LFP071 – Going Beyond Startup & Scaleup – A Growth Master Class with Faisal Husain CEO Synechron

Many Fintechs have successfully gone from Startup to Scaleup. But none have gone to true Growth company yet. Today we are joined for a Master Class by a man with a phenomenal growth story to tell. Faisal Husain has taken Synechron from an idea to 7,000 people in 18 countries worldwide and generates over $400m of revenue. Not only that but in sixteen years and astonishingly without and external capital or debt :-O

In this episode I get to quiz Faisal, Synechron’s CEO and co-founder, on all our behalfs, and the Fintech community worldwide’s about some of his secrets of success.

How do you go beyond being a scaleup? What are the pitfalls? What are the methods? What are the key success factors? How do you “grow up” without “growing old”?

All this and more are discussed on the show. Topics include:

– playing the guitar; Black Sabbath’s final tour

– Faisal’s experience as a client of a gap in the consultancy market between sales presentation and actual execution and how this led to the product design and vision for Synechron

– startup-scaleup-growth is a useful model but it isn’t as black and white as it sounds

– “we feel we can never stop thinking like a startup” “our spirit has to be a startup” – eg and esp agility, quick decision making, short chains of communication

– cf “growing up without growing old”

– pitfall “becoming corporate” – where one spends all one’s time in internal meetings

– going from knowing everyone in the company and recruiting everyone oneself to having to delegate that to other people. Leadership becomes very critical at that point.

– Synechron aim to have a strong, family culture. Strong culture of townhalls to reinforce this.

– when travelling Faisal focuses on client meetings and evenings with staff to ensure real contact with the real business (as opposed to falling back on processing reports on reports type CEO-ing).

– bureaucratisation as a real risk to a growth company. “Anti-bureaucratisation” measures.

– Faisal has no office or support team but travels constantly to be in the field with clients and staff – “feeling the pulse of the organisation first hand”

– internal reports as “abstractions of the real that misrepresent” cf the look in people’s eyes when discussing a topic face to face

– many Fintechs of less than 100 staff have already succumbed to “organogramitis” and bureaucracy

– the rarity of a CEO who has the skills for the differing requirements of the phases of startup, scaleup and growth company

– “we want to be a multi-billion company, we are still in our infancy” – the importance of not resting on laurels and thinking one has made it

– staying modest

– “many times startups fail to scale as the founders are too emotional about their role”

– Synechron are still growing at 25% yoy which is top of the charts in their industry

– organic growth (2/3 of growth) and acquisition (acquired about 6 companies in the last 3yrs); over time 75% of Synechron’s scale comes from organic growth and 25% acquisition

-simple strategy (“no secret sauce”) with incredible execution (“the magic is in the execution”)

– track 4 to 5 key metrics to manage, known to all in the company; very transparent within the company about financials; “that’s how I feel I can align everybody to those goals” – “If I keep those secret how do I align to the people?”

– challenge of recruiting talent when fast growth – esp as to scale you may need to lower the bar from what you originally had but to compensate for that you have to have a very strong training program that is able to bridge that gap

– making acquisitions work – not killing the spirit of what you buy

– “screening” based on both financials but also cultural fit

– having a thorough dating process is the best start for a good marriage 🙂

– not overly aggressive re integration timescales – 12-18mts until it really starts post acquisition

– always make sure they have places for the founders at the Synechron Group level – both for practical but also message reasons in terms of what acquired staff read into that

– Synechron’s businesses:

  1. Digital
    • user experience, design, interactivity
    • emerging technology capabilities – blockchain, AI/ML
  2. Business Consulting services
    • Reg Compliance, RIsk, Finance
    • large scale change management
  3. Technology services – the largest slice of their business
    • systems integration through to end of life systems
    • implement, maintain, run
    • custom build

– Synechron work with ~70% of the top western banks in the world

– project sizes range from the smallest around $200k to $250m multi-year engagements

– the importance of getting growth right to Fintech

And much much more!

Share and enjoy 🙂