Lessons Learned Scaling A Mission-Driven Startup

Note: This post is based on a presentation I gave at Web Summit 2021 and was later compiled in an article published in Forbes on Aug 22, 2022.

At the age of 14, when I started my first business, the notion that it was a business didn’t compute. Sure, there were ads to sell to pay for server costs and hire programmers, but the label of “business” sounded like a betrayal of our mission-driven values. At age 30 and working on my third startup, being mission-driven and for-profit no longer seems paradoxical.

Over the years, I’ve learned three crucial lessons in scaling a mission-driven business:

1. Don’t make it about the short term.

Many people—even some investors—think that mission-driven means nonprofit. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. The most profitable companies are mission-driven, but their purpose goes beyond Wall Street’s short-term quarterly expectations.

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