Tips for Growing Startups

Discover proven strategies fast-growing tech startups use to scale. Learn the challenges facing growing startups and how to sustain rapid growth.

Man waving at a computer while on a video conference call
Man waving at a computer while on a video conference call

Growing startups can be a challenging but rewarding process. Many of the brands we know well today came from humble roots as a small startup somewhere in the world. Any entrepreneurs wanting their startup to be the next big launch should read our guide below. We’ll go over important factors to consider and highlight some growth strategies learned from one of our notable Prosperity Accelerator participants.

What are the most important factors for growing startups?

Entrepreneurs and teams focused on growing startups have a lot on their plate. It can be challenging to determine what will move the needle for your business. Here are some factors entrepreneurs should pay attention to as they’re growing their young company: 

  • Timing – Some experts believe timing is just as important as funding or the novelty of your idea. They call it launching a startup because, in theory, it’s very similar to a space launch. Refusing to wait for the right moment or letting the perfect moment pass can ground your mission before it starts 
  • Strong product – Not having a great product makes getting funding or gaining a customer base challenging. Ensure the product or service you offer is well-designed, high-quality, and easily scalable with demand. If your product isn’t strong to start, your startup may struggle, regardless of marketing quality or pricing.  
  • Your Team – Collaboration is crucial when launching a startup. Your team quickly becomes the backbone of your launch, so make sure you have a stellar support system around you. This starts by ensuring you have everyone in the proper role. Assess everyone’s skills and then match the best person to each role. Each member should be passionate about their position on the team.  
  • Market understanding – Gain a deep understanding of your target customer base and your competition before launching. You’ll also want to examine the industry sector you’re entering. Determine if there’s a need for your product before you invest too much time, energy, and money. Also, see if the industry you’re entering offers any room for growth. 
  • Funding – Most startups raise funding from other sources, but your own finances can be a great place to start. Take stock of what financing you and other stakeholders have available from personal accounts, credit cards, and friends or family. From there, if personal resources aren’t enough, consider outside sources, like bank loans, fundraising, or crowdfunding. 

5 ways to grow your startup using rapid experiments and mentorship

For four months, Otis AI joined 7 other startups to work with Intuit and Highline Beta’s accelerator leaders and Intuit’s Innovation Catalyst (IC) coaches. ICs are employees trained in design-thinking that uncover customer problems and develop innovative solutions to create, invent, and look for new and better ways to improve customers’ lives. Each startup was paired with dedicated ICs who coached them on Intuit’s Design for Delight (D4D) innovation framework.   

Clarence Williams, Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of Otis AI, has always had an appetite to build simple solutions to rival those used by larger companies. They are on a mission to create an AI-powered app that allows anyone to launch data-driven digital ad campaigns on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Google within minutes. Looking back at the four-month-long journey, Clarence reflects on the key takeaways from his and his team’s experience participating in the Intuit Prosperity Accelerator and how it’s changed their business model. 

Here are the 5 ways fast-growing startups can scale their brand, based on Clarence’s experiments at Otis AI. 

1. Find new opportunities by speaking the customer’s language

Navigating a large business can be complex, especially when startups are looking to get the most value out of partnerships. Otis AI was able to get an inside look at how Intuit thinks about product development and marketing strategies.

Through Intuit’s D4D methodology, Otis AI picked up on how Intuit spoke the customer’s “language” which pushed their team to think about their own operations differently, and illustrated the value of looking at things from the customer’s point of view. By looking at problems through the customer’s lens, Otis AI improved the connections made with their target audience.

2. Unlock new insights by running rapid experiments and quick prototypes

Clarence, an experienced startup founder who has a passion for uncovering and developing easy-to-use solutions, shared that working with Intuit’s Innovation Catalysts (ICs) was an awesome experience. The ICs surprised the startup with their focus on the customer, and the D4D methodology unlocked a number of new insights. 

The process involved validating Otis AI’s assumptions about their customers and using rapid experiments to test their value proposition with small businesses. For example, Otis AI applied Intuit’s D4D process to identify the friction points within their onboarding process. The ICs helped Otis AI enhance its approach to solving problems for customers.

