Paradox of Scaling (NPC2019)

Is there a real success mantra in “Scaling” of products (or services from early stage)?
What is the “Paradox” in scaling and what do the product companies need to do  about it?

At NASSCOM Product Conclave 2019, Banglore (November 5, 2019), Prof Mohanbir Sawhney ( , the renowned management consultant, academic and author addressed these questions. A very long first day at NPC 2019 was wrapped up by Prof Mohan’s note which was exceptionally great and applauded by a packed crowd.

Prof Mohan stated that, there IS a paradox in scaling. Whatever companies o at their early stage of evolution (and become successful in that to emerge in the eco system), become a barrier at the next stage for scaling up. The product companies should continuously track, validate and revalidate their growth phases and early-stage tactics and strategies need to be re-looked and reversed. He comprehensively detailed the five shifts in scaling up a startup

  1. Customer acquisition can be opportunistic at the beginning but at the right time, become strategic in nature. Its okay to shoot at every potential target and learn what is right or wrong.  While in  the learning curve, ensure to discover the right market segments where the “to be” value proposition resides. But, “to scale”, narrow the market segments and create a “focus”. Increase revenue by tapping the narrowed segment deep and full.
  2. Product offerings can be in the form of services or projects but do productize them at the right time. Early on, learn from experience with different clients and projects. Also, service based approach eliminates the possibility of creating “wrong product” early. To scale up,  productize, create platforms and move to annualized revenues
  3. Manage People centric operations at the beginning but switch to Process oriented operation at the right time. The passionate founding member team is “enough” to run the operations at early stage .But, to scale up exponentially, establish and institutionalize strategic processes for every nook of the product and cover the early stage learning with them.
  4. Create Channels by the owners themselves (for genuine and specific reason) and cerate Partnership for scaling up. At early stage, build the capability by the owners directly on all dimensions and don’t look out for vendor or partners who doesn’t have a clue on your “potentially great” ideas. But, to scale up drastically, create partnerships in all fronts while the owners can focus on core product features, functionality and drive the innovation.
  5. Market through relationships of the owners themselves at early stage . Customers do believe in passionate people even though the track record is limited. But, to scale up significantly, create brands as a proxy to substitute relationships to address wider market. For exponential growth, invest in building and promoting brands as a packaging of value proposition

Prof Mohan explained in detail on the checks every prospective product company should do to identify the most critical phase of their journey which is “between early stage” and “decelerating phase”.

The mind blowing session was marked with several real world use cases including Reliance Jio where Dr Mohan driven the product strategy. The enthusiastic and young entrepreneur community were visibly thrilled to attend the session by Prof Mohan. PS : The ideas of this note is originally of Prof Mohanbir Sawhney and he owns the copyright of the same. The author has taken notes from the session and articulated the ideas in his own way.

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