Podcast 28: Going after hyper growth, with James Gibson, Revolut

This week, Jamie talks to James Gibson, Lead Product Owner at Revolut. Revolut was named the UK's fastest growing tech company in 2019. James gives tips on how you can implement their strategies and techniques to help your business grow too.

5 February 2020

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James Gibson, Revolut

James Gibson is the Lead Product Owner at Revolut, an innovative fintech global money app. The company has a personal and business app designed to ‘make money work for you’. Starting as a pre-paid card, they now deal in cryptocurrencies, business accounts and international money transfers James works on the business side of things, building out products.

The ingredients for growth

Revolut was named is the fastest growing UK tech company in 2019 and their growth strategy is centred around three things: KPIs (key performance indicators), people and roadmapping.

KPIs – Do you know what you’re optimising for, are you pushing everything in the right direction?

People – Are you hiring and nurturing the right people? How is your team developing? Without the right people, you’re never going to get to where you want to be

Roadmap – What are you going to do with those people to reach your goals? Being critical about bad ideas, just focus on the ones that are going to support KPIs

According to James, the key to Revolut’s success is structuring everything carefully, and then being ruthless in that approach. Using smart experimentation to work out the best way forward is at the heart of Revolut.

Hiring problem solvers

  • Despite being a banking app, Revolut typically don’t hire individuals with banking experience. Instead, they hire people from tech companies who think outside of the box in order to drive growth and success.
  • Being creative and doing things differently is one of the keys to growth as doing what everyone else is doing will result in you growing at the same rate as them.
  • Accountability: people who own the problem they are given and don’t blindly accept advice from others just because they outrank them
  • Analytical: anyone can think of a product, what’s hard is not to work out what you could, it’s working out what your should do.
  • Spark: an element of creativity, someone who brings fresh ideas to the table

Achieving KPIs

  • As a team, you’re given your target for the quarter but are given a huge amount of freedom in how you achieve that KPI
  • You then get to pitch different ideas so you can work out how to get from A to B
  • While you have more freedom, you also have more accountability and responsibility for your projects
  • Leadership at every level: you own what you do and are judged on your results

What’s a realistic target?

  • Set stretch targets that are more general, as you progress, they won’t look as unrealistic
  • Revolut has grown quickly through this strategy
  • Revolut is looking to launch in the US and Singapore in the coming months, these have been huge goals for them
  • Gradually, elements of these projects have come together and now it seems far more feasible

James’ key takeaways

  • Know what your goals are and make sure everyone in your company knows too
  • Hire the right people
  • Make sure you have razor focus on what you decide to push forward
  • Investing your time and effort in the right things when you’re small is probably the most important thing you can do

The big biz whiz quiz

James scored 7/10

Brilliant or bonkers?

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

– Mark Twain

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Jamie Maddison has written for a range of publications including Lonely Planet, Geographical, Diplomat, and Hidden Europe.

Article updated on: 25 March 2020

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