Please meet VentureSCALE Entrepreneur in Residence, Stuart Foster. Stuart is the Founder & CEO of Hustlemore.
VentureSCALE: Give us a brief overview of your background working with tech companies:
Stuart: Stuart is a seasoned marketing veteran with experience in brand strategy, research, advertising and marketing startups. From cutting his teeth in Boston during the founding of his own social consultancy to breaking into brand strategy and advertising at Mullen to leading digital strategy on Volkswagen at Deutsch in Los Angeles, Stuart has strived to be at the forefront of marketing, technology and insight development. Hustlemore was the culmination of these efforts and learning. Stuart sought to bring a big agency experience to accelerated growth and start-up companies here in Chicago.
VentureSCALE: What's your biggest accomplishment as it pertains to scaling an organization?
Stuart: Laying the groundwork (marketing operations & strategy) for several product/business unit launches across multiple categories. For example our client Innovative Express Care, was able to grow their business by nearly 600% in two years, utilizing our combination of technology, strategy (customer journeys & consumer research) and marketing efforts. We're constantly looking for every edge and advantage available to us - and we're not afraid to fail or get our hands dirty. That's been the secret to our success.
VentureSCALE: In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge today facing an early stage company in regards to growing revenue, and how would you recommend they overcome it?
Stuart: Achieving product market fit and REALLY understanding your business/product. I think a lot of start-ups come at their product/business from two distinct angles: Technology or Business. Usually, founders specialize in one or the other. The difficulty there is that they usually have a fatal flaw they need to overcome in order to drive customers to their product. Bringing both sides of the house together is paramount to a successful company. Often, it can be as simple as being brutally honest about whether or not you're meeting a need or a want AND if you're considering different points of view when evaluating your company. These external voices can be key to driving home the opportunities your company has for growth.
VentureSCALE: Best sales, SaaS, Tech and/or business related books, authors, articles, podcasts or newsletters?
Stuart: Masters of Scale - Reid Hoffman - Phenomenal Podcast, Technori (obviously) and recently I've been paying heavy attention to the crypto space so I've been reading: http://www.fintechrising.net/
VentureSCALE: Do you see any interesting future trends as it pertains to growing an early stage tech company?
Stuart: I think funding sources will diversify over the next few years as more blockchain/ICO raises take shape. I also think that investors will demand more governance and control for their time. I also think marketing may get their day in the sun - as we're just about close enough to begin really tracking data from holistic online/offline perspectives.
VentureSCALE: Why is marketing valuable for startups?
Stuart: Simple, it's the messaging. Without effective communication and clarity? The best business or product in the world won't gain any traction. Articulating the "why" or "what" in every conversation is vital for growth. If you aren't able to communicate these simple truths about your business - how are you going to succeed? (You won't).