Fifth workshop of the Growth Track: Operational Scaling

by Else Herrebout
Posted on May 23, 2019

Running a business with 5 people versus a company with 150 people: it is an entirely different game. As the start-ups in the Growth Track are all growing rapidly, it is time to focus on tackling operational challenges.

Generating more sales, activating and engaging your customers, and improving your strategic positioning. Over the past couple of workshops, the focus was mainly aimed at growing and scaling your business. But how do you manage such a growth spurt internally? It is crucial for these budding businesses to safeguard their company culture, recruit the right people and potentially start managing teams abroad. Experts shared their models, visions and experience with the last Growth Track Workshop.

The workshop was hosted at ING LABS, ING’s own innovation centre that focuses on bringing disruptive ideas to the market. A perfect location for an energetic and meaningful session with our start-ups. The Head of ING LABS, Remco van de Veer, personally gave the start-ups a warm welcome and explained the start-ups how this centre is used to stimulate innovations focused on more traditional sectors such as housing, or the more unorthodox areas where there’s an opportunity to disrupt.

TFI Innovation Lead, Joep Arends, then opened with a plenary talk in which he took a theoretical lens by introducing the ‘Operating Model’ framework. This is a structured approach on how to configure an organization to execute your strategy. The key take-away is that you have to be crystal clear on what your distinctive capabilities are. What capability sets set you apart from your competition? Collect these capabilities, make them your central focus and structure your entire organization around this.

“Operating model: the key element to get you where you want to go”

The next speaker, Friedhelm Schmitt, incorporated this operating model immediately into his talk about Fincite. Fincite has experienced a massive growth going from startup to scale up in just a few years. Fincite has only existed for less than 5 years but is now already active in 6 countries with more than 60 employees. Friedhelm has been able to transform Fincite into an award-winning top player in the Frankfurt Fintechscene, wherefore his story was powerful to hear for our younger startups.

Then John de Kok took the floor, a serial entrepreneur who is now partner at Deloitte. He emphasized the importance of fostering a company culture and making everyone feel part of the enterprise. For a large part, his entrepreneurial success has been supported by his expertise in cross-cultural management. Although his cardiology centres are placed in the Netherlands, many employees are based in North Macedonia. For years, he flew back and forth to North Macedonia to start up a new team for his enterprise, but just as important: to ensure that they felt part of the company and its culture.

Key take-away from his stories around building his companies were the importance of building strong teams and to sometimes just let it go:

“From directing to enabling; growing a team is about making it possible for them”

After lunch, the startups were rotated to have a coffee chat with many experts. Experts included CEO/COO’s from other scale-ups that have experienced similar issues, organization design and process improvement experts from Deloitte, and a leadership experts from Krauthammer. Each start up got the opportunity to talk with three experts in a row, which were all carefully selected based on their indicated needs. After three rounds of conversations you could see a many smiles but also exhausted faces. Clearly a lot of valuable input was provided to the start ups.

The day was closed off with some Friday afternoon beverages in the bar, which was well deserved for everyone. Up next is the demo-day of the Growth Track 2019, which will be a day full of pitching, networking and fun!