Applying a Startup Mentality to Mature Companies

Applying a Startup Mentality to Mature Companies

When you hear the word "startup" what comes to mind? Most people typically associate startups with being scrappy, innovative and fast to pivot. Characteristics that are essentially the opposite of those associated with the corporate world.

As a young business looking to scale, this definition of a startup makes sense. Few people, however, know about the unconventional way startups can serve as a guide for mature companies looking to innovate.

What am I talking about when I say “mature” company? These are companies that are well-established but have fallen behind in the adoption of technology into their business operations. They are basically starting from the same place as a startup, which is a very limited digital footprint, but also possess the scale and complexity of an enterprise-level company. Sound familiar?

Mature companies have typically avoided tech and changes in process at all costs, even though we are living in the Digital Age. A time where technology has permeated — no matter who you are or what you do — your everyday operations, customers and employees. There’s just no stopping it! With all of this pressure to modernize business operations, we are at the beginning stages of a dynamic shift. A shift where these companies are finally open and looking to advance their use of technology as a whole. They not only have to innovate one department, branch or market, they have to overhaul nearly every touchpoint in their business operations. This type of thorough digitization process is called Digital Transformation, and it’s exactly what Majestyk specializes in! Companies are excited to be able to drive efficiency, reduce costs, scale quicker, gain competitive advantage, amongst many other benefits and Majestyk is here for you every step of the way.

So your company finally acknowledges the need to innovate. Your board is super excited, the next fiscal year looks amazing — you’re ready to get started on your Digital Transformation! There’s just one issue. Your company has historically operated the same way for years and your existing methods are likely not technology-driven or forward-thinking, which is why you’re looking to digitally transform in the first place. Using these old methods as the approach to innovating your business is contradictory to your end goal, and is suboptimal to say the least. We need to first address the how. Luckily there’s an industry that definitionally is forward-thinking and disruptive and technologically advanced: the startup industry! Successful, high-growth startups do have aspects that you can replicate in mature companies.

Let’s take a look at how startup methodologies can help build the strategy behind approaching your company’s Digital Transformation roadmap.




The Mindset: First step – Be innovative!  

I’m only halfway kidding here. One of my favorite quotes to throw at clients is Henry Ford’s “If you ask the people what they want, they’d say a faster horse.” Every day I have clients come to me who have essentially looked at their competitors, maybe checked out a few out-of-the-box software and have integrated a ton of white-labeled software into their operations. They’ve effectively frankensteined together a solution of annual subscription fees in order to integrate technology into their business. 

I’m here to tell you, that’s not the way to go.

Startups come about because there’s a gap — a better way something can be done with technology. We naturally question these pre-existing solutions. The lesson? Don’t be reduced to the technologies that already exist in the market. Don’t settle for a faster horse. Create the first automobile. Now that doesn’t mean that no third parties can be utilized, it just means that it’s important to audit each moving part thoroughly and honestly assess when and where you may need an upgrade, a custom build, etc. Keep questioning: Does this address the problem in the best way? Should this be a custom build? What else could this do? How does this connect to all the other moving parts in my Digital Transformation blueprint? You have to constantly keep your eyes peeled for these potentially missed opportunities in order to discover the very best solution for your business.


“If you ask the people what they want, they’d say a faster horse.”



The Blueprint

I’ve been a part of a number of early-stage startups. In New York, we do it out of 5-story walk ups rather than garages, but you get the idea. The very early-stage startup company can actually mirror a business that’s faced with Digital Transformation quite a bit. Both, are faced with the same essential challenge – defining a scope of work and figuring out how technology can actually improve process and operations. When you’re starting from the ground up, that basically means figuring out everything.

This is the point where many people throw up their hands, already frustrated and overwhelmed. It is so hard to know what to address first as you create your Digital Transformation roadmap. Every stakeholder has themselves or their team front of mind, and people have opposite opinions of how to approach such a huge project. The solution here is to prioritize. In the startup world, this is usually begins by having conversations with a handful of people to determine pain points and priorities. But for a large corporation, there can be a lot more voices and opinions on your roadmap. So how do we go about prioritizing with so many differing backgrounds and opinions?

The other day I was in a conference room with a new client, discussing what we’re building and defining the scope of work. In the middle of our conversation, the head of customer support came in literally crying because she was so overwhelmed with calls. Meanwhile the CEO was just telling me they want a fun Augmented Reality feature of their app. Spoiler – we automated customer support first.

The only way to move past everyone’s conflicting interests is objectivity. Define the final end goal Key Performance Indicator — whether it be efficiency in your operations, increasing sales, customer experience, etc. Take each aspect and give it a common measure of impact.

The only way to move past everyone’s conflicting interests is objectivity. Define the final end goal KPI, or Key Performance Indicator — whether it be efficiency in your operations, increasing sales, customer experience, etc. Take each aspect and give it a common measure of impact. That’s what we’re going for: impact. Which module or department or new implementation is going to make the most impact as it relates to your end KPI? With that measure, you can engineer your Digital Transformation roadmap. It’s a mechanism for mediation but also will ensure that you’re addressing the most significant pieces of your roadmap first.


The Insurance Policy

Now you have your roadmap all planned out, and you’ve objectively prioritized, and you’re being innovative...what’s missing? Accountability. One of the biggest misconceptions about startups is that you get to “be your own boss”. That’s definitely not true. In the startup world, investors and board members act as the mechanism of accountability for founders. They are always grilling you on your performance, latest metrics and updates. The lesson for mature companies is that there needs to be an overarching mechanism to hold your Digital Transformation roadmap accountable.

We’re embarking on uncharted territory, so unknown factors are bound to arise. Corporations and legacy businesses have a stability and history that often shields them from this idea of quickly pivoting strategies. Startups, however, have the potential of failure ingrained in their minds and therefore are always paying attention to their customer, numbers, analytics, and are much quicker to react. You likely won’t get to your second investor conversation without having a solid plan to pivot in nearly “what if” scenario. The pivot should be built into the DNA of the plan itself, and it’s something corporations need to be ready for so you’re not scrambling once something doesn’t work out like you thought it would.

You can do all the planning and all the strategizing you want, but won’t build the best solution possible if you’re not consistently taking in the user analytics and feedback on your platforms. This will ensure that you’re successful no matter what comes your way.

If you’re creating consistent feedback mechanisms to measure the success of your multifaceted, very complex solution, it will hold you accountable for the success of that solution. Coupled with the pre-positioned pivoting mapped out in all your “what if” scenarios, you’ll be constantly optimizing and updating your solution. You can do all the planning and all the strategizing you want, but won’t build the best solution possible if you’re not consistently taking in the user analytics and feedback on your platforms. This will ensure that you’re successful no matter what comes your way.

Now that’s a bit about the strategy behind the roadmap of your company’s Digital Transformation. The most exciting conversation, however, is ahead of us: What creative, innovative, impactful technologies can we build for your company to move into the future?

Contact our strategy team to learn more!

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