Soda Inc. went through a strategic refresh this year, to regroup on what it was doing and what it was delivering to its clients.
And although Soda is still about supporting startup entrepreneurs, it is also about scaling for growth, educating and building competency.
That means Soda wants to help all businesses, not just startups. Beyond 2019 Soda will be looking to help any businesses that are looking to grow.
CE Erin Wansbrough said Soda’s refresh was focused from the outside-in.
“We spoke to many clients who have been through our programs, just to get really clear on whether we felt what we were delivering was what they were getting and also to understand the reasons why they engage.”
She said it was about the whole customer journey and understanding their pathway.
“Through that we had some really key insights and we were able to prioritise and refine where we need to go in the future.
“So, we first of all focused on what ‘is’ the current state, and then what do we want to ‘be’ or become. It was an ‘is-be’ process. Then we wrote about the ‘how’ in the middle.
“The ‘is’ was very much customer centric, talking to them, a lot of design thinking kind of approach, a lot of empathy and out of all of that information it was really clear about who Soda was today.”
Erin said the team reflected on how they were talking about themselves and what their current plans were, which they realised wasn’t coming through in their current strategy.
“That was, we are about the founder and backing them all the way. Underpinning that, we had to decide what our values were as a business and how that also transpired into what we are delivering.
“The other challenge we had, with our current business model, was the limited number of people we could reach, because of our restraints as a not-for-profit.
“So, we set out on a mission, once understanding where the opportunity was, to figure out how we help way more people than we currently help and how do we start to move our business model to be more financially sustainable?
“Rather than relying on central government for a big part of our income, how do we transition to have other income coming in that underwrites what we do, in a space where there is limited funding and where we don’t want to take money away from the businesses?”
From that, Erin said, Soda became clear around the value it brought and what it was really great at. And that was around educating entrepreneurs, the knowledge Soda had and the connections it had.
“We have such a deep well spring of people that we are connected to. We have seen best practice, we know best practice, we know how to translate that on a pragmatic way to entrepreneurs.
“We also have empathy. Many of us have owned, run and been involved in businesses directly so we understand the highs and lows. Because we are focused so much on the founder as well as the business itself, and the reality is, the business itself is the founder for the first few years, we really set out to provide an empathetic high quality service.
“So, the three key parts of our brand promise became 1. independence – always about the founder and their business, 2. wisdom and quality – learning from mistakes, looking to inspire people and having a bespoke plan that is correct for each business, and 3. empathy – we know that time is everything, but founders can be drowning at times, there’s never ending questions, there’s never enough resources, so it’s how to really help them get a plan and get unstuck and moving forward.
“So, we haven’t really changed a lot. We are still about entrepreneurs, but we are also about scaling for growth, educating and building out that competency.
“Beyond 2019 you’ll see us also supporting any business that’s looking for growth, we are not a closed shop only for founders and entrepreneurs of startups, but we are sticking to our knitting right now and sticking to our community,” Erin said.