Volta Ventures and LevelUp have developed the Talent Strategy workshops for startups part of Volta’s portfolio. The investment company sees a need for supporting its portfolio in regards to human capital in addition to financial capital, as this is often a neglected aspect in growing companies. Research shows that a well-thought-out HR strategy is actually a significant growth factor. It is the first time in the Netherlands that an investment company has launched such initiative.
Talent Strategy Workshop for founders
Available to each company in the Volta portfolio, the program consists of two workshops per year, during which founders receive tailored, strategic HR advice from LevelUp’s shareholders Aik Deveneijns and Lebinh Luc. Working in talent acquisition for startups and scale-ups at LevelUp, they bring together more than 30 years of experience in Recruiting, HR and Startup strategy.
The sessions consist of open and customised discussions that cover topics ranging from organizational structure, personnel planning, performance management to processes for recruiting, compensation and retention also in the case of an international rollout.
“Most founders recognize that ‘team’ is a significant factor in scaling their company, hence they are developing it”, says Aik Deveneijns, CEO/Founder of LevelUp. “Yet, only a small amount of these leaders make long-term choices and investments. Only in which case, access to talent, leadership development and retention of employees will lead to a strategic competitive advantage”.
“As the founder of Blanco Fintech, one of Volta’s portfolio companies, I was able to have numerous strategic HR Sessions with LevelUp. These sessions provided me with a lot of insights and being able to discuss freely with experienced people who have a fresh, outside perspective has helped me enormously. The HR strategy themes for the next growth phase are clear now.”
The importance of an HR strategy for a startup
“We try to help our portfolio companies as much as possible, and in addition to sales and pricing workshops that our companies already have access to, human capital is always a challenge for startups. And too little attention is paid to it”, says Sander Vonk from Volta Ventures. “Founders still regularly craft unrealistic employee profiles in their growth plans. They start looking for a ‘sheep with 5 legs’, underestimate salary and start the recruitment process too late. These issues are reflected in the growth process of a company. Moreover, HR encompasses much more than recruiting: retention, training, remuneration, etc. are also part of it. You need these elements if you are planning to have sustainable growth. Otherwise, they will become bottlenecks.”
When it comes to rapid business growth, human capital is as important as financial capital. That’s one of the main conclusions of a 2019 paper by Harvard and the French INSEAD (source). Successful startups not only raised the necessary sum of money but they also focused on finding, recruiting and optimally onboarding the right talent, from the beginning.
Volta Ventures observes this in practice. Preparing for success is essential, and when growth starts you must be able to deal with it. Several portfolio companies from Volta are struggling with growth, due to staff shortage. This is often due to a missing structure or lack of preparation. One of the companies in their portfolio missed out on around 40,000 monthly sales because their team was too small. Another had to temporarily stop their sales because the team could not deliver.
The first talent strategy workshop in the industry
HR strategy is perceived as “something for big companies”. However, with the Talent Strategy workshops, Volta Ventures and LevelUp, offer Volta’s portfolio the opportunity to work on an HR strategy right from the early stages of growth. This makes them the first in the industry to offer such service, in the Netherlands.