A great deal of work goes into starting a business — but what does it take to grow one? When it comes to taking a venture to the next level, Maud Pasturaud is a woman whose advice you’ll want to hear.
Presently, she is head of growth for Secret, a popular social networking app that allows users to share thoughts anonymously. Prior to that, she led mobile and international growth at online shopping site Gilt Groupe — where she says she learned a lot about scrappiness and persistence, constantly pitching the use of mobile tech and consumer analytics to initially wary colleagues.
Pasturaud, a Paris native with a master’s in entrepreneurship from Europe’s ESCP-EAP, began her career in tech growth as the manager of business development at Plug and Play Tech Center, a tech-focused global accelerator in San Francisco. Being in the U.S., particularly in Silicon Valley, inspired her. “It was very clear to me that this mindset of being very scrappy, execution-focused, and innovative — of changing and building things — was my personality.”
We spoke with Pasturaud about the topic she knows best — business growth. Below, we share her insights on how to grow a company.
1. Start small.
“Being humble is my number one value that I really believe in — humbleness and humility,” she says. “You can only become an expert if you put your head down and work really hard.” Pasturaud admitted that she learned this lesson the hard way when first trying to do business in America. “At first, I took whatever had worked in Europe and did the same thing in the U.S., but that wasn’t the right way. After a couple of years of struggling, now I can do it for companies here, and on a much larger scale.”
2. Give it soul.
Pasturaud’s passion for her work is evident — especially when talking about the mission of her present company. “I really believe everything is merging around social, but usually what you see is the best version of [user’s] lives.” With Secret’s platform, she says people are more likely to touch upon “aspects of life where we may need help — that are deeply personal.” She says that every entrepreneur should feel this passion about her (or his) venture.
3. Show, don’t tell.
“A sign of really understanding a product is if it’s bringing value to an audience in a sustainable matter. Before you get there, it’s going to be difficult,” she warns, adding that entrepreneurs should want to “be of maximum value to [customers].” Also, Pasturaud says that many business owners focus too much on customer acquisition, and not enough on customer retention. “Be as nimble and focused on retention as you are on acquisition. Think in a scrappy way. Think innovative.”
4. Be flexible, especially when it comes to tech.
At Gilt, Pasturaud says she persuaded colleagues to write a new playbook centered around the growing importance of mobile technology. But, she notes, it’s impossible to follow the rules in that book in a world where mobile tech develops so quickly. “There are always new platforms, new tools, new best practices, new ad channels that pop up every day. That in and of itself is amazing. It’s not like you can take what you learned yesterday and apply it in six months — you have to adapt and learn constantly.” The lesson? Entrepreneurs must be flexible, and willing to take chances, she says.