Women Leaders Who’ve Scaled Startups Share Lessons They’ve Learned Along the Way

by Alton Zenon III
December 11, 2019

Silvija Martincevic, chief commercial officer at Affirm, said teams at fast-growing companies often run into situations in which the staff headcount outgrows the operational processes they need to succeed. 

“To help stay ahead of this, it’s vital to ensure there are clear and simple goals that can be tracked regularly and operational processes to support broad communication,” Martincevic added.

For Alichia Sawitoski, VP of marketing at Arrive, one of the biggest challenges she faced while growing her team was scaling the parking platform’s solutions in a way that aligned with consistent user and revenue growth.

These are just two of the (many) potential challenges leaders can face as their companies near an inflection point.

We asked Martincevic and Sawitoski for their best practices in overcoming the challenges that come with scaling. Some themes? Aligning employees around a common goal, and researching users to help determine next business steps. 

 

1. Let the User Be Your Guide

Alichia Sawitoski
VP of marketing

Alichia Sawitoski said she joined Arrive (formerly ParkWhiz) in 2016 to unify the platform’s user acquisition and retention efforts as the company grew larger. This task required research,  reevaluation of goals, and time — all devoted to the user. Ultimately, she said this process led to an environment where scaling made sense.

 

“We started with tackling single-source reporting via first waves of attribution and audience research,” Sawitoski said. “From there, we were able to evaluate our best customers and build programs to scale our solutions in a way that aligned with consistent user and revenue growth. Each year, we refined our key performance indicators to drive improved quantity and quality of users.”

We were able to scale in a way that aligned with consistent user growth.”

 

“Parking is not a one-size-fits-all category,” she added.“Things that our users want in a parking experience — like pricing and distance — and the nuances of a geographic market can have a major impact on what and how we message to both potential and repeat customers. 

Determining the best mix of tactics and messaging to scale revenue requires iterative testing and optimization against each customer segment. Finding optimizations that scale can take time but staying patient, focused and committed to those goals has long-term payoffs.”

 

2. Define a Shared Vision

Silvija Martincevic
chief commercial officer

Silvija Martincevic joined Affirm as the company scaled its workforce following a $300 million Series F raise in April 2019. The chief commercial officer said that in her first few months, she needed to get the growing teams rallied behind the goals of the company. Aligning Affirm’s workforce required defining key objectives, then providing transparency into how those objectives were being met. 

 

“In order to motivate the team and the company overall, it was vital to define a shared vision of what success looks like,” Martincevic said. “I learned that it’s important to not only set clear goals, but also communicate them clearly and track progress in a programmatic way. That was the catalyst for success for us.”

Set clear goals, communicate them clearly and track progress.”

 

“While scaling, there are many people starting every week in all functions and seniority levels,” she said. “One challenge is that people sometimes outpace operational processes. To help stay ahead of this, it’s vital to ensure there are clear and simple goals that can be tracked regularly and operational processes to support broad communication. When both goals and processes are well-communicated and adhered to, it allows for high levels of accountability, which ultimately drives pace and fills any gaps that could open while scaling.”

 

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