Slava Rubin on Empowering Leaders as Startup Grows to 60 Employees

In Chapter 9 of 15 in his 2013 Capture Your Flag interview, Indiegogo CEO Slava Rubin answers "What Leadership Skills Are Becoming More Relevant to You As Your Career Progresses?" Rubin shares how his startup, Indiegogo, has grown from 15 to 60 employees in the year between his 2012 Year 3 interview and this Year 4 interview. Rubin notes how it no longer is about individual work but rather empowering new leaders to make decisions in a supportive structure that uses relevant business processes. Slava Rubin is CEO and co-founder of Indiegogo, the world's largest crowdfunding platform. Indiegogo empowers anyone, anywhere, anytime to raise funds for any idea—creative, cause-related or entrepreneurial. Prior to Indiegogo, Rubin worked as a management consultant. He earned his BSE degree from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.


Erik Michielsen: What leadership skills are becoming more relevant to you as your career progresses?

Slava Rubin: As a founder, it was all about just getting the work done, seeing a wall right in front of you and just like putting your head right through it. That was the core skill of being an entrepreneur. I think now we’ve grown in the last year since I last spoke to you, from about 15 employees to 60 employees. I really need to rely on my leadership team to do a lot more than managing and empower them to do a lot of the core decision making. It’s really about empowering my leaders, about listening whether it’s from my leadership team all the way down to the most junior person, and to try to suss out that information as to connecting the trends as to what’s going on, and it’s also about analyzing data in a good way that can make big decisions easier.

Erik Michielsen: And what does that look like when you’re 15 versus 60? 

Slava Rubin: I mean definitely the aura is changing in terms of what the structure looks like, but it’s also you need to set up systems and processes that are just more scalable and just escalation policies in place, so you can’t constantly be running around like a chicken with your head cut off on any decision, and we can’t have every decision go through one individual whether it’s the CEO or not. So we just need to really figure out, you know, how do you escalate decisions? To what level? When and why? How? And who do you empower? For what? How do you manage? And, yeah, just use a lot more data as part of the decision making.