Scaling a business requires several key characteristics.
The one in charge has to have the wildest ambitions and dreams, demand change, have curiosity, and not just be in it for the money.
Being guided by a greater sense of purpose is also a must!
That is also true for Certainly and the people in and around the company.
But how do you convert a strong purpose into scaling a business that is successful in the long run?
The ideas for AI and chatbots in ecommerce emerged at my previous startup, Leadmill, a leading Mobile Ad Tech platform, when we looked at areas for automation and distribution of our customers’ apps and products.
These ideas are coming to life with Certainly. We want to improve how people interact with products and services online.
Let’s take a look at the digitalization of the Danish public sector as an example.
On one hand, we praise ourselves for being one of the most digitized nations in the world.
On the other hand, people must deal with a Kafkaesque myriad of technologies and below-par user experiences.
They must be nearly superusers to navigate the public IT platforms regardless of whether they interact as private citizens or businesses.
Many websites are developed like this – with the organization’s need in focus rather than the users – creating unnecessary friction. That is simply not good enough.
Certainly’s wildest ambition: Creating a new version of the commercial internet
Through advancement in Conversational AI technology and understanding consumer behavior, Certainly is turning the Internet around.
Now websites must always understand what the end-users need.
That means shifting the conversation from chatbots back to humans and allowing people to use their natural language to get what they want.
We call this the Conversational Web – a new version of the Internet.
As an ambitious scaleup, our goal is to accelerate equal access to products and services online by becoming the default technology choice for the Conversational Web.
We also believe that brand differentiation and customer experience will matter tremendously for scaling a business. Especially in a world of mega aggregators and platforms such as Facebook and Amazon who are commoditizing brand experiences and products.
Having a conversational website will fuel just that; a natural, hyper-personalized user experience at an unlimited scale.
Therefore, we aim to scale business and become the leader of Conversational Commerce.
Our goal is to offer our solutions to both small, medium-sized, and large ecommerce businesses.
We are building a platform that is extremely easy to use for businesspeople (without coding skills).
Certainly platform has a fast time-to-value as well as flexibility for developers and partners to custom-build solutions, integrations, and services.
With more than 800,000 companies in the EU as well as 1.7 million businesses in the US that are servicing 2.14 billion online shoppers globally, there is a fast-growing, addressable market for us.
How to scale a business?
Certainly’s scale-up journey has just begun. Based on our past experiences – both successes and failures – we pursue our mission and vision.
The shift from startup to scaleup is a matter of self-perception and maturity, and we have adapted to reach the right mix of ability, drive, and people. In our expansion, we work with four key drivers.
The right People:
You need to attract the right talent to your organization. We value talent, diversity, and grit over pedigree.
Talent comes in all shapes and sizes and that you need to spot the kind that fits your company.
With more than 20 nationalities in Certainly, we take pride in spotting the right talent for our journey.
Finding employees who are motivated, ambitious, self-driven, and with a high sense of responsibility is key to scaling a business.
Once you have onboarded your key executives for your growth journey, you need to build a clear organizational structure without creating silos.
If you do create silos, they’ll just need to be broken down at a later stage.
Building the Culture:
When choosing specific talent for all areas of your organization, you must focus on both inclusion and exclusion.
I mean this in the most positive sense. By being thoughtful and explicit about our culture and core values, we have made room for talent that thrives within our company culture and company vision.
The common denominator across all employees is curiosity.
It can be a curiosity for anything:
It all comes together around a common curiosity for building the best product that creates value for customers.
Also, we want bold employees who are not afraid to fail. People and organizations learn and develop from successes and mistakes on the way to reaching their goals.
Having a well-developed company culture is a key to successfully scaling a business.
Scaleup companies do not have the rigid organizational infrastructure of traditional enterprise companies. As a business leader in a scaleup, you always have 99 problems.
In growing your business, you must prioritize and focus on the things that really matter in terms of relevance and urgency.
You must focus on your product, your customer segmentation, your KPIs, etc.
During your growth journey, you will have to change which KPIs are most important depending on where your company is on its journey.
Finally, you must always learn from your customers. Use the insights and feedback to improve your product thereby expanding the value you create for your customers.
Know your numbers:
When looking for the right venture capital firms or other types of investors for scaling a business, knowing the numbers is vital.
Investors may buy into your charm, drive, and passion for your business.
They do, however, still need to see that you understand the figures of your business and that you are able to explain your growth story to get them on board for the next chapter of your journey.
Should I stay, or should I go?
Finally, there is the discussion of Europe’s ability to create unicorns and Denmark as a startup country.
I take inspiration from companies such as Zendesk. This is not only because our platforms complement each other and integrate, but because they paved the way for Danish scaleups.
By moving their company to Silicon Valley, they disclosed the shortcomings of the Danish investment community at the time.
They simply could not do what we are doing today: Attracting local, quality investors.
We want to break the pattern that startups turning into scaleups by default must leave Europe.
We believe that we can raise the required capital from world-class venture firms for our international expansion and remain headquartered in Denmark.
Scaling a Business – The Winning Formula
I’ll end with three takeaways if you are scaling a business to assume category leadership.
Firstly, ensure that your company vision matches your aspirations and ambitions, knowing you need more than a profit ratio as your purpose.
Secondly, establish clear and transparent core values, which will attract employees, customers, business partners, and investors alike.
Thirdly, empower your organization by balancing people, culture, and the right mix of KPIs.
Together, they can scale a business beyond your dreams.
Can dreams scale into a highly successful business? Certainly.
This article was written by Henrik Fabrin, CEO, and Co-founder of Certainly