There is no correct way to build out your C-Level team; what works for one company won’t necessarily work for yours. Structural best practice however, goes a long way to ensuring a company has the best opportunity for success.
Much specialist knowledge can only be tapped into through experience, meaning first-time founders are significantly less likely to have access to this crucial information. One way to get clued up is by gathering information from experts who are well-versed in the business growth journey.
That's why we approached our NXLab advisors and asked them:
“Why do start-ups need access to wider C-Level support?”
Scott Williams, Chief Product Officer at KUGU
Because start-ups are difficult. There’s a broad culture in start-ups which kind of says “If you’re at the top of the tree, if you’re a CTO or CPO you have all the answers”, right?
That's broadly the culture and nothing could be further from the truth. From the start-up perspective, it’s about how you approach problems; how you think about problems; how you solve those problems; how you grow and keep culture going; how you define culture, how you change it If you scale. There is no fixed way of being able to do that. And there's an element where right-place-right-time drives a lot of the success.
There’s a lot of post rationalisation where you just did some stuff and it worked way better than you actually realised it would. I think having people call you out on that, asking you, “did that just happen because right place, right time. Or was your plan good?”
It’s also a good ego check, because people tend to write about start-ups like they're a World Cup game, right? Invariably it's pretty boring news, but we talk about it in a kind of slightly exciting way.
Trying to keep grounded and having constant feedback and people challenging you is really how you grow and become successful. That’s really valuable for me.
Alexandra Denisova, Head of Product at GotPhoto
I don't really think there is one answer to this question because there are no borders to product expertise. It doesn't just end at a Jira ticket, or a wire frame, or persona, or a demo.
This product thinking, it permeates every area of your business. Building your product expertise is hard and getting good at building products and making them successful is really hard.
As I mentioned before, there is no single sustainable, repeatable recipe for success, but there are multiple recipes for failure, right? In my opinion, an expert is a person who has had some successes and many failures.
He or she understands, on the gut level, how and when to pull the right levers in the given conditions, with the given variables in order to avoid failures and create as much affordance for success as possible.
I really don't believe that a framework or a course or a book can teach you this. It's earned with the experience. As a rule of thumb, Product Leaders do have it.
Turning to an expert for advice in product building is just a way to save you money, time frustrations on the way.
Ewa Gräuler, Chief Product Officer at DS Destination Solutions
I truly believed that exactly this first fit - experience getting feedback from users, building the first MVP and having the right to say, “Okay, this is a product we could start to sell already” - is the right approach before we start spending a lot of money on scale acquisition and marketing.
That's why I think that's essential for growth, because you will grow of course organically or a little with the marketing budget at the beginning, but the scale grow should start after the market feed. That's why this needs to be a common exchange with the CTO and CPO.
Otherwise there will be a lot of mistakes at the beginning.
NXLab is our virtual board of C-Level professionals who are eager to support ambitious tech businesses on their growth journey. Our experts cover a wide range of industries and disciplines. Find out more about NXLab.