According to Šimon, CEO and co-founder of Pixel Fedearation, in order to build a scale-up there must be a set of circumstances and the founders having an appropriate entrepreneurial mindset. Either you need to do something you love and monetize it at the same time or you solve a problem.
Šimon is convinced that a strong vision builds endurance. In Pixel Federation, they found something they love and were willing to sacrifice a lot of things. Back in 2007 when Pixel Federation was founded, the term startup wasn’t popular just yet, but the founders were fully aware that they had to be making a profit from the start. They failed five times before they found the right model for their business.
According to Šimon, an approach on how to do the business may differ. In comparison, with Facebook which is viewed as an unicorn, Pixel is a cockroach that would survive even a nuclear blast.
Pixel Federation follows Kaizen when it comes to company culture. He says that it is important to be able to quickly adapt to the current situation depending on the size of the company; whether there are 10 or 200 employees in the company. Vision and strategy are most crucial for company culture. It is always important to identify what and why we are doing and this must be clearly communicated to the employees. If they are not compatible with this then there is a problem. It is better to have a failing product than a company culture that isn’t followed.
“There are several departments in Pixel and we are proud that we are one team and we all work together. We have a saying in our company: “players to players“, which means we try to make the product as if we were making it for ourselves,” Šimon says.
Their aim is to maintain the spirit of Pixel Federation which has been present from the beginning. It is a challenge with a growing number of employees, but top consultants hired by Pixel are managing this issue. However, a growing number of employees might have caused a decrease in productivity even though there is no hard data which could prove this.
Šimon Šicko, CEO and co-founder of Pixel Federation (SVK only)
On the one hand Pixel has not experienced any problems with capital, also thanks to the investments they received, but on the other they view a lack of skilled people as a problem recently. They hired the best people at the beginning but as the company grows the problem is becoming more significant. They are dealing with this problem by inviting international mentors who help them with the processes that they are not able to set up in-house.
According to Šimon, there must be three fulfilled criteria in order for a company to reach a scale-up phase or to be able to get financing: 1. Beta-version of their product 2. Marketing strategy and identified customers 3. Understanding KPIs.
Šimon highly appreciates cooperation with the Vienna University of Applied Sciences where they work closely with professors and students. He didn’t have a good experience in Slovakia, and he says that there must be a generational change at Slovak universities to allow better cooperation with the business sector.
A program supporting scale-ups should include a venture capital fund that would be able inject large amounts of money into scale-ups. Šimon also recommends a government program for inviting international mentors to help fast-growing companies set up processes and structure.
This article is brought to you in cooperation with SAPIE.
To read the previous post about Profesia.sk scale-up, click here. To read the next article about the best practices from the scale-up report, click here.