Inside F6: How a group of founders decode scaling startups with mindfulness
- F-6 is a group of six individuals with diverse backgrounds who have devoted their lives to entrepreneurship.
- Their mission: Create “a cheat code” that will enable entrepreneurs build long-term sustainable business models while boosting mental agility.
A lot of entrepreneurs reading this will agree when I say, the journey from ‘start-up’ to ‘scale-up’ is mostly characterized by ambiguity, mistakes and endless frustration. There are plenty of reports and studies that help de-mystify scale for startups, but very little that underscores the importance of prioritizing your mental growth while scaling your business.
As entrepreneurs, problem-solving is woven into the very fabric of our daily lives. As critical as this skill is, over time it can lead to what is popularly called ‘founder burnout.’
It is a proven fact that running a start-up is akin to a marathon and not a 100-meter sprint. While I doubt that the fast-moving dynamics of being involved in a start-up will ever change, taking the time to supercharge your mental agility by constantly learning will go a long way.
Reduxing the Mind
Over time, during my interactions with fellow entrepreneurs, I realized many of us faced similar challenges when scaling up – managing the board, investors, and difficult leaders, building a hybrid sales pipeline, building successful marketing organization, nurturing personal equations and the much-cliched work/life balance…
The more I listened, the more I relaxed and surprisingly, the more I learnt.
It is no secret that an entrepreneur’s life is exciting and yet always on the edge. Interactions with fellow entrepreneurs, helped me realize that there was a lot we could all do to support each other in achieving scale both from mind and business perspective.
This is how F-6 came together in May 2016. A group of six, individuals with diverse backgrounds who have devoted their lives to entrepreneurship. Our mission: Create “a cheat code” that will enable entrepreneurs build long-term sustainable business models while boosting mental agility.
The F-6 – Up, Close and Personal
From the get-go, it was apparent that we had to find a middle ground to connect with each other. We were all of the different age groups (31 -52), businesses models (global SMB, enterprise, healthcare, deep tech & analytics) and disparate cultural backgrounds. The first step was to open up about our personal and professional lives.
“Because let’s face it – our professional and personal lives have never been more integrated than it is today.”
Year 1 – Building Trust
In the first year, the focus was to get to know each other and to establish trust by allocating a couple of hours every quarter. We spent 50 percent of our time discussing issues that mattered and the rest on key business issues – from scaling sales to structuring marketing and such.
The agenda from our first meetings looked something like this:
Total time: 3.5 hours
- 30 mins: Discuss vision/charter
- Working towards USD 1 BN market cap in the next 5 years
- 10 mins: Presentation on each business
- 10 mins: Break
- 60 mins: Business lifeline
- Each of us spoke about our business history, key challenges/successes/failures/disappointments et al
- 10 mins: Break
- 30 mins: Current business challenges
- 10 mins: Way forward –
- Who do we want to meet and what do we want to get out of these meetings/structure of business updates/feedback/conclusion
Year 2 – Integrating Families
Multiple retreats were organised in year two, to build on the foundation of trust we established in year 1. Our families were part of the entire process and spent the day with us.
The retreats were not just to discuss critical business issues but also to share stories of our lives. We talked about tales from school, about friendships lost, the darker side of success, our health and much more. Though unconventional, this approach helped us develop a deeper understanding of each other and our businesses. It enriched our thinking with different perspectives and honed problem-resolution skills.
Year 3 – Get, Set, Scale
In our third year of association, we decided to dedicate more time to critical business issues, innovation and scaling to the next level – preparing for IPOs, higher valuation, managing senior executives and of course switching off.
We graduated from day-long retreats to corporate style weekend offsites with our families. The perfect example of work/life balance!
“Our mission to decode scale and establish a strong support system has more or less come true, with each member committing time and effort to the cause. Personally, this is the group I rely on for a true and an unbiased perspective.”
For a lot of budding entrepreneurs out there, it could just be a group that meets over a couple of drinks, power yoga or maybe a round of golf.
The #SaaSboomi enterprise 2019 is one such attempt from us to give back to the Indian entrepreneur community. With this event, we hope to provide a platform for budding entrepreneurs to connect, exchange notes and get valuable inputs that they can apply to their own business models in their quest to scale.
While the event is focussed on decoding all things hyper-scale, hopefully, it will also help you connect with like-minded individuals who can be your growth hacking support system.
Manav Garg, the CEO and Founder of Eka Software Solutions, is leading F-6