Fueling Startup Growth with a Business Operating System | Interview with Scott Abbott
Join Steve Iskander, Founder and CEO of Intrepid Finance, in this insightful video interview with Scott Abbott, CEO of BOS-Up, as they discuss the critical role of business operating systems in fueling startup growth and share valuable insights for entrepreneurs and founders. Gain expert knowledge on building resilient com
Steve Iskander: Join us in this exciting episode as we sit down with Scott Abbott, the founder and CEO of BOS-Up, whose specialization is helping startups and small businesses build, run, and scale successful and resilient companies. Scott shares his insights on what fuels growth for a startup company and why having a business operating system is so critical to any company’s growth. His company’s technology-driven solution, 90.io, allows companies to frame, store, access, and archive information and automates everyday aspects of work, allowing companies to have more time that they can work on their business rather than in their business.
In this episode, we’ll dive right into the world of business operating systems and explore the critical role it plays in solidifying a business’s vision, fueling growth for startups while providing productive results.
Join us as we learn from Scott’s vast experience and expertise in the industry. I hope you enjoy.
Steve Iskander: Hey Scott, great to see you again. I appreciate you jumping on with us. So teach us a little bit more about what BOS-Up is and a little bit about your experience that you have.
Scott Abbott: Well, thank you, Steve, for having me on the show. I appreciate it. Good to see you again.
Steve Iskander: Yeah, absolutely. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and your experience working with startups?
Scott Abbott: Oh goodness. So I’ve been, In the startup world, I think, for almost 35 years in one capacity or another, both as a founder, entrepreneur, investor, advisor, also worked with big companies like IBM and, Microsoft, and Oracle in their channel program helping early-stage startup companies. So, you know, I think it’s been in my blood for reasons I can’t explain. But yeah, so today, I work as an investor, advisor.
I started a company recently along with my partners at 90, software company that we started about eight years ago. And so just have an affection, passion, maybe even obsession if you will, with helping startup companies, primarily probably in the SaaS tech space, but also work happily with companies in distribution manufacturing and anybody who’s out there trying to go from startup to scale up to successful companies.
Steve Iskander: Wow, that’s definitely exciting. And so what really led you into that from the excitement? The you’ve got a ton of expertise in there. What really led you into your desire of wanting to work with such early-stage companies? It sounds like you’ve worked with some very prominent name and large organizations, but now you’re really working with these earlier stage and infancy companies. What really led you to want to work with those companies?
Scott Abbott: Besides, I’m a knucklehead and a glutton for punishment and I don’t know better. You know, there’s a little joke and I’m going to date myself. And if you know the joke, if you don’t, you can Google it. Back in 1995, right after Al Gore invented the internet, insert laugh lines there, I was with an IBM business partner and IBM came out with probably the first focus on using the internet for business. And they called it e-business. And that’s when I started my first company in Broad Ripple. Started a little internet consulting web development company out of my basement. And within a couple of years, we raised about 15 million in venture capital, bought a bunch of companies, grew too fast, did a bunch of crazy things. In hindsight, if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t be talking to Steve because I’d probably be on an island somewhere in Tahiti. But the good news is that didn’t happen. So here I am. And yeah, I got caught up in the.com boom bus crash. So we went from growth at all expenses and crazy dot com era stuff. And it’s a big part of my passion today, right? You know, the old cliche, if I only knew then what I know now. So a big part of my mantra is, what if I know now what I’ll know then? So my passion is helping startups and early-stage companies not avoid the mistakes, it’s important to go through those, but lessons learned, experiences had, credentials, both the good and the bad. And that’s, again, a big part of my passion. And then obviously the tools, the software, the frameworks, if you will, to help companies succeed. That’s really what it’s all about for me today.
Steve Iskander: Yeah, I mean, you’ve definitely had an impressive track record and look forward to when you do get on that island in Tahiti, but can you explain a little bit about what is a business operating system, Scott?
