You don't need an idea to start a business

Scalabl®: a new paradigm for thinking and doing business on a global scale

El Observador
November 2021

Francisco Santolo is CEO and founder of Scalabl®, the global executive education and consulting company specializing in Disruptive Entrepreneurship and Corporate Innovation that teaches a new way of doing business.

The traditional paradigm for thinking and doing business, focused on investment and acquisition of assets, incurring significant risks, is becoming obsolete; the old business tools no longer withstand contact with reality, which is increasingly volatile, complex and uncertain. Such is the diagnosis made at Scalabl® and to which they respond with a new logic that replaces “knowing-it-all” with continuous learning and networking as the pillars of a transformative methodology. This is what they teach in the executive business education programs offered to entrepreneurs, businessmen, professionals, SMEs and corporate teams in already 50 countries, just 5 years after its creation in 2016.

Its founder and CEO, the Argentine Francisco Santolo (39), was recognized by Forbes as the "startup hacker" for his innovative application of business models and the bold premise that the incentives of the current startup ecosystem harm entrepreneurs. He is a graduate and MBA professor at CEMA University and studied at five of the six best business universities in the United States according to the US News 2022 ranking (Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, Chicago Booth and MIT). He co-founded and led the Board of more than 50 companies.

The novelty of Scalabl® lies in its development of a methodology for the generation of sustainable and scalable business models that limits initial investment and risk. How is it possible?

Santolo affirms that the trigger for this development was his observation of practical cases of entrepreneurs and his study of authors that, despite the fact that they were revolutionizing the business world with new theories on entrepreneurship and innovation, were not being interpreted correctly, or their reading and application were partial or biased.  

The old logic of production that led to the rise of modern corporations around 1910, explains Santolo, forged the belief that "you need money to start a business", since then "a lot of capital was required to set up factories, to produce on a large scale generic goods and to be able to sell them en masse at an accessible cost to the incipient middle class”, he continues.

In the 1970s, Nike challenged that logic by realizing that it could focus on branding and design by outsourcing its production to Asia. With the support of the stock market, other large companies followed suit, ignoring that they were “sowing the seeds of their own destruction”. “They outsourced logistics, sales, production, among other business operations”, explains Santolo, “developing suppliers that today are within the reach of any entrepreneur”. 

“The advancement of technologies and means of production is such that, thanks to the growing democratization that this entails, we are all going to be able to produce personalized things at decreasing marginal costs, custom-designed for limited groups of consumers who have a need that is unattended by the big companies”, he continues. “Today outsourcing is an available alternative to assuming the costs and structure of production; it is not necessary to put up that capital to set up a factory. The old logic, based on the long-term plan and on investing hoping for good results (if I'm lucky, I'll do well; if I’m not, I’ll go bankrupt), no longer makes sense. The companies of the future prioritize flexibility over efficiency.”

For Santolo, a business is nothing more than the repetitive generation and exchange of value between actors that one must choose as an entrepreneur. "The key is to find groups of actors with similar pains, problems, needs or desires, generate the processes and incentives to facilitate this exchange and capture part of the value generated," he explains.

“The proposal is very simple. It is about listening with humility, finding a client and understanding what they want or what they lack. And at Scalabl® we adopt a methodology to do this step by step, without incurring unnecessary risks, designing and testing hypotheses, calibrating the model, without falling in love with our product”, he highlights. “It is a radical change, although it may not seem like it. Those of us who have training or corporate experience in business find it very difficult to unlearn, and doing so is one of the skills of the future. In our programs and consultancies I insist a lot on humility, which allows us to learn from the diverse other.”

The Scalabl® methodology has helped to create, reformulate and strengthen more than 500 companies, and today there are more than 2,000 graduates who have taken its Course in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in three languages ??(Spanish, English and Portuguese) and who make up the Scalabl® Global Community, a horizontal and collaborative network that already covers 50 countries, including Uruguay, "a very important business and innovation hub" with which Santolo is committed to deepening ties. In addition, it is used successfully in prestigious multinational companies for innovation, agility and intrapreneurship initiatives.

Networking: the fuel of the Scalabl® Global Community 
“The most important thing is to build good relationships. It is fundamental, it is everything”, emphasizes Santolo. He adds that in the programs they teach the relational, emotional and intellectual aspects are worked on in unison, and it is the former that functions as fuel for the groups of students who collaborate and exchange throughout the course, and also later, when they are incorporated as members to the global community.

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