Preparing For Liftoff: How Not To Fail At Scale

We’ve seen it time and again: scaleups failing to launch their parachutes as they accelerate prematurely into the hypergrowth stage.

Apart from an established product-market fit and business model, what else would scaleup companies need to lay the foundation for smooth and sustainable growth? What needs to be prioritized when moving upmarket or tapping into new customer segments?

Krish Subramanian, CEO at Chargebee, and Rob Pegoraro, journalist for Fast Company, recently engaged in a fireside chat about reimagining founder-led growth, finding the best-fit partners, and empowering teams as your company scales.

Funding and Succession Planning

Regardless of your current growth stage, we hope you’re not part of the 54% of scaleups that fail to raise funding in subsequent rounds. 

For Krish, securing additional scaleup funding means having the right-fit stakeholders on board, and being constantly aware of their exit timelines. “It is a conscious choice to commit to growth and align yourself with the outcomes,” says Krish. Furthermore, an IPO doesn’t always have to be the only event that can provide liquidity. 

As for succession planning, it pays for founders to plan ahead if they ever decide to move on to another startup, or if the company gets acquired. Krish enumerated 2 simple strategies to do this: 1) entrusting the role in advance to other functions; and 2) determining who would best fit the vacant role moving forward.

Tag-Teaming For Success

Krish shares how he and one of his co-founders at Chargebee developed a calendar-syncing strategy to increase their visibility across campaigns and all customer touch points. This enabled them to focus more on outcomes, instead of merely receiving updates from the team. 

Among the other lessons both founders have learned was the importance of delegation. Employees now have a sense of ownership towards the responsibilities at hand, enabling them to work holistically as the organization scales.

Picking the Right Partners

It’s not just about delegating to teams — it’s also about delegating to partner companies. 

While hiring consultants used to be frowned upon, it’s now a critical part of the journey if organizations are really committed to scaling. Krish advises, “Get help from people who are looking at patterns and accept feedback on what has to be fixed in your organization.” 

He cited their partnership with Winning by Design as an example. The company went into a 3-month contract with Chargebee, who asked about their existing strategies and which ones to retain, then laid down on the table what they can offer. “Within that 3-month period, you basically have a playbook for all the good things and ones that have to be changed,” says Krish. 

This is extra crucial when a company is scaling rapidly — you’ll want to have a streamlined and transparent process in place, along with a different set of eyes to assess your business. Chargebee explores this idea even further in their discussion on using Agile methodologies throughout your organization to set the stage for rapid growth.

On the customer side, it’s important to hire a third-party provider that you’re comfortable working with, one that would also take care of your customers. Krish recommends doing back-channel reference checks for previous customer experiences to ensure that your partner will also be compatible with your customer base.

Final Thoughts

As Krish puts it, the organization becomes the product that you build as a founder; the product or service you offer to customers is an indicator of how much sustainable growth you’ve achieved. While getting things to work initially fueled your startup in its early stages, now would be the best time to acknowledge experience gaps and create synergy across your teams. Best of luck in scaling up! 

Hear more from Krish and Rob by watching the full session recording.

Photo by Frank Busch on Unsplash

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