Life after Startup – The intern threshold

Me at the Superconnectors event in Amsterdam

Copy… paste.. copy… paste …copy… paste.. done!

I quickly post the list of attendees in the WhatsApp group with the Superconnectors dinner attendees in Amsterdam and close my laptop.

Now it’s off to pick up my son at daycare and later after putting him to bed I can prepare the profiles of the startups and print them out.

Then I need to check if everything is ready for tomorrow with the catering company, quickly pay an invoice for the previous event and follow up on the attendance of a couple of dinner guests.

Basically, I do a lot of work an intern could have done.

But when do you reach that moment in a startup that you should start delegating to an intern? Or in other words, when do we surpass the intern threshold?

10 versus 1000$/hour work

When me and my ex co-founder had just started our agency Funk-e I remember we came across a very American article describing the mindset needed to grow your company.

One of the things that stuck to me from this article was the phrase:

“if you want to grow your business you have to find a way to focus on 1.000$/hour work and away from the 10$/hour work”

At first this phrase struck me as kind of obvious. Yes, of course it is better to focus on work that makes more money than work that makes less.. duh..

However in the beginning I remember I was so focused on doing everything as cheaply as possible. Meaning we would do a lot of small insignificant tasks ourselves.

This phrase forced me to start making a shift between all the activities I was doing and really ask myself: what are the things that I spend time on that have a disproportionate amount of value?

Quickly it became obvious that sales was the thing where I would bring the most value to the company.

So we took a risk and hired an intern at a time where we barely had enough money to pay rent. We immediately outsourced some project management work, contact with all our freelancers and administration.

So from spending 1 day per week doing sales, I switched to 4 days per week, which doubled our sales, and allowed us to start hiring more people.

When is it the right time to start outsourcing?

Like I said before, in the beginning it was tempting to keep doing everything ourselves.

And yes it can add extra pressure to have additional expenses early on.

However, what could it mean for your company if you can really only focus on something you are disproportionately good at. What if instead of closing 1 huge client per month you can suddenly close 3?

Now that with superconnectors we are organizing more and more events, I can see a pattern of all the little activities that need to happen for each event.

There is a clear routine of:

⁃ Reaching out to potential superconnectors and startups

⁃ Giving them all the information and confidence that our event is worth their time

⁃ Reaching out to potential event partners

⁃ Scheduling a date for the event as a placeholder in Google calendar

⁃ Contacting a venue

⁃ Negotiate a price with a local catering company

⁃ Create an Eventbrite link for ticket payments

⁃ Send reminders

⁃ Etc.

If there is a clear routine to make a product happen from start to finish this means it can be delegated.

My goal now for instance is to shift my focus away from all the nitty gritty of organizing the events, to focusing on finding the right partners that can help us make this event a success next year.

The first few iterations of the event have made it clear what I need and now I can create an overview of the activities I need from an intern.

We are hiring

So even though we are technically not making money yet, we are taking our first bit of risk, to really accelerate and give ourselves the chance to focus on whatever brings the most value: we are hiring an intern!

If you know anyone that might be interested in helping us organize events throughout the Netherlands and across borders with some of the most well connected people and exciting startups, let me know.

The official internship will be posted by next week 😉

Don’t linger on the intern threshold

I have to admit, it is fun to do everything myself again.

The simpler tasks have an oddly satisfying nature. At the end of the day I can tick off a bunch of stuff from my to-do list, compared to my previous life as CEO of Funk-e, where most bullet points were very abstract problems or challenges.

However even though it’s fun to do work that is the living and breathing essence of the product I sell, 1 person doesn’t scale.

And without bigger scale, the event will never reach its full potential.

So if you feel, you have reached the intern threshold, don’t linger. Look for ways that you can switch from 10$/hour work to your 1000$/hour work.

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