Scott Abbott: Yeah, you know, for all intents and purposes, we like to have a little fun at BOS-Up in 90. Everybody’s on a system whether you know it or not. And if you say you’re not on a system, you are in a system. You’re on an ad hoc, make it up as you go along.
I mean, there’s a bunch of great business books out there from the icons like Jim Collins, Built to Last, Good to Great, Drucker, Deming. A lot of people have heard the book Traction and the System EOS, Scaling Up, Burn, Harnish, E-Myth, Michael Gerber, Jack Stack, Great Game of Business. So there’s a lot of wonderful business books that are out there already that talk about the importance of how to run a great company.
And the simplest way we know how to describe it is a business operating system. And what a business operating system does it brings what we call the nine core competencies together. And I would really argue it’s something that, unfortunately, most founders, they don’t think about the chassis of the car or the foundation of the house. They’re thinking all about how it looks and product market fit and being…Scrum and agile, right? So they’re all caught up, and I get it in the cool, sexy, buzzy world. But at the end of the day, if you’re not running and focused on some of the disciplines that successful companies do, then that could get you into trouble. That’s what a business operating system does. A really good one will bring together vision, the people, how we score and keep score, things like KPIs and OKRs, the way we report, the way we manage.
and really make sure that the on the company stuff, right? Not just the grind and the products, but that both are being done simultaneously and that you’re making sure you’re thinking about the future while you’re taking care of the present. So a good BOS brings all that together in a synergistic, concise fashion. So it’s easy, it’s understandable, and it helps founders and startups do both at the same time. Grow, scale, and deliver, and make sure that they’re also doing the fiduciary governance things they need to do to run a company.
That’s a BOS.
Steve Iskander: Oh, no, I definitely am in. And I can relate to the, I like the product market fit of things, the sexy, the sleekness of the technology, especially in early-stage software companies. So, you know, I feel like I can definitely relate to that side of the early-stage startup companies myself, but how do you determine who is a good prospect that you would wanna work with from a BOS-Up?
Scott Abbott: Well, why we started BOS-Upp is, if you look at again, a lot of those systems I’ve booked, methodology, as I mentioned earlier, right? They tend to be for companies that are a dozen to 250 employees, right? They’re already up and running. And I think startups and early-stage companies tend to, I’m just gonna say it, blow off some of the things that they need to do to become a company until they think they need to do it. And I would argue that’s kind of like going to market or getting out of your house without a head and heart. Yeah. It’s an end both versus either or. So our passion for BOS-Up is, I mean, our partners at 90, you know, almost 10,000 companies in the world, quarter million users, 32 countries.
Steve Iskander: Wow.
Scott Abbott: And it’s a very successful software. But again, it’s typically with companies that have been around, they’ve got a dozen plus employees. And so we created BOS-Up to really focus on those startups above the garage. You know, basement type of businesses. You know, we got about $25 million-plus with the software, but it only cost you 16 bucks a month per user.
Steve Iskander: Wow.
Scott Abbott: So what we really decided to do with BOS-Up was take the software that we know works and, in a lightweight, affordable virtual workshop formula, provide what we call LDA, learning, development, and application. So we teach the founders how to use the software. We help them literally get into it and customize it for their company. And then along the way, we also provide what we call CTDs, concepts, tools, and disciplines to help them be better at leadership, management, teamwork, and accountability. So you get this wonderful blend of content and context. It’s kind of like building a beautiful brick home. You got bricks and mortar. You need both. And that’s what we’re doing at BOS-Up and the 90 software company that we are partners with.
Steve Iskander: Now, it definitely sounds exciting. Price point right definitely resonates with the early stage.
Scott Abbott: I sure hope an early-stage company can afford 16 bucks a month as opposed to you know, and I see, and I do it myself today, right I work I have another company called Stratikos, and I work with you know, upper lower mid-market companies and it’s a it’s a long journey it’s a much different price point right so so yeah we try to be our three mantras at at BOS-Up are simple effective and affordable.
