Moving to the other side of the table and beyond: scaling up with the Global Entrepreneurship Director of Telefónica

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In my role as an advisor and coach to some of the world’s fastest growing companies, I’ve learned how to resist the temptation of entering into a company and simply instructing my clients on what they should do to achieve growth. While at times this is, of course, required of me, part of my job is learning when and how. 

This is a similar experience to that of Miguel Arias, Global Entrepreneurship Director at Telefónica, when he’s working with leadership teams. With his rich background in scaling companies, he’s learned what it’s like to be on all sides of the table – which has helped him learn and grow even further as a director at Telefónica.

Starting from bootstrapping a webcasting and virtual events company – which was later sold to the American leader in the sector – to joining as the COO of Carto when the team consisted of only 12 people, he’s learned the ins-and-outs of building a company from scratch.

When he was offered the unique opportunity to go corporate with his current role at Telefónica, he took the opportunity to move over to the other side of the table. There, he even gets to explore what he jokes is his “expensive hobby,” A.K.A. investing in startups. 

We were honored to have someone with such a diverse background come and join us on the ScaleUp Valley podcast to discuss his key learnings of hyper-growth. You can listen to the whole episode here or read some of my highlights below!

From COO to Global Entrepreneurship Director

In his role of COO at Carto, Arias was exposed to the joys and challenges of scaling up. In just 4 years they raised $40 million, poising themselves for a healthy trajectory of growth. During that time, he developed his own definition of the role of COO. 

“The role of the COO is to build the teams. Build a great sales team, build a great marketing team, operations, finance. Then over time, you will eventually have these great operators, who are all experienced and do it much better than you do.”

Once you get to the point where you can pass on the baton, comes a more personal question: what will be the most fulfilling next step? 

Crossing over to the other side of the table

 Now as the global responsible for all of the entrepreneurial efforts at Telefónica, Arias has the opportunity to open himself up to new experiences.  

That includes entering into a corporate atmosphere and also taking on the new role as investor. During our conversation, he gave us his 5 key stipulations when looking for companies to work with:

  1. Mature startups with revenues around half a million to 2 million. They don’t need to have huge teams (10-30 or so) but should already be showing promising traction. 
  2. Technology that is close to Telefónica, products that they can provide value to, that they understand, and where they can provide technical help. 
  3. Around post seed, pre-series A. They are not the first check (anymore!)
  4. What is the team? Their motivations, expertise, and why do they do what they do. 
  5. What is the market? And how is that aligned with Telefónica’s vision? 

There was a lot more to learn from his captivating episode of the podcast. To hear more from the man himself about his work on both sides of the table, you can listen to it here.

Then, keep listening and keep scaling!

Mike Dias