IT Industry

The biggest challenge Scaleups face today is not what you think it is

An article by Houston’s CEO Carmen Lincolne

Surprised by the energy

In 2016 I married a Startup founder. Of course it didn’t take long before I gave into the thrill of it all – and I started working in my husband’s business. And we both loved it!

One thing that stood out to me from early on, is how Rob was intentional about culture. He had a dedicated development team in Ukraine building his payments product, and despite these guys and girls being globally sought after, they stuck with him through thick and thin, year after year. And believe me, those years weren’t always easy (if you’re a founder reading this, you know what I’m talking about!).

It impressed me deeply how a highly skilled team on a different continent would be so dedicated to one person’s vision and business idea.

Of course, if you read my LinkedIn bio, you can guess by now where this story goes.

Houston, the IT talent business in Ukraine, was my hubby’s and he initially started it to financially support his Fintech business (I know, so clever!), which worked well for the time it was needed. As I was working in the Fintech with him, I helped out with Houston a little, visited Ukraine a couple of times, spoke to a few clients  – and over time fell in love with it all.

The Scaleups’ biggest challenge

As I started getting more involved in Houston, I noticed that a Scaleup’s biggest challenge isn’t only the first respectable round of funding and early client acquisition! The challenges don’t stop, they just become different. Once the growth capital is closed and key contracts executed, the challenge rapidly becomes ‘how do we accelerate?’ Like Tesla 0 to 60mph in 2.1 seconds (or is it 1.9 now?) acceleration!

How are we the first to market? How are we the ones making headlines? How are we the ones attracting attention of prospective clients and beat any competitor to it?

A limited local talent market clearly doesn’t help.

Speaking for only some of the big tech cities we deal with like London, New York and Sydney, engaging the talent needed to accelerate locally can take up to 6 months of internal and external manpower and it costs, besides the already rich salary packages, tens of thousands just in recruitment and hiring strategies such as events, bonuses and benefits.

Be intentional about culture

Most Scaleups I know that are serious about conquering a market, don’t have months and months up their sleeve to wait for the perfect candidate. They need features developed now, bugs fixed now, Apps developed now.

And yet, they don’t want to compromise on culture either, which is so easy to do when the main focus is commercial growth.  

Because Rob built Houston around his own needs as a Fintech startup in 2015, still today Houston serves more Startups and Scaleups than ever – with that same passion, understanding and experience. It’s the space we are most passionate about and where we can add the most value. How?

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As I run Houston I want to honour what Rob has built in the first place:

A culture first business that focuses on the growth of its clients.

Despite geographical distance, culture can – and must – be strong, output steady and loyalty high. We’ve seen it from our original story til our existing and happy clients today. 

Got questions? I’d love to talk to you, please email me on [email protected]



All of the services include

Guaranteed dedicated and fulltime resource availability

Dedicated client account management

Project management support

Cultural investment and professional development for each team member

Secure and modern office facilities

All employee overheads such as tax, pension, insurance, HR support