We’re not an agency, and we’re not a bootcamp.
Startup Core Strengths is focused on providing growth “Core Strengths” coaching for startup founders and teams. Our first goal for you is double- or triple-digit growth. Our second goal for you is self-sufficiency.
Our approach is a little different. Here’s the 1-minute back story.
From PayPal to 500 Startups to the series A crunch
In 2015, I left PayPal to join 500 Startups in the U.K.
Traditionally, 500 Startups runs an accelerator. But, London had no shortage of accelerators.
What London did have was a “Series A Crunch.” Lots of seed rounds, very few successful series As. Still, series A investors were lining up to take me out for lunch to see if I had any deal flow they could tap into.
The capital was there, and so were the seed-stage startups. So what was the problem?
These VCs could not find enough investable companies.
Who’s worth investing in?
What was missing from these companies? Series A traction.
Through my work at 500, I found a lot of seed-stage companies who excelled at hustle. That is, they were able to brute-force and hustle themselves to somewhere between £10K – £50K/month in revenue.
A good start, but their acquisition channels would not scale. They could not find the multiple repeatable channels they needed to break through the £100K MRR barrier.
500 Startups “growth hacks” London
Scaling acquisition was one area where I had some experience, from growing startups in Silicon Valley, to eventually landing at PayPal where I built and ran B2B growth teams.
When 500 Startups tapped me to run a growth-focused investment program for the London ecosystem, the “Distro Dojo” was born. With a mandate to help post-seed companies scale growth on top of existing traction, I led the Dojo and was able to convince some of the UK’s top marketers to join me.
And, it worked!
In the two years that we ran the Dojo, we worked with 35 companies, and earned a “Likely to Recommend” score of 96% from our participating founders.
More important, the Dojo companies experienced an average 12-month growth of 250%, with many companies growing revenue 3X, 5X, even 20X within the first year. Several of our companies also went on to raise strong series A rounds.
Growing more companies
We were thrilled with the results, and wanted to extend that impact beyond our 35 Dojo companies.
We believed that many more startups in Europe had the potential for double- and triple-digit growth, just like our Dojo teams, regardless of where they were on the investment timeline, or whether they were planning to raise money at all.
Startup Core Strengths
Working with the original Dojo team, we’ve now launched Startup Core Strengths. Our mission is to help companies grow, and to empower them to scale that growth without a forever-dependency on an outside agency or consultant.
The 500 Distro Dojo helped us prove out the model, and now we’re opening up the same opportunity to tech startups across Europe, regardless of fundraising status.
We run Startup Core Strengths on 5 core principles:
1. You can’t outsource startup growth.
The most important growth levers cannot be pulled by agencies or consultants. Instead, startup teams must build their core strengths in growth in-house, and the entire organisation needs to be aligned behind that work.
2. Growth follows a power law.
10% of your team’s efforts will drive 90% of your company’s growth results. The key to scalable growth is identifying the right 10% and transforming early successes into self-reinforcing systems. Most startups have less than a year of runway. Understanding the power law of growth enables you not only to survive, but to win.
3. There are no “silver bullets” in growth.
Someone else’s proven tactic won’t be yours. Instead, growth strategy and execution need to map to your specific business model, team competencies, and market.
4. Leaner execution means faster growth.
Teams looking to establish systematic, scaled acquisition before running out of cash must adopt rapid iteration, experimentation and validation through minimum viable tests.
5. The most talented teams learn by doing.
We could do the work for you, but then you wouldn’t own your growth. You won’t learn growth from agencies, and you won’t learn it from blog posts or bootcamps. Instead, world class teams learn and improve by working side-by-side with experienced mentors, building skills via guided practice.
Expanding Our Impact
We ran the 500 Startups Distro Dojo six successful times before we realized that our fundraising criterion was limiting the impact we could have across the broader European startup ecosystem. Growth is ever evolving, and yet across six Dojos, 35+ companies, and tens of millions in net new revenue, we believe we’ve cracked the code to unlocking scaled growth for early stage startups.
We now deliver growth coaching via faster more affordable online training. We also occasionally take on bespoke consulting for participants who have completed coaching and are looking for more specialized input or channel-specific acceleration.
Our mission is to enable every startup not only to grow, but to 10X. We know it’s not only possible but repeatable. And, we’ve seen that it’s not only repeatable but teachable.