Winning the Scale-Up Game: From Early-Stage Bets to Market Value

Daniel Friedman, Chief Revenue Officer, Imaginatik


The Back-End Innovation Game.


“I am going to focus on HOW,” says Daniel. “It all starts with asking the right questions.”


This stuff is hard. It’s messy. It all starts with questions, such as:


  • What type of business are you in?
  • What is your company’s strategy?
  • How might you create an innovation strategy to support it?
  • Where is value being created and destroyed in your ecosystem?
  • What problem are you going to solve?
  • How many people here firmly believe that you and your organizations are asking the RIGHT questions as it relates to innovation?


The right question is key. Translating the answering into winning aspiration for strategy will make all of the difference. This is how you win.


The question is “what is your strategy and how can an innovation effort support it?”


Our Changing World


Three forces shape the world in new ways:

  1. The law of accelerating returns (new technologies)
  2. Blurred lines (new business models)
  3. Transference (new consumer expectations)


Change always creates new winners and losers.

82% topple rate, companies declining.

8.2% embrace new business models and grow.

Companies that successfully embed innovation have a 3x return on a five-year CAGR.


This news kicks off a litany of questions: The question of strategy becomes paramount. What kind of company can you become? What value do we want to realize? What customers do we want to engage? What categories do we want to enter or disrupt? What capabilities do we need to move in these directions.


Too many times businesses are often optimized for a world that no longer exists. They run faster and faster to a reality that doesn’t exist.


What barriers do you have between strategies, technology, and operations?


Your only alternative is to change the game. This change begins with an articulation of strategy.


Begin a program. Commit to change, then build and cultivate.


How do we take an outside view? Then, how can we map ecosystems? What’s next? What do we do about it? Who are our future customers?


Then, how can corporations engage startups? Begin with your strategy, then scout, and then prototype together.


Develop a Bespoke Scale-Up App. “This is the game changer, to help clients execute on ideas.” Using this roadmap as a way to go from idea to concept to fruition.


How do you wrestle though the details and ask the right questions?


This is an evolving process: Set up workshops, then workstreams, then create a playbook.


Ask hard questions about which models are better and how we win. What is the new 20% that will bring in 80% of our new revenue?


Yes, and ask more questions:

  • What are our business requirements and is our portfolio aligned?
  • Are we sufficiently focusing on a longer-term basis?
  • What is the optimal balance for our innovation projects?
  • How do we govern process and set priorities?
  • How do we launch?


Create pathways that get everyone on the team on the same page. Seek alignment and understand. Let people know what to expect, what is due, by when and by whom.


You must ask what type of company we are first, then everything else can follow.



Michael Graber is the managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic growth firm based in Memphis, TN, and the author of Going Electric. Visit to learn more.