Having built three successful companies that developed technology used globally by Fortune 500 companies and associated with billions in customer sales, I understand it takes more than a good idea to be successful.
Here are four insights to scaling your startup successfully.
Having a cohesive and capable team
Building a company around a good idea takes time, money and experience. Having experience on your team helps you to understand how to weather the storms and what to do when a pivot is necessary. No CEO or founding team can do everything themselves and they need to know who to bring on for help and when. Product developers, sales and marketing teams, strong finance and good corporate governance are essential to expand a business that investors and the market will support. At SmoothPay, we have invested a lot of time making sure we attract the right people and that we maintain a corporate culture that they never want to leave.
Building defensible innovations
For most people, the word “innovation” is (or at least, should be) synonymous with their concept of a startup. Innovation can come in many forms: technology, product, user experience, service, distribution model, and pricing. The more defensible the innovation, the better. At SmoothPay, we are focused on evolving retail commerce and removing friction with the products currently in the market. We are combining important aspects of a retailer’s business (e.g. payment, loyalty, customer engagement and data analytics) in ways that haven’t been done before.
Investing in Technology and being the Platform
The cost of entry and time required to build technology products has typically been a barrier to change for businesses and service providers. Today, however, technology is maturing and platforms are reducing the time to go to market. Examples include WordPress templates that let you launch a Website in minutes, eBay, which features your products for sale to a massive marketplace, and Shopify, which provides a highly customizable e-commerce Website technology at an affordable cost.
Many retailers know they need to be savvy in digital and some have invested heavily in this area and are starting to see the results. At SmoothPay, we often point to the fact that Starbuck’s now sees 24% of their transactions going through their mobile app as an example of how important mobile engagement is becoming in retail.
Scaling through Partnerships
The ability to scale a business should always be the entrepreneur’s top priority. The quicker you can get to revenue and positive EBIT, the better. And while traditional door knocking is usually a necessary part of growing a business and understanding customers, it is an expensive and inefficient exercise.
When we started SmoothPay, the founding team understood the key to effectively scaling would be through working with sales channel partners that had a base of target customers and distribution capabilities that we could leverage.
We have established mutually beneficial relationships with partners in payments, point-of-sale, and channels like the Telus IoT Marketplace. They have significantly accelerated our growth and positioned us to realize our goal of taking our client’s customer engagement capabilities to a whole new level.