In Chapter 15 of 15 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, community builder and entrepreneur Fabian Pfortmüller answers "What New Challenges Are You Facing As You Grow Your Business?" He finds the business has passed the "get started" phase into its position as an 8-person company. As it looks to take the next step and expand into the 25-50 headcount range, Pfortmüller shares how the maturing company is assessing its team, its capabilities, and its market opportunity. Pfortmüller is co-founder of the young leader accelerator, Sandbox Network, and HOLSTEE, an apparel and design firm that sells meaningful products to mindful shoppers. Pfortmüller graduated from Columbia University and its school of General Studies.
Erik Michielsen: What new challenges are you facing as you grow your business?
Fabian Pfortmüller: With HOLSTEE we’re going definitely into phase three right now I would say. First phase was just get started phase. Phase two was building up to kind of a certain first level, for now 8 people. We have grown a lot in terms of traffic, revenue, sales, you know, how our brand and our community has grown and that keeps growing right now.
The question is: where do we take this from an 8-person company to maybe a 20 people company. How do we take this to really have an impact on a global level and those questions we never thought of in the beginning and very often people told us in the beginning, you’ll be thinking about those questions later on and we’re like, “You guys are crazy”. We’ll never have think of like inventory questions and, you know, how to optimize our books and financial planning and what not because in the beginning you just make it work.
And that’s okay, that’s how it should be, but in the phase that we are right now, we really wanna fully understand every part of our business to then be able to scale it up and scale doesn’t come by itself. Scale comes from fully understanding where you’re at and finding that niche, that really kinda has the opportunity to grow a lot. And at HOLSTEE right now, at the moment where we have an existing business that is doing very well and is growing, but at the same time it also gives us the opportunity to take a step backwards. We were a whole week in California last week just to do exactly that. Think of, you know, where do we really wanna take this in the next 3 or 5 years and almost start with a clean slate.