3 Takeaways From The First Growth Stories Meetup A lot of what companies go through is learning by trial and error, and even founders who think they know what they’re doing can get it wrong more often than they get it right — in ways they never expected. That’s why it’s so valuable for entrepreneurs and everyone headed for growth, to have the opportunity to meet others in the same situation and hear about their experiences. On July 13, the Growth Agency held their Growth Stories meetup at Dok Noord to do just that.Q&A panel participants Lorenzo Bown (StoryMe), Jorn Vanysacker (Intuo), Michel De Wachter (Spott), and Niels Vanden Buverie (Teamleader) shared their stories with an audience consisting of marketers, founders, consultants, sales people and other growth enthusiasts. Here are the key takeaways from the first session. 1.Learn from your mistakesThe audience had some burning questions for the panel. The first one was already spot on: “What was your biggest failure and in the same way your biggest eye opener in your growth path?”Lorenzo Bown admitted that he regrets bringing employees with him from Belgium to staff the new London office rather than hiring locals. Local people know the culture, have the network and know how to enter their market better than you. But StoryMe didn’t have the financial resources back then to go on and hire a new international team. In hindsight, he would have waited until the resources were there to do it right from the first time.Jorn Vanysacker agreed. “Preparation is super-important. It takes 12 to 18 months to accomplish what you have in mind; you need to be realistic about that. With Rendeevoo -Jorn’s very first startup- we wanted to do everything super-fast, and there was a lot of pressure from the investors because they wanted to see quick returns. Everybody has to keep in mind that it will always take more time than you want.”Michel De Wachter from Spott continued: “In a startup, there’s still room for mistakes, but in a scale up, there’s not.”
Hire the right people with the right attitude
In a startup, the right human capital can make or break your company. All four panel members revealed that company culture is extremely important for their growth. But what do they look for when hiring people for their team? How do they know they are hiring the ‘right’ people?Who are the ‘right’ people? “That depends”, said Jorn. “The definition of ‘the right people’ depends on the role you’re looking for – it’s a matter of skillset but also how they identify with your culture, how they are going to claim their position within your environment. That’s why you really need to have company values in place before you start bringing new hires onboard.”Lorenzo agreed that attitude is key. “A person can always acquire new skills when needed, but this takes time. Just keep in mind that, depending on the position, a certain amount of expertise is necessary.” Michel De Wachter continued: “Hire people who are better at certain things than you. But it’s more than that: it’s about finding a natural fit with the company culture. “Niels: “Cultural fit is very important at us too. He added that a lot of Teamleader’s new hires are referred internally, by people who have already have been brought into the company’s culture. They also use branding campaigns using video clips to show people how working at Teamleader looks like. He continued: “If a job candidate doesn’t prepare for you at the interview, he or she won’t prepare for your clients either. So preparation is something that is basic for me.”“Making yourself vulnerable, as an individual, allows you to become a great leader, I believe. And in a startup, you need to hire those kind of people that one day will become a leader” Jorn concluded.
Prioritize your marketing based on your stage of growth
A lot of questions from the audience were regarding lead generation and growth hacking. How do you know which channels to focus on? Of primary importance: always keep in mind who your target market is and the environment you’re working in. For example, Michel said, “Learn who your audience is and get to know them, and then tailor your pitch to their needs and interests. Don’t just do a random pitch and hope it works. For example, to convince broadcasters, we did a video pitch. Also, we go to events only of we can host a session or do a presentation. That way we get the first contact with potential investors and clients.”Lorenzo said, “We have two big lead generation tactics for Story Me. One: recruit friends and colleagues as ambassadors, to spread the word about your company. And 2: be customer centric in every single step of the way. Niels: “At Teamleader we always combine multiple marketing techniques to see what works. We have a multi-local strategy and we adapt our team and product to respond to the needs of each individual market.” As a startup, it’s crucial to scale up gradually as your capacity grows. “But everything begins with a good product.” Niels claimed, “You want to get feedback from your first customers as soon as possible. Happy customers will become your first referrals. When first entering a new market, you want to look for the low-hanging fruit; don’t aim directly for the big targets, because it takes a lot of time wheeling them in. When you mastered capturing low hanging fruit, you can start working on marketing techniques that require time to develop and become successful, such as SEA and social media and so on.” Want to co-host a Growth Stories Meetup with your scale up or startup? Get in touch with email@example.com at the Growth Agency, and learn how to take your business to the next level.Check out all the pictures here