NOAH London Conference 2019 | A fireside chat with Masha Feigelman, the European Lead of Fuel, a McKinsey Company.
Full interview video coming soon.

Fuel helps founders, funders, and corporate innovators accelerate to greater impact and higher valuations. As a Partner at McKinsey, Masha has had an opportunity to transform many small and large companies working closely with their top teams in a variety of industries from Healthcare to Retail. Masha is on the Board of Trustees of New Entrepreneurs Foundation and Centre For Entrepreneurship. Masha believes in the potential of entrepreneurial innovation and the positive change it will bring and spends significant time mentoring young entrepreneurs in her spare time. She joined McKinsey in 1997 and holds MBA from Harvard Business School.

Priscilla Tenggara: Hi, everyone we’re here today with Masha Feigelman from Fuel, a Mckinsey company and she’ll be sharing a bit more how she’s been empowering entrepreneurs. Can you tell us a bit more about Fuel?

Masha Feigelman: Fuel is a McKinsey company and what we focus on is working with scale ups and startups to help them foster better growth. I currently lead Fuel across Europe.

Few topics that tend to be relevant in different stages of the company include internationalization, pricing, product extensions, switching to enterprise and scaling organizations – which I’m particularly passionate about. 

Priscilla Tenggara: With your experience there what do you think has been the most common challenge for startups as they’re trying to scale and grow?

Masha Feigelman: There are different challenges for different stages. For early stage startups, it’s getting their product market fit right and doing deliberate pivots to find your position. At the later stage, I believe 70-80% of the barrier is scaling their people and organization effectively. 

So once you have your product market fit, how do you scale your organization to really grow? That is also a bit of an uncomfortable phase because you’re scaling from startup to corporate. And this is where people find it tricky.

Priscilla Tenggara: Definitely true. Can you tell us a bit more about how Fuel by Mckinsey is helping startups with the challenges you’ve mentioned?

Masha Feigelman: Yup, so let me start with some of the organizational challenges. So there are typically four things that a scale up (50-100 people organizations) encounters.

One is from the founder’s and CEO’s point of view and really communicating the audacious north star and doing so continuously.

Number two, I always say culture is your compass. It’s vital to set this up early; Fuel helps our startups set up the right culture, purpose, mission, vision, values and how they can maintain that as they scale across different geographies, offices and increase in the number of people.

The third is identifying top team leadership and its composition. How do you balance growth leaders with more operational leaders? So the famous example is of course, Sheryl Sandberg’s and Mark Zuckerberg’s relationship. It’s important to know how to coach a team to help them grow rapidly.

And the next one is one of my favorite topics, minimum viable processes. I know in the startup world, it tends to be a swear word because it sounds bureaucratic; but I think the key to success is minimum viable processes because this helps you unlock growth. And as you scale, setting processes will help multiple people go in the same direction and achieve higher and better growth at the same time.

Priscilla Tenggara: Yeah definitely. I think those four pointers are very important factors to consider as companies are shifting into new chapters.

As you’ve seen companies come in and out of Fuel by McKinsey, what do you think has been the digital trend of this year, and what do you predict the digital trend would be for 2020? 

Masha Feigelman: Interesting question. So there are trends and there are fads. People definitely use particular words everywhere they go, like blockchain – everything has a blockchain these days and some may not be relevant, but nevertheless… 

Another one is platform, because I think the way of the future is much closer to collaboration and cooperation. We see a lot of that in the last year where corporations work with startups to find a way to work together even with slightly different objectives. 

For corporations, the trend is to find innovation, and for startups, the trend is to find distribution. Another trend is that multiple scale ups and startups are working together in a closer ecosystem. Despite the current flack, WeWork enables some of that. And going back to your question, I think collaborations between startups and scaleup will be the trend going forward.

Priscilla Tenggara: Definitely, and you even see that in marketing. Many artists these days are collaborating with different artists to get more reach. 

Masha Feigelman: Actually another trend, and this one is not a new trend but a strategy that’s here to stay, companies identifying their meaning and purpose for employees beyond their day to job. This unites employees and their customers which can push them to further grow. 

Priscilla Tenggara: Right, the whole vision and mentality is almost like a cult and you see that with companies like Facebook and Google. People get so passionate about working there because of the mission and community the companies have created.

Our last question is, can you share more about why you’re excited to be at NOAH and why you decided to join us this year?

Masha Feigelman: Yes, very much looking forward to meeting new scale ups and startups, what people are doing, what’s working and what’s not working. My pet topic is how people are scaling their organization and how they’ve broken through their barriers.

Priscilla Tenggara: All revenant topics here at NOAH. Thanks for joining me today and I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference.