The other day my CEO came back from a week-long trip to the Valley, and when I asked him how it went, he just shrugged and said “It was OK”.
The thing about the Valley, and I noticed the same thing when I was out there last summer, is that companies just seem to move at a different pace than they do in Europe. This can be a bit of a wake up call when you go out there and realize that you’re not quite as efficient as you thought you were.
We spent a long time discussing why this was. Why is it that Valley companies can move so much faster and grow so much more quickly than their European cousins? Is it the talent? The work ethic? The money?
Experience is Key
I don’t think it’s any of these things. Personally, I think the biggest thing Europe lacks from a start-up’s point of view is the experience. In the Valley it’s easy to find and connect with someone who was one of the first 150 employees at Google or Amazon or Oracle. This access simply isn’t available in Europe. Additionally, when you hire someone in the Valley they tend to come with experience in a start-up either one that has failed or exited (both are useful experiences). This is very slowly starting to be true in London, but in large part we’re all coming from large corporates or consultancies, and those experiences don’t necessarily translate well to running a lean startup.
What this experience really brings to a company, are the processes that lead to success. In the Valley there is much more of a defined tried-and-tested way of doing things. We’ve known for a while that the processes we used at import weren’t always the most efficient and we’ve been making changes to try and fix it, but with no one to point us in the right direction there was a lot of trial and error.
Follow Our Example
Recently, more and more people have been making their processes public; the most famous – and useful – being Google Ventures. These have been a great help to us in revising our process strategy and trying to make the team more efficient. This series will take you through the processes we’ve decided to implement at import, why we decided to use them, how we did it and what the benefits have been.