Think big, start small, then scale or fail fast.
- Mats Lederhausen, founder-CEO of investment platform BE-CAUSE LLC
Seven years ago I launched INK PPT with a big dream to redefine how presentations are made. I started small as a one-man army. But, I didn’t want to fail. So, I decided to scale. Today, I work with a team of 15+ people in-house with an extended team of 50+ designers and have delivered 2000+ projects across 700+ customers, including 50+ Fortune 500 customers. To give you a better perspective, we have delivered 10 lakh+ slides.
People often ask me how I managed to scale so far. Well, here are some factors that worked for me.
1. Process Engineering
We have reworked and revisited how the presentations and creative design process work. Let me give you an example of the events industry which is highly time-sensitive. Typically when we do creative designing and layouting, we rely on watermarked stock images initially. Once the client approves them, we rework those creatives to use the actual high-resolution ones. This results in two additional steps for us. With some maths at hand, we started working directly with the purchased images. If the client approves them, the deck is ready instantly and if they reject it, we absorb that cost since that cost is still lesser than reworking the entire presentation where sometimes, the time at hand between final approval and actual usage of the presentation is a couple of hours.
2. Global Delivery Team
We serve clients across the globe. So, it only made good sense to build a team of project managers in different countries. This team gives us the flexibility to work in different time zones for continuous service delivery and to reduce turn-around time. If we have to make a presentation overnight for any Indian customer, we can get it done at a higher price by a person in a different geographical location and still deliver it within the stipulated time frame.
3. Extended Pool of Talent
Apart from the core internal team, we also have an exceptional talent pool of freelance designers and copywriters. These freelancers are available on-demand and help us meet critical project requirements. This way, we are also able to optimize resource utilization and tap into new business opportunities immediately.
We are also in the process of building an ASAP team - we like to call them ‘fire fighters’! This team will enable us to deal with urgent and unexpected projects. You see, we don’t believe in losing a client.
I recall an incident here. I was at an airport, waiting to board a midnight flight when I received an unanticipated request from a client to deliver a presentation by the next day morning before 8 am. Not the one to refuse the project despite the oddity of hours, I quickly aligned the resources from the freelance team who worked through the night and delivered the presentation in time!
4. Manufacturing-Oriented Setup
Did you know that even if one slide goes wrong in a 600-slide deck, it can adversely affect the client’s brand image as well as ours?
That’s why we follow a production line approach though we are in a service industry and primarily a people-driven business. We give painstaking attention to task allocation and have a meticulous procedural control and mechanism for it. For example, if a team member is working on animation, he will do only that. A person responsible for the layout of the presentation will do only that. A creative director will only check for consistency in the presentation.
5. Strict Quality Control
Quality often gets compromised when scaling your business. We didn’t want this to happen to us.
So, we developed a standardized, 8-layer control checklist for every presentation. The project managers evaluate every presentation on this checklist before the final delivery and ensure that the team has abided by all the rules. We upload every document on cloud drives and have a stringent file naming and organization process. We train every team member on quality parameters after onboarding them.
6. COVID-19 Pandemic – Opportunity in Disguise
You may find it difficult to believe but we went virtual within 16 hours of the announcement of the COVID-19 lockdown! This became possible because we already had remote monitoring, VPN and required tools and software in place. We even defined SOP for virtual working within two days. We organized the entire team strength into segregated teams with well-defined challenges and targets. We were quick to adapt to the business changes and witnessed significant growth during the pandemic.
Scaling your startup is difficult but not impossible. You just need to prepare for all the hoops you will need to jump through.