Sustainability over Hacks: How Embracing Growth Partners Can Spark a Startup's Journey


Sustainability over Hacks: How Embracing Growth Partners Can Spark a Startup's Journey

Seedstars Global

JUNE 07, 2023

Regardless of the industry, business model, geography, or team, all startups have one thing in common: they want to grow fast. Growth is the key that unlocks all other doors to success. But the secret to long-term startup success isn't hacking the way to growth but building a solid foundation and a repeatable process.



The allure of quick, explosive growth has captivated the startup world, but recent events show that this approach may not guarantee sustained success. Take the case of the social network Clubhouse; its initial skyrocketing popularity was only fleeting. Despite the initial hype, it couldn't sustain the momentum. Clubhouse co-founder and CEO Paul Davison acknowledged that hype and extreme hypergrowth are not beneficial for the company: “I don’t think hype is good, I don’t think extreme hypergrowth is good for a company. The ideal is to grow at a steady pace.”

How might things evolve if specialists lend their expertise right from the beginning?

In a perfect world, founding teams would have access to all the skills and resources necessary to grow both quickly and sustainably. In reality, most startups fail frequently due to an insufficient pace of long-term growth. Launching a company usually involves a tight-knit team of 2.1 to 2.3 co-founders. They often split the roles of business strategy and technical development between them, leaving a gaping hole in growth strategy. And that's where a growth partner enters the picture.

Introducing Growth Partners

At Seedstars International Ventures, we're deeply committed to fostering sustainable growth, viewing it as a pivotal cornerstone for our portfolio companies' success. This has led us to collaborate with Growth Partners — accomplished experts well-versed in steering early-stage startups through the challenging initial years. These Growth Partners, often successful entrepreneurs, bring invaluable lessons from their journeys, helping startups unlock their potential for sustainable growth. They usher in a culture of data-driven decision-making and structured experimentation, setting the stage for continuous growth. Their role is truly a catalyst, inspiring and guiding startups to thrive sustainably in their unique journey towards success.

Working closely with Growth Partners is at the heart of our unique Growth Track: a tailored consultancy program crafted for startup teams. It's a triad of growth-inspiring elements: we kick-start with demonstration sessions that showcase proven global growth strategies and underlying methodologies. This is followed by weekly sessions with Growth Partners, where we adapt and apply these practices to each startup's specific business model and market. The final puzzle piece is peer support, fostering a vibrant community of entrepreneurs sharing ideas and sparking mutual inspiration for experimentation. This synergistic approach lights the path towards sustainable growth, revolutionising how startups navigate their journey to success.

Finding Your Perfect Growth Partner

While we at Seedstars feel fortunate to provide our portfolio companies with Growth Partners as part of our value creation platform, we also firmly believe in the power of self-initiative. It's an excellent idea for founders to step out and find their own Growth Partners, independent of their investor's network. After all, crafting your startup's growth story is a rewarding journey that begins with your vision.

When seeking the perfect Growth Partner, startups should aim for an expert who understands their industry and region well and has a knack for boosting growth in their specific business model. It's crucial to choose a partner with a history of guiding startup teams effectively and who has success stories of crafting enduring growth strategies.

Convinced that a growth partner can bring you immense value? Finding the right growth partner requires consideration - here's a friendly guide to help:

Track Record: Find someone with the battle scars of past ventures. You're looking for proof of their competence, illustrated by the growth they've catalysed in other startups. Use LinkedIn or other online resources to delve into their professional past and check their references.

Analytical Rigor: The best growth partners make decisions based on data.. When evaluating potential partners, ask them about their growth plan for your startup. Are they able to craft strategic initiatives backed by data? Do they lean towards quantitative metrics and KPIs, or are they prone to rely on intuition?

Communication: This is about more than just being articulate. The ideal growth partner can distil complex problems into simple, actionable steps. So, treat your search for a growth partner like hiring for a crucial role. Speak to multiple candidates and evaluate their communication skills, particularly their ability to translate complex ideas into clear, actionable steps.

Success Stories

Implementing growth processes and strategies in collaboration with Growth Partners has resulted in numerous success stories. Through the Seedstars Growth Track, we have witnessed remarkable improvements in Growth Metrics, with top performers experiencing a 75% boost and securing subsequent funding within a year. One example is Jumba, a B2B construction materials procurement company in Kenya, which achieved exceptional growth and reaped rewards. Peace Osangir, the CFO of Jumba, added: "We had so many ideas we wanted to experiment with, and just getting the guidance from <<our Growth Partner>> on what to experiment with was useful". Jumba team have benefited from those learning experiences, as they have secured $4.5 million in funding while they are in the phase of scaling the business and expanding throughout East Africa to make a significant impact on the housing deficit.

Growth Partner vs Mentor

The idea of hiring someone externally to advise an early-stage company is as old as the hills - accelerators have been working with mentors for years. What makes a growth partner better, then?

Firstly, it's about clarity. Various stakeholders in the startup world understand the mentorship role very differently. A very thin line exists between a coach, mentor, advisor and consultant. As a result, founders often struggle to find the right fit, access mentors, establish trust and define clear expectations.

Secondly, growth partners offer focused attention. They work with only one or two ventures simultaneously, ensuring a deep focus on each project's needs.

Thirdly, growth partners concentrate solely on growth aspects and follow a specific methodology. Mentors, on the other hand, cover a wide range of topics (from pitch deck design to operations and fundraising) and often work with multiple startups.

The long-term relationship between a growth partner and a startup holds immense value. Growth partners have a personal stake in the startup's success, often receiving compensation through equity or carried interest from the VC. This alignment fosters dedication and ongoing support, paving the way for a lasting partnership that fuels long-term success.

The TL; DR

Sustainable growth is the foundation of success and should be prioritised early on. An external, trusted consultant, i.e. "Growth Partner", can bring much value to the table. Having the backing of a VC investor in this endeavour can be a game-changer for many companies.

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