Startup Operating Models: The Secret behind Growth Companies

Joyce Mackenzie Liu
2 min readNov 12, 2020


“The secret of success in life is time rightly used” ― Sivananda Saraswati

There has been a noticeable shift in venture capital and financial markets more broadly. In speaking with investors across Europe and the US this year, it is apparent that investment focus is shifting away from highly experimental and capital-intensive startups in favour of businesses that demonstrate proven economics and more predictable growth.

Today’s increasingly uncertain, time-poor, and resource-constrained environment forces businesses to transition from high experimentation to measurable growth. Whether it’s people strategy, core tools and systems, or metrics and reporting, companies need to be nimble and adapt quickly in order to survive and be competitive in 2020 and beyond.

What is the key differentiation between European startups that survive and those that thrive to become global growth companies?

Very simple: the strength and agility of a company’s operating model.

In early July, David Sacks published his article “The Cadence: How to Operate a SaaS Startup” which shed light on operating models and showed how pivotal they are for scaling from 50 to 500 employees.

As a continuation of this topic and overarching theme behind enabling agility in Finance (and all functions) of a startup and scaleup, Tech EU is publishing a series of articles every Wednesday that examine the case studies of European startups successfully scaling to global growth companies. In particular, the articles dive into what their growth leaders did in practise to build an operating model which supports company strategy and execution.

In a 5-minute article introducing the startup operating models series, we first discuss:

  • What is a growth operating model?
  • Best practises shared by growth experts — the details of Q&A we asked growth experts at Falcon, Forto, Showpad, among others
  • Key pillars behind growth operating models

As always, feedback and insights are very much welcome. If you (or a friend) know of a growth stage software business and leader that should be featured in the series, do not hesitate to recommend them.



Joyce Mackenzie Liu

European Tech 🚀 Founder of Pegafund 🐎 Software Investor 🤖 Writer🖋️ 3rd Cultured 🌍 Foodaholic 🐷 Yogi 🧘🏻‍♀️