Posted on 4th September, 2017

by Simon Calver
Partner at BGF Ventures


Existing talent


At the point of scale up, investors will be looking for certain characteristics within an existing team. Having a strong team in place reassures an investor that the business can cope with the changes that lie ahead as the business grows.




For early stage companies, success isn’t always a straight line. At times the business may accelerate forward but at other times it may take a few steps back. An investor will be looking for resilience within a team to provide reassurance that individuals have the real experience and capabilities to ride through the inevitable bumps in the scale up road.


Experience and credibility


The leaders of the business may have been through a scale up before. They will have learnt from it and through it may have discovered things they might do differently. Or, it could be that they’ve been on the journey a couple of times already with both success and, potentially, failure.


An investor will be looking for a team with a breadth of skills and thinking, A team that is identical in its thinking will find it more of a challenge to succeed.




A team needs to have passion and drive for what needs to be done. A understanding of the task in hand and the ability to achieve it.


What does talent look like?


The search for talent varies from one organisation to another. At LoveFilm we were looking for people who had spent some time in a large corporation. These people knew what ‘good’ looked like. They understood that it was ‘good’ to have performance reviews, it was ‘good’ to set objectives. They had been through the basic 101 of leadership and management learning and knew the ropes.


But, it was important that these individuals had also tried something different. There’s an inverse correlation between the success of a person in an early stage business and the length of time they’d spent in a large corporate being shown how to do things all the time.


People who have tried something different, plus demonstrated the ability and desire to be a little entrepreneurial, or even a little intrapreneurial -  challenging an organisation’s thinking, seemed to offer the best fit.


The search for talent


When looking for talent early on, you need to spend the right amount of time getting the right people. In the early days as CEO at LoveFilm I’d spend 1/3 of my time in recruitment. It is important to give it sufficient focus to get it right. You need to be clear on what success looks like and the type of talent you’re trying to attract.


The most important thing you can do as CEO or Founder of a business is get the right talent around you to successfully scale the business.  There’s an old adage; if you can’t get to where you want with what you’ve got, you’ve got to change it. If you can’t get to where you want to with the talent around you, you’ve got to change that talent.



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