Steve Iskander: Got it. No, it definitely sounds like you are. In working with these startups, it seems like there’s endless challenges, but some of the challenges, can you talk about some of the challenges that an early-stage company would have and how BOS-Up might be able to address these challenges?
Scott Abbott: Yeah. I think if we’re brutally honest, guilty as charged, man. I had much more failure at first than I did success. I go back to that silly cliche if I only knew that one, I know now. And I don’t even think some of the business schools teach it. And the concept is and both. I want a great vision. I want culture. I want values. I want cool. I want product market fit. I want to be enamored and in love with my technology. But I need the infrastructure. I need to make sure my accounting is done accordingly. I need to make sure my people are doing the work they need to do. I need to make sure that I’m measuring and scoring and reporting accordingly. You with me?
Steve Iskander: Yeah.
Scott Abbott: I think what happens sometimes is that duality of how do I prioritize the here and the now and take care of the future, right? One of the concepts and tools, and disciplines we have are what we call rocks. Actually, it comes from Stephen Covey, famed author. And rocks are technically prioritized projects, programs, and initiatives, right? And if all you’re focused on is the here and the now and, and, and sprints and getting to that next level, and you’re not thinking forward about where cash flow is your balance sheet, your investors. And so the beauty about a great business operating system, and obviously, you know, I’m a fan of ours at 90 and 90 OS specifically, right, is that we bring both the ability to envision the future. Jim Collins calls them BHAG, big hairy audacious goals, three year, one year, 90 days, one week. We make sure that we know who’s who in the organization, even if they’re not employees yet today, right? A good founder needs to think at a minimum on four foundational functions, product, operations, the technology, finance, right? The assets, the checking account, cash flow, P&L, sales, how people buy and hopefully how they get it, and then marketing. And then they need to be a president, a founder, a CEO. So for all intents and purposes, you have five functions, even if it’s yourself that you need to think about. And if not for a boss, how are they thinking about it? And how are they coordinated? And so what our software does and what our workshops do, it takes a proven cloud-based application platform. And all you basically gotta do is plug in your own stuff and then integrate it into your world so it doesn’t throw you off and everything else you’re doing.
Steve Iskander: Oh. Very cool and very exciting. So it sounds like you have, again, a tremendous amount of experience there. Could you share maybe a success story or two with us on a company that implemented your software and your in BOS-Up and how it led to their overall growth and success?
Scott Abbott: Yeah, so, I mean, you know, 90 has been out for seven-plus years, and we’ve got success all over the earth, right? BOS-Up, we launched, we did a soft launch. We’d been building it for almost a year, being very intentional about the solution. The solution is both virtual. So we do virtual classroom-type sessions with the coach. They’re effectively two days over two weeks. Very cool. We use gamification. We have a very unique style of teaching so that most startups kind of get a little antsy, they get a little bored. Look, squirrel, they wanna do a bunch of stuff. So the way our founders learn, develop, and apply the software is singularly unique. We’ve worked very hard on it. I’ve got a team that’s been working on this literally for six months. So we’ve done three, we call them soft betas. But we’ve already had about two dozen companies go through our workshops. Frankly, the references you go to our website bosup.work, they’re out there. We’ve had a dozen companies say, I wish I knew what I learned now back in the day. I would have not spent so much money. I would have been more efficient. I would have been more effective. We actually had a company that was gonna go out and raise a bunch of money and give up a bunch of equity and do a bunch of things. And they had spent all this time on their PPM, their business plan. And after they got up and running on 90 and they went through a workshop, they didn’t do any of that. They brought investors because the investors saw that they actually knew how to run a company not just develop a product. So the valuation was higher because they got credit for what we call goodwill versus just book value, right? And they actually had them come in at better terms, and they ultimately didn’t spend as much money because they were gonna hire about five people, and they realized they didn’t have to do it. So yeah, we’ve got a bunch of great examples. We’re going real live on our virtual session starting in September. I’m running a couple of facilitation sessions. You’re familiar with Start Something Ventures. You and I involved in it, Developer Town, Michael Kelly, and those guys. So we’re working with a bunch of local founders in Indy. And then in September and October, we’re really taking this national. In fact, actually, we got some stuff going on in Europe because that’s the beauty of the cloud, right? So yeah, a lot of great examples, especially again, 16 bucks a month per seat. So the ROI is pretty substantiated.
