ATE last year, Sherry Coutu, the seasoned angel investor and CEO advisor, put out “The Scale Up Manifesto”, an economic report with widespread implications for the start-up industry. While the report examines how “scale-ups” will drive the global policy agenda for the next generation, it’s
noteworthy that Coutu underscores the importance of “scale-ups” over start-ups as the next phase of corporate growth. Quoting Linkedin co-founder Reid Hoffman, she mentions that “first mover advantage doesn’t go to the company that launches it, but goes to the first company that scales”.
The inability to scale up over the right time period has been the undoing of many promising
start-ups. The felicity with which a start-up can take a promising idea to the market and then work its way through the expansion and eventually, the diversification process, is the ultimate baptism by fire, or in this case, by the market. Although Coutu’s report was primarily aimed at the UK government, there’s enough wisdom that the burgeoning local start-up
ecosystem here can glean from it. For instance, the report identifies scale-ups as a great infrastructural investment for governments, given the myriad employability opportunities and consequentially, GDP growth, which will accompany it.
Closer to home, let’s take a case study of a regular food start-up in the city, Roller Coaster. Founded by Immanuel Rohan when he was fresh of out of college, they’ve been around for three years now. Roller Coaster started out with pop-up stores and kiosks, selling an array of rolls in Koramangala, but Rohan soon realised that he needed to find his niche. So he took his idea to the canteens of
corporate companies, with
simple, functional lunch menus.
And yet, Rohan’s been steadily prepping for expansion, fully aware that you can’t really build a brand in office food courts; or as he puts it: “you’ll just be the rolls counter”. This month, he’s finally taking his start-up into bricks-and-mortar terrain, with a new restaurant called Barbeque Kitchen. For an entrepreneur who started out with limited capital, that’s quite a run.
The biggest challenges of
scaling up in his sector? Labour, he points out, unequivocally. There’s always high attrition in the kitchens and while he’s thankful that his founding team is still intact, he emphasizes the need to provide regular incentives to retain staff. Rohan also points out that while most food start-ups tend to congregate in the Koramangala/Indiranagar
vicinity, it makes sense to scale up with outlets in untapped neighbourhoods, like North Bangalore — something that’s on the agenda with his latest venture.