You’ve started up. Your customer base is growing. Revenue is coming in. What’s the secret to scaling up and taking your business to the next level?
This is one of the key aspects every startup must address in its formative years. Apart from having an exceptional product, you also need to convert sales leads into paying customers. And then what? You need to grow, to mature into a fully-fledged sustainable business.
So, how is it all done? We’re happy you asked. It’s all down to white chocolate, being a psycho and Linux Mint apparently. Well, not exactly. Read this week’s Startup life Q&A series, where we sit down and chew the fat with Pavlos Stampoulides, Psychometric Solutions Director at Psycholate, to find out.
Psycholate, one of the fast-growing startups in the Starttech portfolio, is an online psychometric test and questionnaire publishing company.
Q1: So Pavlos, how would you briefly describe startup life? Or for want of a better expression, what’s it like working at a software startup like Psycholate?
Pressure to deliver. A lot. But immense joy from collaborating with other companies at the time when they are most innovative.
Q2: What do you enjoy most about your role?
Being able to really do things, see solutions from vision to action. Doing creative things and learning. (Now that’s what I’m talking about! – Ed)
Q3: Psycholate has been in operation for 6 years now. What steps did you and the team take to help the scaling up process so far?
We delivered, and continue to deliver, top quality work. The effect of this was simple. Our current clients introduced us to new ones. You can’t beat a great recommendation. It’s the most satisfying (and cheapest) way to grow.
Q4: Great. Now, how about pain points and challenges. What makes your life difficult at work?
I am expected to deeply focus on new tenders, deliver innovation, explore novel ideas. It’s immensely rewarding but not easy. There are so many distractions. So many day-to-day issues which need my attention.
Q5: When you’re not keeping Psycholate’s customers super happy and reeling in new ones, what do you like to do?
Play with my six-month-old daughter. Learn new things. Get some sleep. (Amen – Ed)
Q6: What do you think are the key factors behind Psycholate’s success in its relatively short life so far?
That we do top quality and high value work that people really need and are happy to pay for.
Q7: Which tools do you use daily and do you have any secret tips and tricks, which boost your success rate?
I run Linux Mint. This offers betweeb 20%-40% more productivity alone. I also love Slack. Most of our clients communicate with us via Slack.
Q8: Are there any other productivity and/or work-life balance tips and hacks you’d like to share with us?
There is no such thing as balance in life (but what about the whole yin and yang) thing? – Ed). In terms of tips and hacks, I would say that I use google calendar to arrange and accept participation in cultural/entertainment events, as well as work meetings, etc. It helps me stay super-organised.
Q9: What would you say to anyone considering getting involved in a startup?
Startup or not, you end up getting things done. When you start, it’s mainly uphill and you do a lot of them. If you are not comfortable with this, forget it. Also, if you end up doing it, it’s a lonely road, so don’t walk it alone.
Q10: Intriguing stuff. Now, time for a few quick fire questions. What’s the last message you sent on Slack (we want the truth – Ed)?
Some confirmation about making a project inactive.
Q11: What’s your favourite film (apart from Psycho obviously)?
The hours, Das Boot, Solaris, Offret.
Q12: Ice cream or chocolate?
White chocolate (yummy, a man after my own heart – Ed)
Q13: Give us a crash course guide in how to spot a psycho?
Look at the mirror. We are all psychos one way or another [Ed backs away slowly].
Q14: When was the last time you did something for the first time?
Six months ago, becoming a father (as a Dad myself I salute you. F*ck game changer, this one is a life changer by all accounts).
Q15: What are your top work-related book recommendations?
“The secrets of consulting. A Guide to Giving and Getting Advice Successfully.” Guaranteed to get your head straight.
Q16: If you could start your own business/startup, what would it be (it’s OK, you can tell me I won’t steal it or tell anyone about it – Ed)?
Starting today, I would do strategic marketing based on computational psychometrics. In plain English, I would develop psychometric models that would read people’s social profiles and target advertising accordingly (wow, almost like the spooky advertising of the future from Minority Report eh – Ed).
Q17: If you had 60 seconds in an elevator with an investor what would you say to persuade them to invest their money in Psycholate?
One of the safest investments. Our clients are growing in various parts of the world and we get a cut from their successes.
Q18: And if you had just 30 seconds to convince a large potential client to get Psycholate, what would you say?
You will be vetted too. If your culture is not good enough we will decline. Part of our mantra of “Respecting People” means I actively care about where we are going and what happens to our people, our clients and our culture.
Thanks Pavlo, it has been a pleasure. Don’t forget to spot me some white chocolate next time you bring some.