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From Start-Up To Stand-Out: What Distinguishes High-Growth Potential

Mary Grace Scully
Mary Grace Scully
Published: Mar. 04, 2020

Rebecca Kaden, a managing partner at Union Square Ventures, is one of the sharpest minds in venture capital. She’s earned the industry’s respect because of her knack for identifying winning start-ups and founders.

She joined Simulmedia Live to talk about what she looks for in start-ups and the factors that are more likely to be associated with those that succeed. Watch the interview to hear how she views the current state of venture capital and investment opportunities, which types of companies catch her eye, which trends in marketing have the most significant impact on growth, and more.

Plus, Rebecca participated in a rapid-fire of live audience questions, giving candid, tangible advice to start-up brands and national marketers seeking next steps to scale their businesses.

After each episode of Simulmedia Live, we put our heads together to identify the moments that grabbed our attention and taught us something substantial. If you watched the whole conversation with Rebecca Kaden, a managing partner at Union Square Ventures, you’d understand why it was hard to pick only five. Especially because this episode had the most engaging “speed round” of live audience Q&A in our show’s history.

Let’s get down to it.

1. Take a fast, experimental approach to growth.

One of Rebecca’s favorite companies splits their cost per customer acquisition (CAC) budget between steady and experimental. This gives the brand permission to experiment on new channels without fearing it will drive up their overall CAC.

2. There is no such thing as a short-cut to trust.

Rebecca says as your brand grows and learns about itself, your customers will give you leeway for the speedbumps you may encounter. But Union Square Ventures (USV) has identified there is one detrimental mistake that diminishes brand trust: violating your core promise and initial commitment to customers.

3. “Loud customer love” is one of the earliest signs of high growth potential.

If you’re just starting out, there is nothing more valuable than molding devoted brand fans. These “evangelists” can grow your brand more than shallow, top-of-funnel interest. But first, you need to identify your core customer and establish your core promise.

4. Know your funnel as early as possible.

A big chunk of time spent in early-stage company building should be devoted to isolating variables. If CAC doubles or splits in half, can you confidently attribute to a specific channel or pinpoint a lever? Rebecca has noticed the brands that can read their funnel sooner are more equipped to take on the “late-stage” but powerful channels like TV early because they are able to process its analytics.

5. A product can be the primary engine of its own growth.

Early-stage founders are forced to balance between investing in the core product itself and investing in marketing channels. Brands with viral hooks in their products catch her eye because these products are built on inviting individuals into their platform and inevitably growing their network from the inside out. A perfect example of this is Zoom.