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The Builder's Guide is THE handbook startup builders need.

Get the knowledge you need to scale your startup and build a unicorn company. In one book.

Why?

Our mission is to support tech entrepreneurs and their teams as they make the transition from a startup with product-market fit to a unicorn company.

The potential to create many more European unicorns providing millions of jobs is huge! While more late-stage venture capital is essential, building scale-ups calls for specific skills and knowledge.

This is where the Builder’s Guide comes in.

IN EUROPE WE HAVE CREATED...

0 %
of all
VC-backed
startups​

...BUT ONLY

0 %
of all unicorns

Here’s what you will learn from the Builder’s Guide

DIRECTION

Learn how to craft an attractive "North Star" for your future unicorn, consisting of a purpose, business ambition, value proposition and the right metrics.

FUNCTIONAL EXCELLENCE

Learn how to build high-performing scale-up functions using state-of-the-art OKRs, organizational structures and practices.

PEOPLE & MINDSET

Learn how to attract, develop and retain an A+++ crew as well as to cultivate the mindset required from a scale-up, combining the agility of a startup with spaceship capabilities.

GROWTH CAPITAL

Learn how to acquire enough growth capital by understanding investors' decision criteria and how to negotiate growth term sheets.

What's inside the Builder's Guide?

    The 6 Elements of Direction: Finding your North Star


    Practices we discuss include:

    • Purpose beyond profit

      Why does your company make the planet a better place?

    • Company values

      What are your guiding principles for aligning your team?

    • Business ambition

      What business outcomes do you aspire to in the long run?

    • North Star metric

      What is the ONE metric that really matters?

    • Company value proposition

      What unmet customer needs do you solve uniquely well?

    • OKRs

      How can you make your direction operational for your teams?

The 6 Elements of Direction: Finding your North Star


Practices we discuss include:

  • Purpose beyond profit

    Why does your company make the planet a better place?

  • Company values

    What are your guiding principles for aligning your team?

  • Business ambition

    What business outcomes do you aspire to in the long run?

  • North Star metric

    What is the ONE metric that really matters?

  • Company value proposition

    What unmet customer needs do you solve uniquely well?

  • OKRs

    How can you make your direction operational for your teams?

ESG: Environmental, social and governance as a driver of business success

(with Johannes Lenhard and Hannah Leach)

 

Practices we discuss include:

 

  • Are you setting up an environmentally sustainable enterprise?

  • Are you living up to high diversity, equality and inclusion practices?

  • Are you investing in governance standards?

People (HR) Excellence: Attracting, developing and retaining the best crew

 

Practices we discuss include:

  • OKRs

    Do you have the right people OKRs in mind?

  • Organizational charts, roles & responsibilities

    Does your people function have all the roles and responsibilities in place?
    Are you scaling the right people roles at the right time?

  • Recruiting & candidate experience

    Are you recruiting the best possible scale-up technology and product talent?
    Have you built up an internal executive recruiting agency?
    Are you attracting the right talent with a shining employer brand?

  • Organizational development

    Is your job leveling, promotion and compensation fair and transparent?
    Are you deploying the best training and coaching programs possible?
    Are you measuring employee attrition and engagement in the right way?
    Have you put the right people support tools and operations in place?

Scale-up Mindset: Cross-functional principles which make the difference

 

Practices we discuss include:

  • Growth hacking mindset

    Have you established cross-functional growth hacking teams for activation, retention and monetization?

  • Customer centricity mindset

    Is every team member obsessed with the customer experience?

  • Autonomy mindset

    Are you empowering your teams enough to make decisions rapidly & independently?

  • Learn-it-all mindset

    Are you prioritizing learn-it-all over know-it-all?

Product Management Excellence: Launching products that create value for customers
(with Johnny Quach and Sven Grajetzki)

 

Practices we discuss include:

  • OKRs

    Do you have the right product OKRs in mind?

  • Organizational charts, roles & responsibilities

    Does your product function have all key roles and responsibilities in place?

  • Product vision and direction

    Are you developing a clear product vision and deriving your roadmap from it?
    Is your product organization focused on outcomes, not just designing a "feature factory"?
    Are you investing in your core product while pushing adjacent opportunities and venture bets?

  • Product development process

    Are you creating a crystal-clear picture of your target customers?
    Is your product value proposition aligned with the underserved needs of your customers?
    Is your roadmap a crystal-clear communication tool developed with the right prioritization logic?

  • Product management basics

    Are you getting the brand and product design right early on?
    Are you building a thriving user research engine quickly?
    Do you have best-in-class product management tools in place?

Technology Excellence: Creating scalable and secure tech platforms for future growth

(with Christopher Richter)

 

Practices we discuss include:

  • OKRs

    Do you have the right technology OKRs in mind?

  • Organizational charts, roles & responsibilities

    Does your technology function have all key roles and responsibilities in place?

  • Your way of agile

    Are you creating your own version of agile development?

  • Development operations

    Are you establishing lean software development principles?
    Are you establishing technical DevOps practices for continuous delivery?
    Are you enabling a team of doers through the right DevOps culture?

