We invited experts to answer our most frequently questions. Here is what they had to say. Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in our comments section.
Greenwich Dealing Luxembourg
Director & Conducting Officer
My previous experience as Director of a company – which was created less than ten years ago and has already been successfully sold to a leader in its domestic market – taught me three main lessons:
• Focus on things that have a real impact
In a small or medium-size company, executives need to invest a significant part of their time into performing routine activities (what would happen if payments weren’t made or tax returns weren’t filed?). Most of the time, a small or medium-size company has very few employees and someone has to do these things…It is really easy to consider these tasks representative of a productive workday and to be satisfied with them. In a company with more than one employee, it is also common to be interrupted by colleagues. Some interruptions are important, but many are not. The main thing here is to eliminate or minimize the unproductive distractions. You have a limited amount of time, so it’s crucial that you develop a habit of focusing on the most important things.
• Focus on quality
There’s an assumption that once you are growing and money starts flowing in survival mode is over. But actually, it’s even worse and even harder to survive. The common mistake at this stage is to over promise based on initial results and fail to deliver the expected level of quality. Companies often over promise in the hopes of pleasing the client. This type of situation is difficult to recover from. A company must ensure that its projects meet client needs and are delivered on time.
• Focus on talent
If the company has 10 employees and if one of them doesn’t work well, that represents one tenth of your company. The idea is to hire slowly, particularly at the beginning. It is great to find people who are flexible, who will do everything. But after a while, you need people who will do their jobs. Growing your company comes with more opportunities to hire great people because often great people won’t join a company until some of the chaos is tamed and structure is in place. So, let’s be patient. Growing from startup to company presents a critical transition point for organizations. It is of course still necessary to be flexible and agile, but it is also time to establish the right strictness when approaching businesses in order to be reliable and efficient. Not only is this important for clients, but it is also key to attracting and keeping talent inside the organization.
The startup is a concept that isn’t precisely defined. It is often an idea that germinates in the mind of an entrepreneur but that needs to develop its operations in order for a real company to materialize. Market research, business planning, creation of a legal entity – all this leads to a project or an idea becoming a successful company.
When we at Vibrationmaster saw Silicon Luxembourg’s call for contributors, we felt encouraged to share some of the experiences we have gathered along our journey. Of course, this journey – even though business books often try to suggest otherwise – very much depends on the unique circumstances surrounding each business idea.
Vibrationmaster is centered around a patented technology that allows us to manufacture vibration-generating equipment for a multitude of industrial applications. Even though it is not yet widely commercialized, this equipment is especially suited for the fastener industry.
The early years, just after the company was established in 2010, were spent getting to know the technical environment, the standardization authorities and the various industry players. Also, ideas were developed for a possible commercialization of the Vibrationmaster product for the chosen market segment. This early fact-finding work then led to our first minimum viable product: the first presentable piece of hardware that would be used to convince potential customers.
Vibrationmaster is now long past the startup phase. A focused team of eight coworkers has been solidly established within Technoport in Foetz. International players like Toyota Motor Corporation and Elon Musk’s SpaceX work with our products. We also sell our equipment to the leading fastener manufacturers, resellers and distributors. The very positive and encouraging feedback we have received so far motivates us to continue our journey.
The big challenge now is to scale up the whole organization to sell machines to customers outside of our early adopters, who provided the funding during the first years. The task at hand is to create a sustainable revenue flow that will enable us to further grow the company and compete in the international market against globally operating competitors.
Vibrationmaster must now overcome a multitude of barriers to entry by investing in the required organizational infrastructure. Quality management will also be established to deal with the certification authorities and satisfy the requirements of our global customer base. To accomplish this, we expect to recruit as many as 16 people over the coming 24 months.
To do so, Vibrationmaster will have to manage a quantum leap in our organization, which we are committed to achieving. We hope to stay with Technoport for as long as possible and provide a good example for other startups in Luxembourg to follow.
This article was first published in the Autumn 2017 issue of SILICON magazine. Be the first to read SILICON articles on paper before they’re posted online, plus read exclusive features and interviews that only appear in the print edition, by subscribing online.