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How our startup grew 1,246.2% in one year?

The Financial Times just recognized Light-it as one of the fastest-growing startups in the Americas this year. It's true, while most companies had a rough year because of the pandemic, we grew 1,246.2%. Yesterday a good friend of mine asked me what was "our secret," which honestly sounded kind of silly in my head. We don't have any mind-blowing secret to unveil, and if any successful entrepreneur says he has one, don't trust him. Anyway, there are some actions that really worked for us, and I'd like to share them with you if they might be helpful.

  1. Our HR strategy was centering on hiring highly skilled and, most importantly, very motivated people. If you have a truly talented group of people who love what they do, most of the work will naturally come out. We also put efforts into building a multidisciplinary team with people from different backgrounds; heterogeneity is vital to create successful products. Now, it's important to highlight the relevance of having a common purpose. Having the best talent is useless if the team doesn't have a shared goal, which leads us to point two.

  2. We implemented OKRs into our business strategy, and we took them seriously. We established key results (goals) for each sector and each and every person on the team. This had an enormous impact not only because people were motivated to achieve their goals but also because they aligned everyone in the same direction. With OKRs, everyone is on the same page and pushes towards the same goal. This was also helpful for individual prioritization. Implementing OKRs was one of the most impactful strategies, and I strongly recommend them to all companies; they will surely help your business mature.

  3. We understood we couldn't figure out everything by ourselves and hired the best mentors in the industry. We made amends with being young leaders with little experience in the industry and realized that bringing in consultants meant bringing in the years of experience we didn't have. There are some things that you can only learn with time, so as we didn't have that, we "bought it" by hiring these people that had loads of experience in similar companies. The mentors' insights, ideas, and questions made us move forward much quicker.

  4. We stopped assuming and used data to make decisions on every company sector, including sales, marketing, product development, and human resources. This accelerated processes and prevented us from failing or making mistakes. Data allowed us to make educated decisions in every sector; for example, when we wanted to add a new benefit for our collaborators, we asked them with a survey instead of assuming what they'd prefer.

  5. We started focusing much more and sharpening our scope. We're the best at what we do because we concentrated on it, and this meant saying no to opportunities that weren't a perfect match with our business. We only got involved with clients that were a good match with us and that we trusted were going to be successful. We realized it's not worth it to jump into a project you don't believe in, or that isn't your specialty. So my advice is FOCUS; even though this might look like missing out at first glance, it will be better in the long term.

  6. We adapted to the pandemic quickly. I'm not "bragging" about this, it was easier for us because of the industry we're in and the fact that we build digital products and people are consuming more digital. Still, it's significant to highlight the importance of adapting to change and problem-solving. Businesses that were successful this year were those who moved quickly. Quoting Darwin "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change."

I hope these insights are helpful for your business strategy, and I'd love to answer any questions you might have in the comments.

  1. 2

    tl;dr: we did all these things and they worked.

    it's hard to actually find... actual tactics beyond generalities... "focus" doesn't help me much... neither does "sharpening our scope"... unless you share with me how you actually sharpened scope.

    .. and who doesn't want to hire the "best" talent? that's not a strategy... that's common sense.

    1. 2

      When we started and were bootstrapping the company hiring the "best of the best" wasn't such a clear decision for us, we wanted to, but financially that meant making other sacrifices like not paying the founders. I'm glad we decided to do so because that allowed us to delegate more responsibilities to professionals we trust, grew faster as a company, and started paying us good salaries after a short period of time.

      An example of how we sharpened the scope was rejecting well-paying projects that did not align with the industries or technologies we wanted to gain expertise in. We wanted to be the experts in this technology and these industries rather than be somehow good on all these other frameworks and have a potpourri of projects in our portfolio that no one could really relate to.

  2. 1

    How do you implement smart OKRs? Meaning when you know the objectives are ambitious but doable, and can assess reaching them will be beneficial enough?

    And congrats on the growth!

    1. 1

      Most of the time, we do not complete all the KR's, and that's fine; if we do, that means we weren't ambitious enough. The opposite can also happen, so the challenge is keeping the right balance between ambition and doability. They say mastering OKR's takes about a year for an organization. I think the retrospective evaluation of the quarter helps you set more balanced OKR's for the next quarter. Regarding OKR's being beneficial for the organization, they are if the objectives of each department and individual align with the companies year goals and quarterly objectives.

  3. 1

    We made amends with being young leaders with little experience in the industry and realized that bringing in consultants meant bringing in the years of experience we didn't have. There are some things that you can only learn with time, so as we didn't have that, we "bought it" by hiring these people that had loads of experience in similar companies.

    With everyone always hating on people who're in the business of expertise, I'm glad to see you guys bucking that trend.

    Congrats!

    P.S. Wanted to follow on Twitter but your account is jacked.. Got an alternative one?

      1. 1

        Followed on both brother!

    1. 1

      Oh, and my Twitter account got suspended for "impersonation" a couple of months ago, IDK why, but I haven't been able to get it back.

      In the meanwhile you can follow me on Linkedin :)

    2. 1

      Yep, maybe we were lucky to find the right experts, I'm sure there are lots of snake oil salesmen too.

  4. 1

    What's your industry?

    1. 1

      We are a digital product development agency, we basically build software products.

  5. 1

    What book do you recommend to learn about OKRs?

    1. 2

      Google's OKR playbook is a great starting point: https://www.whatmatters.com/resources/google-okr-playbook/

      Also the OKR Bible: Measure What Matters by John Doerr is highly recommended (I loved that book).

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