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This was incredible. Knowledge that could otherwise take years to accumulate through trial and error.”

 

The last 6 months have been a whirlwind of Upscale events, learnings, friendships and more. Our pilot programme for 30 of the most exciting UK tech companies has come to a close and I’d like to take this time to reflect on what we’ve learned.

Upscale has been an incredibly rewarding experience, thanks to the community of engaged companies, who supported each other and helped us develop an authentic and honest environment where we could tackle the most difficult questions that scaling companies face.

WHAT HAPPENED OVER THE LAST 6 MONTHS?

We originally created a network for founders – comprising of 12 sessions – with world-leading entrepreneurs such as Niklas Zennstrom (Skype) and Brad Feld (Techstars).

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However, while interviewing companies for the programme and again with companies accepted, we received the following feedback from founders:

“As founders it is quite easy for us to seek out other founders and swap notes / solutions / etc. But it is much harder for our teams to do so even though they are often the people that need to solve these common questions. Therefore my ideal output from Upscale is that my Head of Infrastructure gets a group of peers he can speak to, my Product Owners have people they can pick up the phone to, etc.”

This was such a pertinent need for Series A companies, that we ended up expanding our programme to include Heads of Marketing, Operations, Finance, Data, Technology, Product & Sales and more. As a result we had more than 200 people (7 individuals per company) participate in Upscale.

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In the end, we ran 48 targeted events and webinars covering leadership, endurance, OKRs, team culture, hiring senior management, managing your board and more.

We trialed many formats from small roundtables, to bigger lectures, to panel discussions and fireside chats and had a number of social events too from coffee tasting to drinks receptions.

Through everything that we did, we tried to make decisions through the Upscale values:

  1. Be real
  2. Entrepreneur led
  3. Consistently raise the bar

Our overall programme was ranked at an average of 9/10 by the companies and 9/10 by Scale Coaches.

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THOUGHTS FROM OUR SCALE COACHES

“Making such an impression and helping them was such a great feeling. Really glad I have put myself under ludicrous pressure for the next session now.” 

“The coaching session I took part in was very successful and enjoyable – in particular the calibre of people & discussions involved (I am still in regular contact with 2 founders), so would be keen to keep some involvement with Upscale’s legacy.

“Well done for such a great initiative btw. The tech industry needs more of those really targeted and well thought out programmes.”

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THOUGHTS FROM OUR COMPANIES

“Upscale has proved once again that it is truly about people, and you’ve brought together an exceptional group of people which I’m certain will continue to grow together, support each other and be of help to any entrepreneur in the growing Tech City community. Awesome programme, so many connections made and inspiring talks by a great range of speakers.”

“I’m giving Upscale 9/10 because everyone in the group has similar challenges and the events are really worth my time. I find myself wanting to come again and thinking “when’s the next one?” Additionally, everything is really well organised! I love the little reminders about what’s happening in the upcoming week and the reminders the day before.”

This was incredible, knowledge that could otherwise take years to accumulate through trial and error.”

“Can Upscale last forever…?”

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WHAT WILL WE DO BETTER NEXT TIME?

Because of the programme expansion, there were times where Barbara and I were running four events a week, which doesn’t warrant a scalable programme! Despite this, we received feedback from many of our functional groups (marketing, sales) that they would have liked even more events! For that reason we’ll be developing Upscale V2 with a much more scalable structure.

Additionally, we will be assessing options for more video recording and webinars to maximize the reach of Upscale content. For now, you can read some of our Scale Coaches’ blogs here:

Inspire Your Employees to Walk Through Walls for You – from Scale Coach, Ali Schultz

“Agents of Purpose” Scaling Operations – from Scale Coach, David Norris

Scaling PR in a Digital Business – from Scale Coach, Doug Monro

Scaling Digital Businesses & Tech Ecosystems – Scale Coach, Saul Klein – Q&A

Scaling a UK Business Internationally – from Scale Coach, Anthony Fletcher

Scaling the Hiring Process – from Scale Coach, Suranga Chandratillake

 

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THANK YOU’S AND GOODBYES

After a year and a half at Tech City UK and six amazing months working flat out on the programme, I’ll be moving on from the organisation and stepping into an advisory role for the next iteration of Upscale.

If you’d like to apply to be Upscale Programme Lead – or know someone you think would be suitable – check out the job description.

This programme would not have been possible without our Scale Coaches, Advisors and partners who came together to give their time, expertise and resource in delivering a phenomenal experience for companies. THANK YOU!

Upscale has been designed to be about a cycle of sharing, and we are looking forward to opening applications for V2 at the end of the year and for companies from Upscale v1 to come back as Scale Coaches.

I personally feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to build this programme and to work with an incredible team including my right hand Barbara Peric, marketing genius Ryan Procter, events extraordinaire Davina Yanful and super designer Diego Rivas. Additionally, I’d like to thank so many on the team who have given their energy and time to shape something truly special! 🙂


Zheela Karolina Qaiser – @zheeq

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