimensions often are faced when, to use an old tech analogy, the rivets start popping out. This is because the processes that enable that broader scaling often feel like bureaucracy for a start up and hence are deemed toxic … until things derail. For example a key employee leaves and folks realize exactly what she/he did and how are not documented or processes that worked for single units just don’t work at 100s never mind 1000s. 

As Lisa demonstrates, proactively building processes to scale, before you scale, is a smart move.

Lesson: Don’t just be hands on, be hands ahead

For a full list of the Six Habits - click HERE