7 Startup Scaling Lessons with Federico Collarte

Baraja co-founder and CEO, Federico Collarte, provides advice for founders in the scaling process.

Federico Collarte is the co-founder and CEO of Baraja, a startup that enables the autonomous vehicle revolution through the use of LiDAR. Baraja recently closed a round of capital, totaling $40M AUD. Baraja is currently scaling globally with a team of nearly 200 and a focus on building its executive team in the United States. Since December, Baraja has hired approximately 60 new employees with more hires on the horizon. Federico joined Innovation Bay on our podcast Open the Pod Bay Doors and shared some pearls of wisdom for founders on the path of scaling up.

1. Only import talent as a last resort.

Collarte cites his experience with scaling Baraja in his recommendation for global growth. He suggests growing the team in the country where you want to expand, as opposed to importing talent to Australia; he believes importing talent for high level positions should only be considered as a last resort.

2. Take your time with hiring.

Collarte acknowledges that it can be difficult to find an appropriate balance between the urgency of filling positions and the desire to find the right candidate. He reminds founders that some positions take longer to hire for than others; founders need to exercise patience in the process in order to ensure they end up with the right candidate. If you hire the wrong candidate for the position, you will have to go through the hiring process again.

3.Consider corporate venture.

In Baraja’s recent round of funding, construction machinery company Hitachi, a Baraja customer, became a strategic investor. Corporate venture sends a message that the customer believes in the product so strongly that they are willing to invest in it. Additionally, corporate venture can be important in obtaining industry guidance.

4. Be authentic in capital raising

Collarte emphasises the importance of authenticity in capital raising, stating that it is crucial to inform investors about the technology utilised. Additionally, the level of risk should be explained if inventing something new to the world; however, the risk does not have to be reiterated to investors.

5. Know better than your customers.

Do not look at what your customers are asking you, but rather the need they are trying to fill; this will help get to the root of the customer need. In turn, it will help founders create products and services that more thoroughly fill these needs. Collarte suggests not only working on the problems that customers have today, but also anticipating their potential future problems.

6. Culture shapes the talent you attract.

Founders should always be working on creating a positive culture and environment within the organisation and among employees. Collarte encourages founders to consider the message the organisational culture will send and whether or not the culture will serve the business. Founders shape and determine the culture, which then attracts employees. A positive, inclusive workplace culture tends to attract a talented and committed workforce.

7. Nurture the co-founder relationship as early on as possible.

Collarte urges co-founders to nurture their relationship early on with open and honest discussions. He believes healthy co-founder relationships are fueled by allowing time for open discussions outside of formal meetings and presentations. He also encourages co-founders to position their desks in close proximity to one another in the office in order to allow for short check-ins throughout the day. Collarte believes reflecting together is key to building and maintaining a positive co-founder relationship.