BusinessExecutive Q&A with Matt Widdoes (CEO of Mavan)

Executive Q&A with Matt Widdoes (CEO of Mavan)

Mavan recently announced they’ve helped over 25 clients achieve major growth goals over the last two years, and have unveiled plans to launch Mavan Studio, an in-house venture studio that will focus on building world-changing start-ups.

Mavan describes themselves as the expert-driven growth solution for scaling startups from Seed to Series C,and has driven measurable, sustainable growth for their clients across industries including FinTech, cryptocurrency, gaming, entertainment, health and B2B services. I was pleased to interview Mavan’s CEO, Matt Widdoes, who is a brilliant and natural entrepreneur, having worked for some of the biggest companies on the planet before launching Mavan. Matt has remained a competitive, capable and compelling leader throughout his career by continually evolving his skillset and approach while reimagining what’s possible for the future. Here’s what he had to say:

Tell us, what exactly is Mavan, what is its mission, and what inspired its creation?

Mavan is built atop an exclusive global network of 150+ senior leaders, specialists and experts across industries. We help startups scale faster and more efficiently by first diagnosing their core challenges, bottlenecks and growth barriers before applying our proven strategies for resolving them that’ve been refined over 15+ years of working at the world’s top tech companies. Simply put, we bring world-class specialists from around the globe to the companies that need to draw from their expertise in order to thrive. We tap the right people with the right skills for exactly the right amount of time to achieve a business’s ideal outcomes – typically in 90 days or less.

Having worked at unicorn tech companies throughout my career, I was always a bit unimpressed with the level of talent we were able to access through agencies. It often felt like we were having to teach them the fundamentals of the work we had enlisted them to lead, and I rarely felt like the agencies were looking at my business holistically, which is necessary in order to arrive at truly sustainable and scalable solutions for growth. So, we were inspired to create the kind of agency we’d always sought out but could never find — made up of a rich assortment of proven experts who can work quickly as fractional talent and at a fraction of the cost of employing a specialist full-time. 

Our team looks at the entire company across disciplines (from analytics and finance to marketing, content generation, product development, etc.) to develop a clear, comprehensive, actionable business blueprint that addresses any existing barriers to growth. We then outline a list of specific deliverables, tap exactly the right expert(s) within our network to lead the proposed solution, outline the costs and, if selected, execute that blueprint across every aspect of the business. We operate as a kind of shadow business, a team of expert partners standing in our clients’ corner, ready to help them optimize their business quickly.

Tell us about how you first got into scaling startups?

Both of my parents were entrepreneurs, so I had a front seat to startup life from an early age. I’ve also been completely immersed in the tech startup scene simply by living in the Bay Area for so long now. With that kind of proximity, you become intimately aware of the almost ubiquitous challenges these founders and startups face, and having helped some of the most disruptive tech companies scale past those same challenges while working in-house, I knew I had both the insight and the right people behind me to help deliver solutions to those problems in a way that could make a positive impact for startups worldwide. 

How important is networking to Mavan’s mission?

You know, it’s an interesting balance, because it is so crucial to establish a rich, robust network early on in your career and to continue to cultivate it throughout, but that same network can also carry through decades of work, collaboration, and innovation. I spent the last 20 years building these connections and establishing mutual trust with them, but I never set out to network just for networking’s sake. I think, if you have a genuine interest in people and a desire to help others succeed (which we do), it’ll all flow forward out of that initial human connection. 

What have you learned from the first two years since launching Mavan?

For me, these last two years have proven Mavan’s central thesis: that all startups can (and should) benefit from specialized talent, but most are so capital constrained that they are forced to settle for generalists who may or may not understand the intricacies of their discipline well enough yet to help push the business forward in a way that can scale. We’ve all seen how challenging, costly and time-consuming the existing hiring model can be – especially in this current era where most interviews are happening virtually, and workforces are increasingly siloed and remote. The key to optimal efficiency is being able to access the right people for the job for just the right amount of time, which is exactly the need we at Mavan are working to fill. We’ve also seen in these first two years just how closely direct-to-consumer marketing and business strategies mirror those that work best for B2B companies. Regardless of your business vertical, target audience or proposed solution, it all comes down to the data, which does not discriminate.

So, you can help scale basically any business?

Yes, Mavan’s strategies and solutions can help basically any startup scale, because we are pulling from a pool of proven experts across every imaginable discipline: from mergers/acquisitions and data science to product development, testing and engineering, lifecycle management, UX design, creative direction, advertising, marketing and more. As such, we’ve yet to encounter a complex business problem that our people cannot capably solve. That said, if/when we discover an instance where we don’t have the right person in place to achieve the anticipated results we’ve outlined, we’ll find them – and we won’t commit to a client or project until we have. 

Can you tell us more about Mavan’s in-house studio?

Absolutely. Mavan Studio is our in-house think tank and creative ideation playground where our own people can dream up, build out and launch the companies and products they want to see in the world. We truly believe we have sourced some of the world’s top talent, and we think it would be a missed opportunity to only leverage their skills and vision externally. With Mavan Studio, we’ve turned the traditional venture studio model on its head, as our mission is to empower our internal teams to dream big and have their best ideas brought to life. We source these great venture concepts from within, test them out, and – if they prove viable – scale them into successful businesses that we own and want to see in the world. In short, we’re empowering the people at Mavan to come up with great ideas, test them, fund them and grow them into viable companies. 

Mavan Studio has always been a cornerstone of our long-term vision, and earlier this year, we decided to double down on the Mavan agency arm of things, with an eye toward 10x-ing the business in order to rally pave a path for Mavan Studio’s development.

What’s next for Mavan?

Beyond the development of Mavan Studio and further scaling out our core Mavan services, we plan to become the authority and the sourcing solution for the fractional talent trend that will continue to rise over the next ten years. As we’ve seen, the current hiring model is broken, a fact that has been both exacerbated and crystallized throughout the pandemic. We predict that, a decade from now, every forward-thinking company will have a COO (Chief Outsourcing Officer) role at the helm, helping identify and recruit specialist talent in a fractional capacity. We have perfected this formula already, so we feel called to help other companies, business leaders and decision makers really learn how to maximize their results by optimizing their fractional hiring.

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