Gousto: Five years of success, five important lessons

Gousto founder and CEO, Timo Boldt outlines the five big lessons he's learned managing rapid growth in an increasingly competitive sector.

Disrupting the recipe box industry at scale since launching in 2012, UK-based Gousto has proven its excellence as a specialist online retailer, directly competing (and winning!) against large global giants to make cooking from scratch accessible for those living busy lifestyles. Sending almost 400,000 meals monthly, it distributes recipe boxes with fresh, pre-measured ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions across the UK. Here are the top five lessons learned from managing Gousto’s rapid growth in an increasingly competitive sector.

Grow your people, grow your business

The number one ingredient for success is people – strategically hiring the best talent at the right time, whilst still being able to constantly re-assess your existing team and their capabilities. A robust hiring process is key, which is born out of being honest about what type of culture you really want to create. Hyper growth requires you to hire fast – so there’s no room for hidden biases in the recruitment process. I recommend anonymising certain recruitment stages, auditing the process and avoiding gender stereotyping – all this helps in building the strongest team for growth.

Encourage ‘customer mania’

Create a culture that understands it’s the customers who pay everyone’s salaries. It’s not enough to merely listen to customers, it’s about incorporating their feedback into every business decision. At Gousto, we encourage ‘customer mania’ – a total obsession with evaluating what our customers respond well to and putting systems in place to understand more about their feelings and emotions. It’s these insights which allow us to continually invest time into making our product better.

Say ‘yes’ to mentorship

Mentorship can drive a step change in business. Having the benefit of someone else’s experience is invaluable and constantly learning is a must. I have over 10 mentors – all of which I consult about different topics. Be very clear about what you want to learn from a mentor and pick people who can help with one or two areas specifically. A fast-growing business requires you to reinvent yourself all the time – so these people are priceless in helping you avoid mistakes and challenging your thinking.

Build an ownership culture

Creating a culture of owners who can reap the benefits of a company’s future success, helps to inspire employees to make the company even bigger and better. Employees feel invested in the mission, the customer, the product and more importantly the future. In March 2017, we rewarded a further 86 employees with share options –  junior staff to executives. At Gousto, we know how important building an ownership culture is –  we even hire specifically for our culture, identifying those who will share certain traits and values.

Adapt as a CEO – grow yourself!

Five years ago, I was an entrepreneur with a business plan, which at that point in time was worth nothing. Whilst passion, positivity and an unwavering can-do attitude helped me to raise investment and build a team, today my journey is totally different. It’s now about finding the best people, delegating responsibility to them, and not micro managing so that I can really focus on strategy, culture and long term vision and mission. As Gousto grows, I’ve had to grow and will continue to do so.

Timo Boldt is the CEO and founder of recipe box company, Gousto

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.