Introduce your business and tell us your story: What got you started?
Scalapay was born out of necessity. Johnny and I founded Scalapay in 2019 after launching a number of startups and seeing how constrained existing Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) products were. The company . It meant the merchants were missing out on loads of sales. Not only that, the customers had inconvenient checkout experiences. We wanted to change that!
We drew up an initial version of the idea which was a truly unique and compelling BNPL product. Next, we had to think about the market we wanted to enter. We knew the product worked really well in lifestyle. With such a broad category we really wanted to focus on a core niche and absolutely own that space. One where we could really stand out with an incredible product and make a measurable impact. This led us to Luxury Fashion. Clearly the best market for a premium product.
After landing on the market, we had to decide on a location. There was an incredible opportunity in Southern Europe as it was seriously underserviced in that region. So with Luxury Fashion in mind, we decided to hone in on “the heart of fashion” in Milan and set up our second office there. The transition was easy for me given I spoke fluent Italian and was born there!
With our focus on the right market, the challenge was to scale fast! That’s why we made a real point of hiring a world-class leadership team. They come with deep experience in tech, retail, and fashion. On top of that, we needed people who have experience in startups and hypergrowth to help us achieve our audacious goals!
Unsurprisingly this led to the insane growth we hoped to achieve. The next challenge for us was maintaining this alignment as we scaled!
What made you decide to explore OKR?
We managed to drive alignment and focus across the business quite easily in the early stages. It was a lot of testing and learning. We could quickly set goals and move fast to achieve them.
As we grew the team, it became harder and harder to maintain the alignment, focus on outcomes and speed. This is why we turned to OKR. We needed to maintain the speed and agility of a small start-up, but grow our ability for large-scale execution.
Although there are plenty of ways to do it, we wanted a common language that allows teams to work together. Most importantly, it needed to be lightweight. We couldn’t have the desire to set and align the right goals getting in the way of real progress. People get way too caught up on perfection and permission. This is a real issue with traditional goal setting and KPIs. OKR really just made sense!
What was your experience like with our OKR Quickstart?
We reached out to SKILLFIRE as an afterthought! After trying out OKRs on our own for a few cycles, we realised that getting help would really enable us to get a lot more out of it. We just found that without help we just weren’t living and breathing them. We had too many goals which were hard to measure and the teams weren’t really involved.
As we approached our next quarterly planning, we realised we needed to drive that focus and get alignment by including the teams. I knew this would be a massive change piece, but wasn’t sure we could do it well. We were already juggling enough priorities.
This is where we reached out to SKILLFIRE. They were already overbooked, but after putting on a bit of charm, Tim was a pushover and we got started. The experience was insane. Within a couple of weeks of starting the OKR Quickstart, everybody had meaningful OKRs. I’m not just talking about teams having set their OKRs. I’m talking about living and breathing them! They were adapting their roadmaps and work plans for it, checking in weekly and working together on the most pressing issues for the business.
Without SKILLFIRE there’s no way we could have introduced OKR as quickly and painlessly as we did. They’ve been a key part of our scaling journey!
What advice would you give to executives looking to embed OKR?
For me there’s three key ideas that are really worth focusing on:
Change journey and champions - Make sure you have everyone engaged on the journey. This means creating clarity on how you’re applying OKR at your business and why you’re introducing it. You can’t do this on your own, so make sure each team has a champion to lead and embed the framework.
Set great company OKRs - as an executive team, you need to write great OKRs. Clear purpose with strong leading indicators as metrics. Keep it focused to one or two. It’s your job as a leader to prioritise well and focus attention with the right measures.
Review weekly - Check-in on progress weekly and do a confidence score on how likely you are to achieve each Key Result. Even if your OKR isn’t great, the check-in will help you identify issues and get them right. It also allows you to course correct where traction is not being made!
CEO of Scalapay
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