The Otis AI team was challenged to think beyond their own perspective and get to the root of the customer’s problem in a very short amount of time. This process was so effective that it resulted in their team creating a quick prototype that became a new product offering. D4D is now integrated into  how their team works every single day.

3. A custom curriculum can fuel startup growth 

Finding new ways to delight customers and solve problems with a customer-first lens is crucial for improving services that fuels their success. While many programs follow a standard curriculum, that wasn’t the case with the Intuit Prosperity Accelerator. Both Intuit and Highline Beta took the time to get to know each startup, from highlighting pain points to providing guidance on how to better improve customer acquisition. 

The program’s flexibility and feedback provided room for personalized sessions, allowing the Otis AI team to connect with industry networks and startup expertise specific to solving their customers’ needs. The perfect balance of startup expertise and corporate network connections delivered immense benefits to startups like Otis AI that will remain valuable moving forward as the company continues to grow.

4. Forming strong relationships can take startups to the next level

Collaboration comes in many different forms and part of the magic of collaboration happens when you connect with different people and can form genuine relationships while growing startups. Throughout the program, Otis AI and other participating startups not only collaborated with Intuit but worked with each other.

Hands-on sessions provided the opportunity to share challenges and wins and work through questions, where the 8 startups could learn from each other based on their experiences. Clarence found a key takeaway from the program was to focus on the people and relationships around you. Shared connections have not only helped Otis AI grow to the next level, but they walked away from the program knowing that contacts are available for collaboration whenever needed. 

5. Finding the right mentors equals results

Within four months of the program, Clarence and his team at Otis AI had the opportunity to connect with notable figures such as the national head of sales at Intuit to discuss sales strategies, and Highline Beta’s founding partner Ben Yoskovitz for an in-depth look at fast-growing tech startup metrics. The work of these mentors and IC coaches resulted in many great wins for the startup. Otis AI created a QuickBooks integration that appears on the QuickBooks App Marketplace. This marked a huge milestone for Otis AI, all thanks to the experience and expertise provided by the Intuit Prosperity Accelerator. 

Otis AI also created a new product offering, developed from the work they did with Intuit ICs, which is set to launch soon. The future can never be determined, but having grown from their valuable experience in the program, Otis AI is moving forward with excitement and anticipation of the many more achievements yet to come.

How can fast-growing startups sustain their growth rate?

Once your startup achieves a positive growth rate, it’s easy to let your foot off the gas. But reaching a point of positive growth is only half the battle. You have to sustain it. 

Any entrepreneurs looking for ways to sustain their positive growth rate should consider these tips: 

  • Find the right talent: The wrong talent in the wrong roles can stop a business’s growth before it starts. If you already have a team, ask yourself if your talent meets your clients’ needs. You may need to change the talent pools you search for your hires. It also helps to ensure that the hires you bring on are in roles that tap into their genius and match their passions.  
  • Optimize your operations: Operational efficiencies help to lower costs. Your workplace culture should support tools that empower efficiency within your team. Focusing on an efficiency-first mindset can make the most out of business opportunities and help sustain business growth. Implementing a scorecard of key performance indicators (KPIs) you can track, analyze, and improve is a great way to make this happen.  
  • Target the right clients: Not all clients may fit your business model. If you’re marketing and selling to clients who don’t have enough of a need to repeatedly buy your product or use your service, you may be doing a bunch of hard work for nothing. This makes it almost impossible to sustain growth. The right clients will keep acquisition costs low and help foster positive client relationships. To find the right clients, conduct market research and explore your niche. It’s also helpful to build out customer personas.  
  • Embrace collaboration: Growth requires risk. Lean on your team for help reaching goals and generating ideas for where the business should go. Operating with everyone’s best interest at heart ensures a positive experience for the entire team. Sustainable growth can’t happen alone. Entrepreneurs must embrace collaboration, risk, and diverse thought to reach the levels they envision for their business.  
  • Prioritize strong leadership: Great leaders have the vision to see opportunity in everything. Leadership requires instinctual decision-making, an ability to thrive under pressure, and the ability to develop long-term plans to guide the business’s future. Sustaining business growth requires this type of leader who also remains optimistic even in challenging times.

Helping level the playing field for small businesses

As a result of their completion of the Intuit Prosperity Accelerator, Clarence and the Otis AI team continue to grow! The organization has started partnerships with Intuit QuickBooks, OLO, and GoSite — just to name a few. The team is excited to have raised a successful seed round from a group of great investors and can’t wait to continue growing their startup. 

By making digital marketing uncomplicated regardless of your experience level, Otis AI is leveling the playing field for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) with their AI-powered mobile and web app.


1. What are the most important factors for growing startups?  

Some of the most important factors for growing startups are: 

  • Market research 
  • Product development 
  • The project leaders 
  • Funding 
  • Strong culture 

2. How can fast-growing startups sustain their growth rate?  

Once fast startups achieve positive growth, they can retain it in several ways. Savvy entrepreneurs leverage partnerships, cultivate efficiency and leadership in their team culture, take risks, and make informed decisions. Finding the right talent, the right clients, and optimizing your operation are equally important.  

3. What are some successful strategies used by fast-growing tech startups?

Here are five strategies fast-growing tech startups use to be successful: 

  1. Disrupt your industry. Don’t be afraid to take risks and do things differently from how they’re traditionally done. 
  2. Stay in tune with the markets. Consistently research your marketplace and stay ahead of the latest news and trends. Staying in the know helps you make smart moves in the face of changing markets or shifting buyer behavior. 
  3. Leverage technology. Marketing technology and AI platforms can help you leverage automation to stay ahead of your competition. Your IT and marketing teams should collaborate to see which platforms make the most of every customer lead that enters the system. 
  4. Explore automation. Using automation properly can streamline your operations and allow your team to do what they do best. Identify mundane tasks in your workflows and outsource them to technology. Not only does it save you time, but it reduces the potential for human error. 
  5. Develop your sales and marketing skills. Marketing and sales expertise helps tech startups amplify their brands. This helps you attract the funding and talent you need.  

4. What are the biggest challenges facing fast growing startups?

Some of the challenges facing fast-growing startups are the following: 

  • Managing cash flow: Starting a company can be expensive. If startups don’t track their expenses closely, they can burn through cash reserves quickly. Exploring additional rounds of fundraising is another possible avenue to keep liquidity high.  
  • Hiring the right people: Putting the right people in the right positions is essential to startup growth. Allowing your team members to do what they’re best at helps your company and your people succeed. And don’t overlook the importance of attracting high-level talent. Offering competitive salaries and benefits packages is a great way to attract and retain top-tier employees.  
  • Scaling: Scaling can be problematic since many startups begin lean without much overhead expense. As time passes, you’ll need to invest in team members and infrastructure to scale up the business. This, in turn, drives up costs, so startups may need to reconsider their pricing strategies as they grow to remain profitable.  
  • Cultivating culture: As your team grows, it can be challenging to maintain the same beliefs and values among all team members. Startups must establish and clearly state their mission, vision, and values. 
  • Regulatory compliance: As startups expand, so too might their regulatory and compliance obligations. Make sure your company complies with all relevant laws, rules, and regulations. If necessary, seek legal counsel from an attorney. Growth may invite scrutiny from investors, the media, and your customers. It’s best to consult a professional, educate yourself, and get ahead of potential issues.  

5. How do investors evaluate fast-growing startups? 

Investors cast a wide net when evaluating fast-growing startups, looking at everything from general performance metrics to industry-wide market trends. Some core characteristics they might evaluate include a startup’s: 

  • Target market 
  • Competitive advantage 
  • Scalability 
  • Business plan 
  • Execution of the business plan 
  • Customer adoption rate 

If you enjoyed Clarence’s story, be sure to check out how our Intuit Prosperity Accelerator helped Homewise CEO & Co-founder Jesse Abrams.