Ben Kepes is a technology analyst, commentator and consultant. His commentary has been widely published in such outlets as Forbes, Wired and The Guardian, while he has also been an investor in a large number of early-stage technology start-ups across three continents and has had successful exits to listed and privately held companies in Canada, the US, and the UK. He currently sits on the boards of a number of non-profit, privately held and listed companies in New Zealand and the UK and has won a number of accolades, including being a recipient of the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award in 2016. Here, he shares five things companies should consider before they scale up.
- Nothing is guaranteed. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and maybe (just maybe) selling out early is the best option for you. Sure, there'll be the NBR trolls hating on you, but there ain't nothing wrong with a million bucks for a few years work.
- Want life balance, positive relationships outside of work, and to engage in other hobbies? Maybe going big doesn't align with your other goals. Again, be realistic. If you're up for some seriously hard work for a few years, then go for it. But if you want to be a good partner, parent or community members, think long and hard about that.
- Those VCs who get paid based on the returns they achieve for your investors? Nope, they don't care about you beyond what you can do to deliver them multiples. They might be nice people, but they have a job to do – and that is to make a return for the people entrusting their money with them.
- We're a market of four million people. If you suffer from jetlag, are scared of flying or have a criminal record that means getting into the US is hard... think again. Our version of crossing the chasm happens early – get good at long haul flying.
- It's a wild ride and, if it works within your external constraints, going big is an incredible adrenaline rush. Illicit drugs are illegal, start-ups aren't. The high is (so I'm led to believe) similar.