13 Top Tips for Startups (wanting to be grown up!)


We had a fantastic evening with Andy Batty, General Manager of onefinestay where he spoke at dinner about taking a company from start-up to grown-up. (Read the #AfterDinnerRoundup here.)

What limits start-ups is a perception that a shortage of funds is the problem.

Here’s Andy’s top tips for start-ups:

  1. Create an employee brand as well as a company brand.
  2. You need to try to keep your staff… Start ups often recruit then cull as money runs out but acting like this means you lose your skill and talent, creating a culture of fear of job loss.
  3. Go for the minimum level to prove your concept; avoid paralysis through perfection. Invest in tech but do it cheaply.
  4. For tech, only build in-house what is totally necessary. Try to work with what is already available.
  5. Don’t break the brand.  With hindsight, the team at Tough Mudder realised they’d expanded too quickly and that affected cash flow. This meant when they entered the German market, they had a limited product in order to save money. This in turn impacted the customers’ experience which essentially ‘broke’ the brand concept.
  6. Both Tough Mudder and onefinestay use the Net Promoter score as they’re both customer-focused. It is key to any customer-specific business. A high Net Promoter score drives repeat business. Use this!
  7. Have a strong brand. Think Tough Mudder’s Orange Headbands. Understand what your customer wants.
  8. Understand what your customers are willing to pay for. Make sure everything is of value and is really what the customer wants. (They may think they want it but will they if you take it away?)
  9. Employ People Managers. Make sure your people can see a career path; accept that staff won’t be there forever as people don’t have a ‘career for life’ anymore. Good people managers are game changers. They save money. They keep the work force happy and improve quality.
  10. It is better to have 100 people who love you and they will tell everyone else. One person will tell 10 people about a bad experience. One person will only tell one person if it was a good experience. Look after your first 100 customers. (TC Editor: Although social media takes this concept to a whole new level!)
  11. Have amazing customer service and satisfaction. The turning point for onefinestay was when AccorHotels came along and they needed to buy us because they realised we had fab customer service and satisfaction. And an amazing brand, of course.
  12. Control and management. You need this. You need checks and balances. Ensure you have clear KPIs. onefinestay takes smart decisions about cost cutting and demonstrated to AccorHotels that we had the right people and the right expansion plan.
  13. Have two important guidelines and principles to operate by. For onefinestay, they are:
    – How would you want your grandma treated if she was a customer?
    – How would you want your friend’s house treated?

For more tips and tricks from our speakers, check out our top tips blogs. Although, nothing beats meeting our speakers in person – so come join us for dinner!

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