Aura Ryan Green Kramerville Johannesburg 17 March 2021 Photograph: John Hogg
Turning a lightbulb moment into a workable strategy and transforming concepts into concrete plans, especially within a startup, requires a blend of big picture thinking and an eye for detail that comes from a skilled operational approach.
When we started AURA back in 2017, Warren who originally had the idea for the business, was the natural CEO. Someone needed to turn this idea and strategy into reality, and I organically found myself taking the lead on the operations side of AURA.
Since those early roles were established, we have managed to allow each other to focus on where we add the most value within the business. This I believe has been one key ingredient that has allowed us to grow and scale as quickly and effectively as we have.
In AURA’s early days, the operations role was centred around creating product market fit, ensuring the solution did as suggested, and consistently delivered.
Since scaling to operate in several other markets, my day-to-day focus is now on laying similar foundations to seamlessly replicate AURA’s ecosystem and operations so that we can operate and scale in any market we enter whilst remaining aligned to our overall strategy and vision and also in turning tech ideas into reality.
Ops in a platform ecosystem
The operations role tends to function differently in a platform business than it does in so-called traditional businesses in that there are several key stakeholders that make up the platform ecosystem.
In AURA’s case, we have customers in the form of our B2B partners and end-users, those that actually subscribe to and use our service as well as our security and medical response service providers.
The goal within AURA’s platform ecosystem is to create a win-win-win for each of these parties on a constant basis. Maintaining this equilibrium is what I believe makes operations in platform businesses unique from other entities as you consciously and continuously have to put yourself in the shoes of these various stakeholders to try to understand their ever changing requirements.
Detailed vs. perfect
Startup platform COOs should be very detailed and have the desire, grit and ability to understand how everything within the business works at all levels in order to effectively guide the broader team through the requirements, timelines and challenges that will inevitably arise.
To be successful in operations, leaders must remain cool and calm, with an ability to sift through the daily noise and choose where to focus valuable time and attention.
Most natural ops people can get sucked into things being perfect, rather than being complete, which can be detrimental in a startup environment.
A solution with an impact
AURA’s expansion into new markets across the globe is incredibly exciting. Seeing our platform save someone’s life is by far the most gratifying aspect of the role.
When someone puts their trust in AURA to help them in their time of need, and to see all the elements of the platform and the hard work of the various teams come together in perfect harmony is hugely rewarding.