How to Scale a Startup to 50 Employees Without Losing Its Culture

Here are the critical steps you need to make at each stage of your company’s early growth

Joe Procopio
Published in
7 min readSep 2, 2019


Photo: cokada/Getty Images

One of the most underrated secrets of success in a startup is the ability to build not just a great product, but a great company.

The dynamics are totally intertwined. A startup can’t become a success without building a great product, no matter how awesome the company is. And a startup can’t sustain success without fostering great company culture, no matter how excellent the product is.

Great companies happen on purpose, their culture molded by a proactive leadership team from the earliest stages, and then managed by every single employee, every day. When either of those two responsibilities become lip service, the company begins to lose its luster, and the inevitable downfall begins.

Furthermore, you can’t do one without the other. They have to happen in parallel. This means that you have to invest in the company culture while you spend the vast majority of your time and resources building the killer product.

So how do you do that during each stage of your company?

The critical hiring stage: Employees one through 10

The first 10 people you bring onboard will dictate the company culture for the next 20 to 50. I can’t overstate the importance of getting these hires 100% right. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the road to success is littered with companies that couldn’t find 10 critical hires.

By critical hire, I simply mean: Do they exude the vision you have for your company? And not just now, but will they continue to contribute toward your mission for the next three or five years? Are they going to grow with you or are they going to get left behind when the tornado hits?

Some common mistakes founders often make early: Representing your vision doesn’t mean being like you. A company made up of 10 me’s would fail spectacularly. I need people who are different than me and better than me.

Also, never let culture trump talent, but one thing I won’t do is work with someone who I don’t believe is a good person. I…



Joe Procopio
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I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building & GROWERS. Write at and More at