'Master Of Scale' Gabriel Luna-Ostaseski On Magic Ingredients Of Scaling Your Startup

On the 6th December 2018, Heavy Chef - in partnership with Nedgroup Investments - is bringing Silicon Valley ‘Master of Scale’ Gabriel Luna-Ostaseski to Cape Town for an exclusive four-hour Masterclass on scaling businesses.

Fred Roed, CEO of Heavy Chef spoke to Gabe in anticipation of his visit.

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Gabe - what's the secret to scale? Is there such a thing as a magic ingredient, or a magic recipe to growing quickly?

Honestly, there's no magic or secret formula. There are, however, methods, strategies and frameworks that can be applied to help accelerate growth.

I typically focus on these fameworks because they can be applied to a wide variety of businesses and are helpful mental models that can reduce the cognitive load.

What have you noticed as a common thread in the companies that you've worked with?

Companies often talk about "how do I scale this", when they are in the early days. I believe that this is really the wrong question for early stage project teams to be asking. In most cases they don't have scaling problems, they have product market fit problems. To quote Marc Andreessen, startups really have two phases, pre-product market fit and post-product market fit. During pre-product market fit the focus should be on doing anything to find a set of customers that have a consistent problem that you can solve profitably.

This means totally focusing on the customer, their problems and how you can potentially solve them.

Fall in love with the customer and the problem. Not your solution.

At Uber, what was the culture like when you worked for them, before it reached the hockey stick inflection point?

When I was helping Uber they were already pretty far along. I was helping them design the Go-to-market plan for their Uber Rush program, which was like working within a startup inside of a larger startup.

At that stage, Uber had an incredible amount of distribution and resources, but still needed to go through the same incubation and product market fit issues that any other startup goes through.

Is there such a thing as 'balance' - I mean, can you achieve both being a good parent / friend / partner as well as immersing yourself in a high-growth / high-impact project? - and do you know of anyone getting this balance right?

Great question - and one that I've always struggled with as an entrepreneur.

It's all consuming and honestly takes a ton of mental energy to get a business off the ground, especially if you haven't done it before or have limited resources, in terms of time and money.

Typically as founders develop more expertise - new frameworks for how to prioritize and get things done - they attract more resources, in terms of time and money.

This formula typically enables them to find more balance.

Who are the new kids in Silicon Valley? Any signs of a new Stripe, or the latest Uber, that you can see with your investor eye?

I think that there are some every interesting projects in crypto and blockchain that are coming out of SV these days. Most of these haven't reached any significant scale but as time goes on we'll see more companies embracing these new computing platforms and incentive mechanisms, especially as they relate to marketplaces.

Thank you Gabe! We can’t wait to work with you in Cape Town.

Readers, you can still buy your seat at Gabe’s table next week. There are a limited number of tickets available, book yours here.