Have you ever heard anyone say that over 80–95% of startups fail and wondered why? Well, it turns out building a startup is incredibly difficult. It takes an array of people and skills, and an assortment of external factors to all come together at the right time and the right place and for magic to happen.
We never quite liked those odds. Yes, every startup is different, and there will never be a cookie-cutter answer, but surely if you study what goes into the many startups that are successful, a pattern will emerge?
Well, we also think so — and we built a business around that belief. We believe that it’s possible to identify what it is that makes an idea or a founding team more likely to succeed. It’s more of an art than a science, but once you can pick the ones that are most likely to win, and you can build a team around ensuring you have all the right skills to get that idea off the ground and scale it into a real high-growth venture.
And that’s exactly what we do. We’re basically a collective some of the best people in Product, Design, and Development, as well as people who know how to launch and scale businesses. We’re people who are all super passionate about building startups and like to get our hands dirty building the next innovative solution.
Our mission is to accelerate the development of tech ecosystems and help founders bring their ideas to life.
We’ve always had the belief that many of the world’s problems can be solved through technology and entrepreneurship, and we are going to do everything in our power to make technology more accessible and inclusive to people all over the world. As we do that, we’re also going to roll up our sleeves and help entrepreneurs in whatever way we can, so they stand a better chance of bringing their solutions to life.
Our whole culture is shaped around our mission, which we feel is a pretty cool one to get behind. If you can teach people how to build businesses while solving some of the world’s biggest problems, think of the impact you can actually have.
The other reason why our mission is exciting is that you would get to work with some of the smartest most passionate people out there — and the work is both challenging and rewarding. Tech founders and companies are also pretty cool to work with, have you seen the google campus? Many of the tech companies have influenced our culture, and we very much view ourselves as a high-growth startup (With all the perks that come with funding).
“Specno oozes Culture” — a great thing to hear from the leadership team at our biggest competitor. He’s right though — to us, culture is what makes a great company, so we put a damn lot of effort into our culture and scaling it as we grow. In the next section, you’ll read a bit more about our corporate values, and how they shape our culture and contribute towards our vision.
Many people mistake culture for office banter or nice perks, but those things are just by-products of the culture. Your culture should be the values you embody, and the values you choose should be the things that you don’t compromise on. They are the things that are going to make or break your company, and will determine whether you achieve your mission or not.
1. Foster a culture of continuous learning and growth.
We’re more than doubling each year, so being part of a hyper-growth company forces you to continuously adapt and evolve to the new challenges around you. Every six months Specno feels like an entirely new business, with a new set of requirements to upskill in — combine that fact with the need to stay at the forefront of our industry and you are left with a company forced to grow and innovate, or stagnate and die.
Since we’d much rather grow, you’re forced into a position of continuous learning. Lucky for us, we see that as a wonderful position to be in. What it does mean though is that our people spend a fair amount of their time learning. Sometimes that is new tech stacks, new processes, new skills, new strategies, new markets, and a new set of challenges to overcome.
Within Specno a lot of effort has been placed on facilitating that learning. Whether that means building mentorship time into the week, or buying you a course or a book (everyone gets audible), or putting you on a project where you’ll have to learn on the fly. We’ve always said that we’ll give our people the opportunity to fail, but the context and support needed to succeed… which ties in perfectly with our next value!
2. Be courageous in the pursuit of excellence.
So if the last paragraph didn’t make it clear enough, we have a pretty high-risk tolerance and are definitely not afraid of failure. Some of the biggest learnings actually come from the difficult clients or the challenging projects, and if we’re not making mistakes then we’re clearly not doing enough to be innovative.
Jim Collins once said “good is the enemy of great”. If our vision is to grow into the world’s leading innovation agency and be a company big enough to catalyze the development of startup ecosystems all over the world, then we can’t accept mediocracy.
That means we’ve had to build a high-performance culture. It certainly takes courage to step into an environment where you know you are going to be challenged, where the standards are high, where career development happens faster than normal, and where you are competing with other people just like you — driven, talented, and high performing.
The good news is that Specno operates on transparency and is a results-orientated culture. That means that everyone is seeing the goals, gaining insights into strategies and growth plans, and is pretty clued up on what is going on at the company. That means that if you want to break the status quo and climb the ranks faster than the norm then suddenly you have an abundance of resources at your disposal.
Those people you were competing against become your best resources. When everyone is aligned to the growth of the team and not the individual it is surprising how much more people will invest in upskilling one another. Sometimes that can mean having difficult conversations, pointing out people's strengths and weaknesses, and focusing on being specific about the feedback in a way that leaves the recipient understanding how to improve… which takes courage.
3. Lead as if you owned it.
Our third and final value is to lead as if you owned it. Do you know what happens when everyone gets to see the goals and growth prospects of the company? You get to own what success looks like. You get to see the outcome of your contribution and how it is impacting the success of the team and the company.
That means no micro-management, but also no putting the blame on others. Career progression doesn’t mean you need to become a manager, but that shouldn’t stop you from becoming a leader. A leader to us is somebody who takes our values and lives by example. That means that it shouldn’t matter the seniority of the person — we are all responsible for ensuring our teams are meeting their goals, living our values, and building towards our vision.
Every opportunity is a chance to lead and gain new skills or improve upon existing ones. Specno will present you with endless resources and opportunities but it is up to you to take ownership of your career and your goals.
For some, that means the 40 hours a week they give is enough to consistently deliver excellence, and we reward that. For others, 40 hours a week is not enough, and you should have the choice to take your professional development into your own hands. Being at a high-growth company means you can grab opportunities ahead of time and spend evenings and weekends developing at a rate faster than your peers. At Specno, doing so will also result in your remuneration growing faster than your peers.
And for many, the thought of working in a high-paced environment won’t be appealing, but we’re after the people that are hungry to grow, and we reward them heavily for it. Many of our people will use Specno as a place to learn what it takes to run a business, build networks, gain capital, and then step out and develop their ideas. To us, there is no greater success and we hope we’ll be able to play an instrumental role by investing in our people to become the next generation of founders.
The future is yours, own it.
Please send this on to a friend if you think they’d be a fit. We have tons of positions to fill!
Also see why every project needs a product owner, what a week for an agile development team looks like and how to always get the right price with beneficial low code development cost. And see how we helped bolster engagement and conversions on SA's No 1 digital job management system, ServCraft.