Top 10 tips for scaling up your business

Dr Asif Qasim, an Interventional Cardiologist and founder of MedShr, gave a talk at Health Foundry about how MedShr grew to 500,000 users in 180 countries. He shared his top 10 insights for scale.

1.  You get your first 1000 users through hard graft and face-to-face meetings

  • Even in tech, that first push forwards comes through face-face meetings that persuade people to be your advocates.
  • Every conversation is a marketing opportunity and through practice, you should start to adopt a different pitch for different audiences.
  • Email marketing can be important, but bear in mind the stats: you might get a 3% click rate if you’re lucky, which isn’t very effective.
  • Talk to your customers/users, ask questions, listen lots and use workshops.
  • There is no substitute for hard work at this early stage.

2.  1000-10,000 users and beyond is about marketing and using your advocates

  • The number 1 route to market for MedShr is effective social media marketing.
  • This means highly targeted performance marketing with tried, tested and iterated words and image assets.
  • MedShr has 3% influencers, 39% advocates and 58% enthusiasts.
  • Listening to and looking after these superusers is key to growth at this stage.

3.  Channel partners are good for credibility and growth

  • As an early stage company, you must show that you can do deals, not just talk about how you’ll build a business.
  • Every partner, should, at the least, give you credibility.
  • It’s rare to terminate a partnership, so look and see what’s the lowest level of partnership that brings some value to the business and think about how you can use each one of those deals.
  • When you have enough partners in a sector, there comes a point where companies are worried that they aren’t working with you!

4.  Corporate sponsors add credibility and capital

  • To get corporate sponsorship deals, there is a risk in going to straight to the CEO. Often the act of work being passed down means that there will be antibodies to it, so get intros from trusted people if you can.
  • It can be helpful having anyone at the company advocating for you, so engage on multiple fronts.
  • Get something from every meeting - an intro to someone else, or even asking for repeat meeting to update them on your progress.
  • Know what parts of your pitch unlock doors - numbers and traction is key. You have almost no time to convince people but know the trigger points. Pitch to people and ask for feedback.

5.  If you’re trying to do deals with hospitals…

  • Figure out - is it operational, medical or HR - they are the 3 biggest pots of money in a trust and will dictate where you should be focussing your effort to meet the right decision makers and budget holders.
  • Private hospitals tend to pilot and roll out so you can get economies of scale with effort put in here.

6.  Don’t overhype your market opportunity

  • Asif is often asked to look at companies for PE and VC firms and he always looks to see if startups have quantified their market opportunity properly.
  • If you are going for investment, make sure the market size is big enough for your small % to still be interesting, but don’t make it up, be realistic and properly assess what is addressable.
  • MedShr is after a very small % of their market, which is credible.

7.  You should be asking investors as many questions as they are asking you. You want investors that can add value. Focus on asking them:

  • How many of your investments are in my sector?
  • What were the ticket sizes?
  • What have you specifically done to help them?

8.  Think about how you set up your company

  • Asif doubts that MedShr would have got near the same backing, investment etc. if it were a social venture.
  • The strength of the business ultimately comes down to ‘what’s the benefit and who’s gonna pay for it?’

9.  Think about how you can get multiple layers of revenue

  • At MedShr, industry can sponsor sections, they have paid advertising areas, private networks, physician engagement programmes, specific education programmes and more.
  • They are also applying AI on their data around what doctors think of cases and what they look at, which are valuable insights to other customers.

10.  PR makes you feel good…

  • … but it won’t really affect activity or sales.
  • The value of PR is that it gives you more credentialing to use as collateral for things like investment.