Think global from day zero


Ari Helgason is one of the main speakers at Startup Extreme this summer, 12-14th June 2018.

He is a former entrepreneur with both an operating and investing background. He is part of Index Ventures where his investment focus is enterprise software, SaaS and fintech across all stages.

“At Index Ventures, we are looking for companies with strong product visions, addressing big markets in a scalable way. We want companies that have ambition to become global category leaders. We prefer software companies to hardware, and it can be both b2b or b2c.”

He adds that they don’t usually invest in the early stages of the companies. However, they like to meet companies early and follow their development over time.  

If you want to build a successful scaleup you have think global from day zero, or even before that.
— Ari Helgason

Prior to Index Ventures, Ari co-founded both the SaaS workflow management company WOAH Sales and ecommerce startup Fabricly—the former right out of university. He is also an alumni of Y Combinator. All of this has taught him a thing or two on how to build successful scaleups.
The most important thing is to approach international scaling fairly early on.

“A typical mistake we see founders make in the beginning is choosing to test their product out in local markets, and then expand globally. But if you are not looking at the global market from the start, you might end up building a product or a service that is outdated or wrong.”

He adds that not every business has to be global.

“However, if you have international ambitions for your company, you should lay the foundations for scaling up the company from the beginning.”

Other mistakes he sees founders  make when it comes to scaling is keeping the culture throughout the organisation.

“When scaling it is easy to lose the cultural cohesion in the organisation. You have remote offices, new people and new countries. Focusing on hiring local talent is not enough; one of the founders should move out and follow up the work.”

Another challenge when it comes to scaling is a lack of playbook in some scaleups.

“You have founders wanting to expand at once, but often end up making the same mistakes all over again because there is no playbook on how things are done, checklists and routines. A set of guidelines, more focus on HR and hiring the right people from the beginning can lay the necessary foundation for a successful scaleup.”

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Info: The topic of Startup Extreme this year is scaleups - why? Every year, we at Startup Extreme strive to be at the forefront of the needs and trends in our growing startup ecosystem. Read  more here to learn why we want to focus on scaleups.

Maria Amelie