  • Scalable architecture

    Are you creating a “good enough” software architecture that can evolve over time?
    Are you building resilient and scalable cloud architectures?

  • Information security

    Are you keeping the top 10 web application security risks on your radar and mitigating them?
    Are you integrating the key information security practices into design, development and deployment early on?

  • Data management

    Are you establishing a scalable data architecture?

B2C Marketing Excellence: Scaling up with minimal expense and maximum customer retention

(with Kelly Ford)


Practices we discuss include:

  • OKRs

    Do you have the right marketing OKRs in mind?

  • Organizational charts, roles & responsibilities

    Does your marketing function have all key roles and responsibilities in place?

  • Marketing basics

    Are you establishing a single source of truth for your key marketing and growth KPIs?
    Are you bridging the gap between marketing quants and creative brains?
    Are you equipping your teams with the right marketing and growth tools?
    Are you finding your product-channel fit quickly and maintaining it?

  • Organic and viral marketing

    Are you leveraging the power of organic conversions to drive down customer acquisition costs?
    Are you getting your PR machine up and running at full speed?

  • Paid online marketing

    Are you harnessing the six key hacks for buying online ads efficiently?

  • Offline marketing

    Are you leveraging the power of offline marketing in the digital age?

  • Monetization

    Are you nailling your monetization strategy to drive revenue?

B2B Sales Excellence: Creating brand advocates & pipelines full of sales opportunities


Practices we discuss include:

  • OKRs

    Do you have the right sales OKRs in mind?

  • Organizational charts, roles & responsibilities

    Does your sales function have all key roles and responsibilities in place?

  • Sales playing field

    Are you exploiting the right niches?

  • Sales basics

    Are you creating a commission plan that fits your growth stage?
    Are you enabling your sales teams with the right sales tech stack?
    Are you attracting and hiring a world-class sales team?
    Are you training and coaching a “challenger” sales team?
    Are you getting your basic sales pitch in place?

  • Qualifying and closing leads

    Are you rigorous with your lead qualification criteria and process?
    Are you enabling your sales teams to close leads?

  • Retaining and "farming" customers

    Are you measuring customer health to predict and prevent customer churn?

Service Operations Excellence: Resolving customer inquiries while delivering the wow factor
(with Dr. Niko Glusac)


Practices we discuss include:

  • OKRs

    Do you have the service operations OKRs in mind?

  • Organizational charts, roles & responisbilities

    Does your service operations function have all key roles and responsibilities in place?

  • Prevent contracts

    Are you ensuring "best service is no service"?

  • Deflect contracts

    Are you deflecting unnecessary transactional contacts to automated self-help enough?

  • Resolve contracts

    Do you have the right service specialist available at all times?
    Are you resolving customer inquiries with autonomous teams and close-knit performance management?
    Are you investing in Lean Six Sigma processes while giving teams enough room to create moments of service delight?
    Are you investing sufficiently in a loosely coupled, yet highly integrated suite of service tools?
    Are you making your external partners boost your business goals?
    Are you boosting back-office throughput with performance management, automation and centers of excellence?
    Are you investing enough in resilience to recover from demand and supply shocks quickly?

Supply Chain Excellence: Shipping customer happiness consistently
(with Matthias Wilrich)


Practices we discuss include:

  • OKRs

    Do you have the right supply chain OKRs in mind?

  • Organizational charts, roles & responsibilities

    Does your supply chain function have all key roles and responsibilities in place?

  • Supply chain practices

    Are you recovering from demand and supply shocks quickly enough?
    Are you hiring supply chain specialists early enough?
    Are you boosting your order economics with performance-based contract clauses and price benchmarking?
    Are you getting your order economic analytics to a best-in-class level?
    Are you becoming proficient in supply chain operational excellence?

Finding Growth Capital: The 6 questions every growth stage investor asks

(with Vanessa Pinter)

 

Practices we discuss include:

  • Fund fit

    Does your company fit the investor’s fund in terms of industry, size and funding needs?

  • Timing

    Why now?

  • Market potential

    Is your serviceable available market worth more than USD 1 billion?

  • Category leadership

    Have you created a defensible solution which is 10x better than any other in that market?

  • Business model

    Does your company’s performance to date show a path toward becoming profitable in the long term?

  • Team

    Have you assembled a great executive team that can scale?

Negotiating Growth Term Sheets: 15 terms sheet issues to keep on the radar

(with Vanessa Pinter)

 

Practices we discuss include:

  • Negotiation guidelines

    Are you following the major guidelines for term sheet negotiations?

  • Key term sheet issues

    Do you have the 15 most important term sheet issues to be negotiated during a growth round on the radar?

Please find the full table of content here.
Meet our chapter co-authors

Together with the leading unicorn builders we are consolidating the knowledge to create more tech scale-ups.

