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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Hastings

How to Scale a Startup, Build Value, and Strategize Exit, with Matt Little

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

For a technology startup to successfully scale, build value, and successfully exit, there are critical key factors that business owners and leaders should keep in mind. I am honoured to have a very special guest on the first episode of the Lucent Perspective Podcast - Matt Little.

Matt is an experienced founder and founding team member who has been through 5 exits (co-leading two, advising on a further two, and technical lead on another), and he now helps companies to scale faster and better. I have had the opportunity of working with Matt to place critical roles when scaling their business.

In this episode, Matt shares his insights on the following critical areas:

  1. Growing a team rapidly

  2. The difference between being effective and efficient

  3. CTO, CPO, and CPTO roles.

  4. When to plan and strategize your Exit.

  5. Essential qualities that a leader should have.

Episode Outline and Highlights

[01:00] Matt’s professional background and how he started in the startup world.

[06:17] Matt shares the challenges they faced during the early stage of their business.

[09:21] Key factors in growing the team rapidly.

[13:50] The difference between effectiveness and efficiency when building your teams.

[18:20] Transitioning from a CTO to a CPTO role.

[24:38 How to bring value to the business as a consultant and advisor.

[27:30] Balancing resource allocation between product and tech.

[31:30] The importance of recruiters understanding the roles the business is looking for.

[34:10] What to do when growth in the company is beginning to stall.

[37:40] When should companies begin strategizing on Exit?

[42:21] What qualities do leaders need to possess to be successful?

Unconventional Approach to Growing the Business

Matt and I talked about how they were able to scale their business with ZoneFox, a leading cloud-based security platform that exited to Fortinet. They started with six staff and grew to 25. Matt took the call of growing the team by wave instead of a slow trickle, more than doubling the company overnight. Although many would advise on growing slowly for easier adaptability and team management, Matt believes that building the team rapidly was the right thing to do. His logic was to treat the team as a cohort where all of the members would come in at the same time. This worked well for their team as it promoted camaraderie among the new members. They also put up the ZoneFox University, a well-structured well thought out onboarding program.

Transitioning From a CTO to a CPTO Role

Starting ZoneFox as a Chief Technology Officer, he transitioned to the CPTO role. Matt discussed what the CPTO role was and what led him to transition to that role. “I think over the years I began to realize there is a difference between writing really good code directed by gut feel, to actually managing the risk better and actually asking customers more. Understanding what job they are trying to do and then solving that.”

Matt shared his early learnings from the mistake of only driving the product too much based on his intuition. He found more effective ways and relayed his story of how he came up with being really close to the customer, testing the products, and being more open to feedback.

What to Do When the Company’s Growth Begins to Stall

I wanted to hear Matt’s advice on what to do if a company’s growth begins to stall, as I have seen in some startups. Matt is in an excellent position to provide insight as a consultant and business advisor who has been in the industry for decades.

What are the places that people should be looking to get to the root of the problem? For Matt, it is about going back to the basics.

  • What is it that worked before that is not working now?

  • Have we stopped listening to customers and building something they don’t want?

The best action point is to go back and speak to customers, understanding how people are using your products, and getting data on what is happening to your product will enable you to come up with a solution and adjust your strategy.

About Matt Little

In the past 20 years, Matt has led product and technology divisions and teams in startups, scale-ups, and global multinationals. Matt is an experienced CPTO, CTO, VP of Engineering, and VP of Product.

Matt now works with company boards as an advisor or CPTO/CTO to build their value and achieve successful exit readiness.

Resources and People Mentioned

Connect with Rebecca Hastings

Rebecca has extensive executive search experience within the digital and technology sector. With a talent acquisition and consulting background, she has led businesses through complex changes and fast-paced scale-up periods. Rebecca has worked with investor-backed startup and scale-up companies as well as established corporates and the public sector advising on leadership teams, job design, workforce planning, strategic talent management, recruitment processes and associated technology, candidate experience, employer brand development, and recruitment analytics. She has led, built, and managed teams, designed and implemented outsourced recruitment solutions, and created and executed local, national, and international search projects.

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