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The Challenges of Scaling Up: The importance of the human touch

The Challenges of Scaling Up: The importance of the human touch

By Oxford Capital | Aug 13th 2018

The BVCA recently gathered together Venture Capital (VC) and Private Equity (PE) professionals to discuss what everyone in this arena is looking for – high growth.
Scaling up is a key stage in the journey to high growth and a panel including Oxford Capital’s David Mott discussed the challenges investors face when backing early stage companies. David Kpedelo of Panoramic Growth Equity echoed the comments of True’s Oksana Stowe on the importance of the flexibility of the founder; “having the courage to make that transition from being everything to being the CEO or the head of sales or the CTO is often quite a big challenge for the founders.”

Oksana highlighted that where founders are not able to do this, it can be a real roadblock to the potential success of the company and for True, it has certainly contributed to failures. As a result, the best VC or PE backers provide the mentoring and guidance to founders to help them navigate the uncertainties and insecurities of giving up a piece of their baby.

Shirin Dehghan of Frog Capital went further; cash from funding sources is obviously crucial, but, while founders may be brilliant and incredibly innovative within their field, many will never have run a business. As a result, “a lot of founders don’t know what they don’t know.” This is where investors with an operational background can bring invaluable input beyond money.

At Oxford Capital, we back founders and teams first and foremost. We look for world class technical founders who are collaborative, energetic, bold, mission driven and data-focused. And we take an active role in investee companies.

The issues can be as seemingly simple as how to incentivise a sales team with quotas, or what a good CFO looks like. In fact, they will very often involve the original team and bringing in the right people and processes to support and nurture them. Henry Sallitt of FPE Capital described how essential it is to put good systems and processes in place to facilitate the development of high growth, but again, brought it back to the human element: “You need the right people to do that. We do a lot of assessment of the current teams to understand their characteristics and the type of people who will fit in.”

The right people make it much easier to make the right choices within the strategy for scaling up and ensuring it is realistic – whether that be having the right experience and technical knowledge to judge if the market is ready to embrace a particular product, or the insight to identify the relevant parties to engage as customers.

In 2017, Crunchbase named Oxford Capital as the third most active VC investor in the market and with a combined total of over 60 years’ experience in this field in our Ventures team, we recognise the value of our participation beyond money. We understand that the best way to execute an idea to fulfill its high growth potential, is to have the best people, informed by business experience and strong operational guidance. And that is what we can provide.

For more information about Oxford Capital’s VC investments, click here.

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