Every new business wants to succeed and grow, but software startup growth can bring new and sometimes unexpected challenges. Saleem S. Khatri, Chief Executive Officer of Lavu Inc., shares insights and advice on meeting those challenges head-on and building a successful organization.
What was the biggest challenge you encountered as a startup?
Khatri: Maintaining the fast pace of a startup is always demanding, but with each stage of growth comes additional hurdles. Early on, your task is to find a product-market fit before running out of money. Once you make it past that stage, you’re going to encounter challenges revolving around growth and scaling, and that’s where Lavu is now. The challenges associated with scaling a startup deal primarily with going to market fast(er), overseeing people, and handling organizational issues. A mentor of mine once told me that, as with any manager, “50 percent of your job is HR related,” and this has proven to be true. Half of my job will always be managing the needs of my team. If you can serve your team, your customers, and your shareholders, you’re going to find success.
Which areas of your business were most affected by fast growth?
Khatri: When a company like Lavu, growing as fast as we are, is in full-on scale mode, every challenge impacts the entire organization. HR issues in one department affect the ability of other departments to produce results. In order to drive more sales, you need more support staff, and better product that addresses customer pain points, and more efficient marketing to increase conversions. So serving the needs of the team must be a holistic effort that truly serves the whole team. Think of it as a symphony orchestra, where each part must be in sync in order to achieve harmony.
Were the challenges that Lavu faced unique?
Khatri: I came into my role at Lavu with previous startup and managerial experience, so I knew what to anticipate. The challenges we’ve seen at Lavu are challenges that every startup sees at some point. I’ve been lucky to have extensive mentorship as well as support from Aldrich Capital Partners, Lavu’s private equity partner/sponsor.
What do software startups need to overcome challenges associated with growth?
Khatri: Success at startups requires a “Founder’s Mentality,” meaning grit, perseverance, and a can-do attitude. Problems need to be solved quickly, with creative solutions and constant iteration. To persevere, you must continue testing and refining, and realize that the process never ends. This mentality needs to be instilled in the organization as a whole, not just in leadership. We’ve done that here at Lavu.
What has adopting the Founder’s Mentality meant to Lavu?
Khatri: Lavu has been incredibly successful. Thanks to the dedication of our team, business is growing at an escalating rate, and while scaling to that incredible gain, we’ve still been able to launch a new product, LavuPay, which is taking off like a rocket ship. We have several initiatives in the making that will further accelerate growth, and there’s just no limit to what we can do.
What advice would you give a software startup ready to take their business to the next level?
Khatri: I can’t overemphasize the need for grit and perseverance as a founder. You’re heading for a roller coaster ride, and you’ll need to be able to manage your emotions and work through whatever comes your way. Just make sure you’re taking one step forward every day, and keep your head up.