Stevan Popovic'

3 Lessons From Turing Festival

August 22nd, 2015

Today, I attended day two (Billion Dollar Scale-Ups) 0f the Turing Festival in Edinburgh. For a reasonably small startup conference Codebase (thanks for organising guys) managed to attract some really excellent speakers. Rather than making a detailed summary of all presentations, I thought I’d share just one lesson from some of the speakers that particularly stuck with me. (I write to think, not to hit word count, so excuse the lack of detail.)

 

“Go with what you know” – Morten Primdahl, CTO of Zendesk

When growing out their team and realising they needed more tech talent, Zendesk chose to go back to Denmark to extend and grow their engineering capacity. Why? Because they knew the Danish landscape, they had a strong brand there and a huge network to leverage. Simply put, go with what you know. A reminder to not over complicate your strategy but to take steps which come naturally and utilise the assets the company already has.

In addition, for things you don’t know, ask the best person you know who does. This reminded me of Brian Chesky‘s technique of “going to the source“.

 

“Run upstairs” – Ed Molyneux, CEO of Freeagent

A motto he admits he learned from Paul Graham of YC. As nimble, flexible startups you have the opportunity to take on difficult problems and tackle complex product roadmaps. You should do so as large, inflexible incumbents don’t have the same ability to do this. So, whilst its hard for you, its even harder for them.

(Later, he also recommended the book The Innovators Dilemma, which is linked to this idea.)

 

“Be productively paranoid” – Damian Kimmelman, CEO of Duedil

As a CEO, you should always be looking into the future and thinking about what could kill your company. This gives you the insight and ability to make the necessary changes ahead of time and course correct.

(Another great insight Damian shared with me was to take on important roles yourself before hiring a someone senior to fill that position. The best way to hire good people is to know exactly what you’re looking for first. The best way to know what the role takes is to do it yourself.)

 

There were a bunch of other great insights shared but these were the three that stuck with me. Thanks to Codebase for organising. A huge thanks to the speakers for being generous with their time and answering my many questions between sessions.