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Virtually from Madrid, Joe Haslam shared his contagious entrepreneurial spirit and Scale up advise with the Founders’ Circle on Friday 22nd Jan. One of his key insights what your business model is more important than your product. A SAAS product in X does not describe your business or get investor/customer interested. Sell the vision first to get them hooked. This was the first top tips of MANY.

As you may already know, Joe is a veteran in many walks of business life with years of experience behind him. Joe explained that you have to be like a chameleon. ‘’If a person expects you to have done something or know something, just say you have’’.

Joe Haslam at the RDI Hub Founders Circle Startups vs Scale ups

Scaling and growth

‘’If there is one thing you take from this talk, be it that scaling is exponential’.  In business, it is pivotal to firstly experiment and then to stop.

It could take you 4 years find market fit, then double down on that. And just that.

This phenomenon may entirely go against human nature and the urge we get to explore several different options. However, Haslam firmly believes one should double down on what works and ‘’forget about everything else’’. If the customer wants jam donuts in a yellow box with half cream, half chocolate,  then, that is exactly what you give them. Representatively, Founders’ Circle on Friday consisted of founders seeking insight on how to Scale and Joe provided just that. “It brings exceptional outcomes. Let the market determine both your offering and when to scale. This should not be until they are knocking down your door’’.

Joe Haslam at the RDI Hub Founders Circle

Getting educated is vital when trying to achieve scale

Straight talking Joe highlighted the importance of talking with other founders on your journey as a lot can be learned from others. Never forget to be honest. If things aren’t going good, admit it. Highlighting your insecurities is very important when it comes to growth and Scale.

Business model is more important than the product

When looking to Scale up, you want to be in a position where, if you went out of business, the customer would react. This way, you get a solid, loyal customer base that will pay top dollar for your offering. ‘’Direction is much more important than speed’’. Preached Joe. You can’t force a good Start up, one must give it time to flourish and grow. A rare, not so dark analogy from Joe was to think of your Start-up as a flower. If it grows quickly, it dies quickly. A darker analogy he shared with us was to think of it ‘’like a fish, if you forceit to grow it will get a disease and die’’. Coming from an expert on the laws of nature, he has a pretty solid point! Haslam explained that it is important to know firstly your industry, find the best people and understand experiments to validate your assumption. All essential elements in achieving market fit which takes ‘’up to about four years’’. Worry not, Joe shared with us the average age of those who founded the highest growth Start ups and it is 45! In Joes opinion, Ireland has many advantages for Start ups when it comes to location. We also no longer have any indigenous tech companies on the NASDAQ here in Ireland. We should really be doing better than we are.


Executive director of the Owners Management Program at IE Business School in Madrid and co-founder of Hot Hotels illustrated the compelling topic, triggers. He demonstrated to the Founders’ Circle that while the majority of us have both the ability and motivation to strive for excellence when it comes to a Start-up, we need something to happen in our lives otherwise known as a ‘trigger’ to push us. It is the thing that gets us to achieve what we want. The use of a personal coach will help enhance triggers, another aspect strongly advised by Joe himself. They will help establish both strengths and weaknesses and direct you to those who can help you reach scale point.


Culture involves taking time in the beginning to find the right people to have on board your establishment. ‘’Your company will be the function of the first ten people you hire’’, wise words from the great Haslam. The secret to attracting great people is by setting great challenges. So great that it is completely acceptable to fail providing they set out on an alternative challenge to win success. ‘’Imperfection is extremely attractive and always, make your disadvantage your advantage’’ Joe sights inspirationally.

Following the mesmerising speech by Joe Haslam, breakout rooms were generated to assist FoundersCircle attendees. Thus, a great opportunity for several founders to talk and ask questions, sharing their problems and hearing from other founders, many of which were from very similar companies and in similar situations. Following what Joe firmly believes, speaking to others, a key element to Scale up. The fifteen minute breakout sessions acted as a brainstorming exercise which certainly sparked questions among attendees which they then proposed to Joe Haslam. Questions included those on the time it takes to get to get to product market fit and “how do you really know when it is the right time to take on exponential growth?’’ (Scale).

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