Building a quality team is the most important step to accelerating a startup, Doug Burris said.
But hiring the right talent is often where founders make their biggest — and most expensive — mistakes, added Burris, president of Growth Acceleration Services.
“We have seen firsthand the struggles founders manage as they attempt to push the accelerator on the revenue engine,” Burris said. “One of the biggest challenges, and where (founders) can make some of their most costly missteps, is attracting and landing the correct talent for their environment and culture. Building the team that is going to take the company to the next level is key.”
That enduring challenge is why Burris and Growth Acceleration Services CEO Dan O’Reilly launched their new firm with the mission to help the area entrepreneur community with the team-building process. Fittingly, the two realized the value of talent-focused services and the concept of Growth Acceleration Services while they worked together at a startup.
“Dan first brought this idea to me when we worked together at Netchemia,” Burris said, referring to the Shawnee ed-tech startup that was acquired in 2015 by Austin-based PeopleAdmin. “The concept was still fresh and needed much more work before it could become a reality. We both stayed in contact as we branched out on our own. Dan began his consulting business where he focused on working with companies to help them scale, while I continued mine. Since our targets were similar, we found ourselves working together more and more.”
Through their more than 50 years of combined startup and enterprise experience, the two recognized a large gap between the talent available and the needs of Kansas City, particularly in the marketing and business development roles, O’Reilly said. But in addition to lacking talent, area startups also often lack team members with tools to be effective, he added.
The company has worked with such Kansas City area startups as DivvyHQ, RFP365, Stackify and others, helping to educate clients in sales, lead generation, messaging testing, appointment setting and more. When the student graduates, they are certified with not only the knowledge of sales, but also with results to affirm their skills.
Growth Acceleration Services’ one-on-one approach not only differentiates its practice from other consultancies but is also imperative to devising an effective approach, O’Reilly said.
“The education component to our business is very unique,” he said. “I do not believe you will find another sales and marketing consultancy that supports the growth of a business with this type of service. Our model for training is not about a stale classroom full of books where the student walks out with the knowledge but not the experience. We mix classroom study with live calls to prospects of our clients.”
During these sessions, the pair not only teach clients on what to do but also why it is important, O’Reilly said. That affords clients with confidence to apply what they’ve learned in the field, he added.
“We do not engage with clients looking for just general best practices or high-level strategy,” O’Reilly said. “We understand that businesses need more than words to succeed. They need help applying that knowledge in the real world for their specific situation. … This is our passion, not our job. We take every engagement personally and work as if the company’s goals are our personal goals.”