Mentors' Blog: What startups can learn from corporates

Mentors' Blog: What startups can learn from corporates

05-Dec-2012 by Startupbootcamp

Ilja Linnemeijer is a partner in the Assurance practice at PwC, providing services to national and international companies and startups in the Technology and Entertainment sector.

Been there… done that!

There you are: great team, great idea, ticket to Startupbootcamp and ready to conquer the world. You embark on your journey and after several months of working very hard, your efforts finally pay off. You attract attention from a lot of customers and investors and with every deal you bring in, you feel better and better.

But suddenly, questions start popping up out of nowhere. Questions from tax authorities, investors and other institutions you never heard of. What do all these people want from you? VAT, Corporate income tax, royalties, intellectual property, US GAAP, IFRS, audits, opening offices overseas?

Accelerated growth often leads to growing pains. You will be confronted with things you may not have thought about. Where in the past, companies had quite some time to go through their growth cycle, these days companies are faced with the challenge of dealing with it in a heavily accelerated pace.

It is not uncommon that the cycle of ‘startup – growth – consolidation – prep – exit/IPO’ is done in a period of 5 to 7 years. If everything goes according to plan, you will become a professionally organized international company that is able to deal with the requirements and challenges of a publicly accountable organization.

Mentors to guide you through

The great thing about Startupbootcamp is that you will be surrounded by mentors who have been there before and can prevent you to fall into pitfalls and guide you through this cycle. One of these parties is PwC. We are passionate about working with startups and we bring in a lot of experience. We are involved with companies in all stages of their lifecycle from all over the world. We are proud to be able to say that we stand next to so many founders when they were still working from their kitchen table or garage and we were instrumental to their growth and success.

All mentors in Startupbootcamp have their unique skills. The mentors that PwC brings to the table will be focussed on the financial side of your operations from all angles. We mentor the financial side of your business plan; international structuring; financial aspects of your business modelling and management of your business risks and compliance. Furthermore, our global dedicated startup group will be ready to help you from all parts of the world.

We are bringing our experience of working with large corporates and fast growing startups to Startupbootcamp to help the startups grow in a successful way. In all the years we have worked with large and small companies, we have seen a lot of companies succeed, but also a lot of companies fail. In order to give you a little preview I want to share a small selection of important tips with you as you prepare for growth.

Begin with the end in mind

Think about how you ultimately want to exit and make sure your actions and decisions are geared towards creating the value needed for that exit. If you start thinking about your exit early you will focus your scarce attention to the right things. Moreover, it will help you determine the different steps needed in order to be successful in every way. You will also be able to define what ‘success’ means to you.

Make sure you surround yourself with the right partners from the start

It is important that you are surrounded with the right partners when you are making important, future defining decisions. Too often we have seen that poor, unfocussed decision-making at the outset leads to a lot of expensive repair work afterwards. Whether this is related to strategic decisions or choices like where to place your intellectual property, getting it wrong from the outset can lead to very unwanted consequences and loss of a lot of value.

The world is your playground

You will very soon see that your potential will not just be limited to your home country, but covers large parts of Europe or even the world. Since you will probably grow exponentially it is important to take this fact into account while making your decisions.

At PwC we have a dedicated global team ready to help you with your global and local challenges. Our people know exactly how business is done locally and can help you succeed. As we speak my colleagues in San Jose are getting ready to receive a SBC Amsterdam alumnus and help them find their way in San Jose.

Invest in a proper back office to become scalable

When setting up your business the attention is often on sales, sales and sales. Rightfully, without sales, there will not be a company at all. At the same time though, we have seen several companies fail due to lack of attention to the business side of the business when setting up the fiscal structure (including VAT), putting arrangements in place and building a solid system of controls. The value of having all this in order is often underestimated.

Being able to measure your success in a reliable way and report on it consistently – while at the same time having a proper system of controls to manage your business risks in place – is an important value driver when speaking to investors or other partners. But even more important, you want to be ready to scale. Having all of the above in order will enable you to quickly scale your operations when the number of transactions starts to increase or new offices are opened elsewhere in the world.

International network

When you get admitted to Startupbootcamp Amsterdam we will share a whole lot more information to help you become successful. But we will not just share information. We will also share our international network and involve our external networks and clients wherever possible. All aimed at being the right partner for you on your path to become a successful company.

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