For this episode of Secrets for Scaling, we spoke with Sharon Savariego, Co-Founder and CEO of Mobilize - a software enabling companies to organize and communicate with their external network. Founded in 2014, Mobilize is now a team of 30 with over 150 customers and a Series A under its belt. To get there, they’ve taken a thoughtful and unique approach to finding their first customers and growing their team. The result is a company focused on sustainable momentum.
Learn more about their story and tactics in the full episode below!
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Pick your first customers wisely. Mobilize was picky about who their first beta customers were to establish use cases with problems they knew they wanted to solve. They worked closely with them as design partners to ensure they developed a solution to their needs with all the best practices. They opened beta to the public once they felt good about their onboarding process.
Meet with your first customers regularly to meet their needs. They met with their beta partners every other week to talk about features, functionality, and if/when they’d buy an annual plan. The result was a product that other companies in those markets would also use.
Talk about your solutions in simple terms. When Sharon first saw VentureBeat announce Mobilize as “a better alternative to Google Groups,” she was upset because the product does much more. She later realized (thanks to being on page one of search results for ‘Google Group Alternatives’) that it was good and people want simple solutions they understand. So much so, that the organic traffic brought hundreds of leads per month for Mobilize.
Use metrics to align your product with your goals. Mobilize’s first hire was a head of product who set up all of their analytics and dashboards. He made sure each product metric aligned with their goals and that only features aligned with their focus were built.
Your team will become more specialized over time. Your first few hires in the first 1-2 years of business will likely be jacks of all trades who wear many hats. But over time, especially after raising a Series A, you’ll want to hire people experienced and skilled in specific areas to do an effective, focused job.
A seasoned operations person will be your secret growth weapon. After raising a Series A, they hired a seasoned executive as their COO who runs operations. She also created processes that allow the business to run efficiently and grow effectively.
Deliver the same information to your entire team. When growing the team, Sharon read Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal and Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. Though they’re from very different perspectives, both books taught her about shared consciousness. For everyone to have the same goal, everyone has to have the same information, know exactly what their individual goals are, and to believe in the vision. These three things will lead to true collaboration. Without them, silos will be built.
Share your investor deck with your whole team. The pitch deck is the best way to force you to articulate your vision in the most effective way. So on each employee’s first day, Sharon goes through the entire deck with them to make sure they’re aligned with the vision.
Reverse-engineer your business model to keep your team focused. Sharon reverse engineered their business model. They started with their big, qualitative goals and broke down each by tasks, creating a funnel of metrics. Then they matched each section - or metric - with a team or person. She made sure everyone knew they owned their metric and were empowered to decide how to reach the goal. At the end of the exercise, everyone had a clear idea of what they were working on, why, and what their goal was.
It’s the CEO’s job to watch for gaps in the funnel and help the team close them. Once the entire team knows what they’re working on, Sharon and the leadership team help spot “broken links” in the funnel. That is, places they’re not meeting their goals as a team. They then help find solutions to mend those links.
Don’t let scaling distract you. Scaling can derail you as a company if you’re trying to accomplish all of your ideas at once. But if you have patience from your investors and team, don’t only think about the next leap, but rather, how to keep up the momentum. It’s better to focus on consistent growth each month, rather than doing one huge thing at a time. Focus on growing step by step, adding one person, then another, then another, etc.