A study by the World Economic Forum found that whilst not all start-ups make it big, the ones that do greatly impact society by means of new technology, services and increased employment. It is a true honour for Wazoku to have been selected as one of a cohort of 30 companies in Upscale 4.0. We join some great companies in this edition and some amazing alumni. The 2019 cohort kicked off on January 25th and offered a first chance to meet the companies involved. The first impressions are extremely positive. You can read more about the programme on the Upscale website and there was some good coverage in Forbes on launch too.
I thought I would share some thoughts on why I applied for Upscale and what I hope to get, both personally and for Wazoku, from the next 6 months of our scaling adventure.
To be clear, I do not think we are doing anything dramatically wrong. I believe we have a good strategy to deliver on our mission to ‘change the world, one idea at a time’ through our product becoming the ‘Global home for ideas’. As founders, there are no easy solutions to the challenges we face. No-one has ever walked in the shoes you are walking in now. Every business is different, even those that are strikingly similar are often in different times, places and have different people, cultures and challenges. There is no playbook, no wrong or right answer that anyone else can tell you with any certainty. However, there are people who have walked in their shoes, got their own battle scars, and earned their own stripes. I do not expect anyone to tell me how to scale Wazoku, but I do know that an open mind, a willingness to listen and an opportunity to share openly with a group of really smart people who are all themselves looking to scale, develop and grow, is far more likely to add value than it is to take any away!
So why did we apply and what do I hope to get from being a part of Upscale?
The network: It is a great group of people, everyone is really humble and there to share and learn. The thirty or so CEOs from a diverse range of businesses alongside the wider network from Technation and the wider alumni, will be a valuable network for the next six months and for years to come.
The headspace: Always working in the business makes it tough to step back and work on the business. It is amazing the ideas and thoughts that flow and the clarity that can occur by just stepping into another space and being asked to tap into other aspects of your creative mind (both conscious and sub-conscious). I spoke with several CEOs on the day who all commented on the ideas and thoughts that had come to them during the discussions, some linked to the topics, some not. We all need to step away from the day to day for clarity, and I think we should be doing this more regularly than we are.
The reassurance: It’s a pretty lonely game, no matter how strong your leadership team, your family support network, your board, your friends, etc. There is something incredibly comforting about being in a room of people who are all similarly vulnerable, capable and who are reaching for the same stars. Hearing your own thoughts and challenges channelled back in a working session on pretty much any topic, gives incredible solace unto itself, even before you start getting into the brainstorming and solutions sessions.
Hopefully to avoid some of the (inevitable) f**k ups: Self-explanatory, right?!! We are all trying to do things for the first time, someone has tried this before in some shape or form. The more we can share what we got wrong, what we wish we had known, etc., might just save us all a lot of heartache!
A first take-away: Speaking with one of the CEOs on the programme, we were discussing talent, the role of recruiters, and also how they do their interviews and candidate assessments. I really like the simplicity of a part of the process they use, whereby anyone involved in the interview process blind scores the candidate on three attributes – Brains, Attitude & Skill – we are going to adopt this across Wazoku going forward. Simple solutions that can add real value.
So I look forward to the next six months and beyond. I will endeavour to keep sharing thoughts and updates as we go. Let me know if you have any questions or other observations or thoughts!