Founder & Managng Partner, i-potentials GmbH

CPO, Hostelworld Group

Angel Investor, Command Comma; former CMO N26

VP Vehicles & Supply Chain, Tier Mobility

Growth Investor, Digital+ Partners

Sven Grajetzki

CPTO & Founder, JOKR

Director of Global Recruiting and Employer Brand, N26

Global Head of Talent Acquisition, OLX Group

Partner, Bain & Company

COO, Humanitec GmbH

Managing Director, hubsell

Partner, Houghton Street Ventures

We are supported by unicorn company builders

KELLY FORD

Angel Investor, Command Comma; former CMO N26

ROBERT KILIAN

Founder & Co-CEO, Beams; former General Counsel N26  

MATT DIXON

Chief Product & Research Officer, Tethr

DR. GERO DECKER

Co-Founder & CEO, Signavio

MAXIMILIAN TAYENTHAL

Co-founder, N26

JOACHIM SCHREINER

GM and Executive Vice President, Salesforce Germany

Constanze Buchheim

Founder & Managing Partner, i-potentials GmbH

Manjuri Sinha

Global Head of Talent Acquisition, OLX Group

Christian Poensgen

Founder & Director, European Center for Digital Competiviness

Frauke von Polier

Chief People Officer Viessmann; former COO People, SAP

Eva Glanzer

CPO, GetYourGuide; former Head of HR, DaWanda GmbH

Nate Kupp

Engineering, Elementl; former Dircetor of Infrastructure & Data Science, Thumbtack

Gavin Bell

Engineering Manager, AWS Al Platforms; former Senior Technical Manager, SoundCloud

Chris Bell

Director of Global Recruiting and Employer Brand, N26

Scott Raymond

VP Engineering, Statespace; former Engineering lead, Airbnb; Founder, Gowalla

Andriy Lysyuk

Head of Cyber Security, Ciklum

Bogdan Shestakov

Global Solution Leader for Custom Solutions, Ciklum

Marc Pohl

CEO, Junique

LÉA MIGGIANO

CMO, Carvolution

NEIL BERRIE

CEO, TwentyFirst CenturyBrand

JAN ENGELHARDT

MD, 123makler.de

RAMZI RAFIH

Director, KKR

MARCUS REX

CSO, Hypoport SE

JOHANNIS HATT

CEO, Productsup

Johnny Quach

CPO, Hostelworld Group

Gilles BianRosa

CPO, SoundCloud

Dr. Daniel Holle

Former Builder and Founder, tvype

Audrys Kažukauskas

CTO, HomeToGo

Jan Kennedy

Value Add advisor, Vitruvian Partners

Mark Roberge

Managing Director, Stage 2 Capital; Former Chief Revenue Officer, Hubspot

Nils Wolfram

Domain Owner Customer Ordering, METRO.digital

Mahdi Shariff

VP of Digital Transformation, Ciklum

Daniel Stammler

Co-CEO and Co-Founder, Kolibri Games

Oliver Löffler

CTO and Co-Founder, Kolibri Games

Jan Bartels

SVP Customer Fulfillment, Zalando SE

Stephanie Kaiser

Founder and Managing Director, Heartbeat Labs GmbH

Joshua Levy

CEO, Holloway; former Director, Engineering Cuil

Felix Würtenberger

Director Product, Klarna

Sven Grajetzki

CPO, TechHub; Former CPO, Delivery Hero

Chad Jennings

VP Product & Design, Amboss

Dr. Wolf Richter

Partner & Leader Cyber Security Europe, McKinsey & Company

Chris Bell

Director of Global Recruiting and Employer Brand, N26

Jacco van der Kooij

Founder, Winning By Design

Edward Hartman

Co-Foudner, LegalZoom; Partner Simon & Kucher

Matthias Wilrich

VP Vehicles & Supply Chain, Tier Mobility

Lars Rysell

Former Director Fulfilment Europe, Wayfair

Eusden Shing

Former Head of Search Products, Pinterest

Christian Hertlein

Former Head of Design N26; Director of Design & Brand, REE Technology

Stephan Schulze

CTO, Project A Ventures

Tamer El-Hawari

CPO, Project A Ventures

Ramon Abalo Costa

Managing Director, Asia-Pacific at APG

Florian Heinemann

Founding Partner, Project A Ventures

Peter Niederhauser

Founder and Partner, Redalpine Ventures

Nikola Glusac

Partner, Bain & Company

Patrick Alberts

Chief Product Officer, XING

Dr. Michael Kuss

Partner, springer | kuss

Are you a (former) tech scale-up executive or expert and want to contribute to the Builder's Guide? Please contact us. We are looking especially for experts in product management, technology, marketing, operation or people/HR in scale-ups.

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Meet our team

We are a team of startup aficionados seeking to help entrepreneurs and their teams turn their tech companies into unicorns. We are writing the handbook we wish we could have read before embarking on our own scale-up adventures.

Lead Analyst

Lead Analyst

Lead Analyst & Designer

Lead Analyst

Academic Advisor

Lead Analyst

Lead Analyst

Lead Designer

Lead Analyst

Translator

Translator

Translator

Lead Analyst

Lead Analyst

Lead Analyst & Designer

Lead Analyst

Academic Advisor

Lead Analyst

Lead Analyst

Lead Designer

Individuals, tech startups and VCs are all very welcome to support us

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Contact us

Do you have any ideas or suggestions or are interested in contributing to our project? We’d love to hear from you.