Steve Iskander: So as an early-stage founder that’s looking somewhere to begin, they go to bos-up.work. Is that their next step if they’re not sure if a system like this would work for them or?
Scott Abbott: Uh, if they want to get out of their own way and, and, and basically harness and leverage $25 million worth of coding and, uh, to a bunch of people’s credit, you know, you don’t, this may not sound, but we’ve got hundreds of years of experience and expertise that’s baked into our software that’s baked into our curriculum, that’s baked into our workshop. And so, yeah, instead of, uh, going to get an MBA or spending all this time and all this money. We’ve worked really hard on building a simple, effective, affordable solution that’s cloud-based. Your time, your space, your way. For all intents and purposes, for about seven hours, two days, 14 hours, you get the concepts, tools, and disciplines that some may never learn. You get the software as well, and you get this wonderful packaged programmatic built just for you solution to help you with the tools and the disciplines to run a great company so you can actually focus, and most founders, let’s be honest, they wanna go to where the cool things are at, I get it. But you know the stats, man. The number of companies that go out of business, the number of companies that get distracted, the number of companies that screw up, and it’s because they don’t have that foundational business operating system to ensure that their vision, their product, and all the things you need to do to be successful are in place and respected. And that’s what the software does.
Steve Iskander: Yeah, no, very, very impressive. And guilty as charged and so many things that you said, Scott, so I can-
Scott Abbott: Hey, you and me. You and me both, man. We’re all guilty. You’re doing it in so many ways. Show me, show me. I think failure sometimes, there’s this new cliche like you gotta fail, fail. I don’t know, I prefer not to fail.
Steve Iskander: Yeah, that’s me.
Scott Abbott: But, yeah, I think the reality is we’ve all been there, Steve, if we’ve been around. And that’s again, my passion here is, is I do hope because of our solution, a lot of startup early-stage founders can avoid some of the pain, the suffering, the difficulties. So they can really put their energy on delivering, not necessarily running, right? Software doesn’t run it for you per se. You run on our software on 90 OS, and we help you through BOS-Up to learn it, to implement it, to get up and running. But if you take care of that properly, Isidore Sharpe, the founder of Four Seasons, has a wonderful quote, systemize the predictable so you can humanize the exceptional. And if you bring in a business operating system that helps you with all that stuff that most people either blow off or don’t wanna do, just think about it, man. It just allows you to be much more involved in present focus so that when you’re not actually working, right, there’s a line.
Do you own your business, or does your business own you? And I’d say the reason why most businesses own their founders and they work 20-hour days, seven days a week, it’s not because of the product side, and why they started the company, it’s the stuff behind the firewall that bothers them. And that’s what a BOS does.
Steve Iskander: Thanks again for joining us today, Scott. I’m definitely guilty of everything that you’ve said. I’ve stubbed my toe multiple times in organizations and wish I had a little bit more focus or a business operating system in place. I love what you’re doing in the early-stage companies and especially in the tech community. So I just wanted to thank you for everything that you’re doing, Scott, and for joining us today.
Scott Abbott: Well, likewise, Steve, and kudos to you in Intrepid, right? Financing cash, the ability to get from here to there, doesn’t come without, you know, resources, and you provide a great resource, and you’re a wonderful asset to the market, and I don’t just say that, right? You’ve got a great value, and so between you and the company, thank you, by the way, and we appreciate everything you’re doing.
Steve Iskander: Excellent. Thank you, Scott. Great seeing you again. Look forward to the next time.
Scott Abbott: Likewise. Thanks, Steve.