To the outsider, we’re in the market for great ideas but what we’re really in the market for is great talent.

Talent is what drives the world of startups and precisely what this blogpost will cover. If you’re an emerging market founder or someone who invests in emerging market founders looking to go global, this is your insight into the framework we use to identify what great talent is, where it can be found, and the paradigm shifts that talented people have to undergo in order to go global.


Talent takes the cake

In our previous blog we spoke about great founders being great leaders and how to become one. We also spoke about the world being in a state of transition and the opportunity that it provides for great founders to leverage this transition. Great founders, naturally, have to be talented and we mentioned “intelligent grit” as being one of the more defining traits of a great founder.

Building on our past blog, we believe that intelligent grit is a manifestation of talent, perhaps even one of the ways in which we can make sense of what talent is. And when defined in this manner, it becomes much easier to understand why talent is so important right now. As people and economies continue to evolve, founders with great talent are expected to take on the next few decades of change and shape the way we live. From health and well-being to mobility and movement, problem solving is democratized; it’s now a matter of who can do it better and faster. This is why talent has become the currency of the startup world and this mindset is reflected in how the world opens itself up to great founders. Even developed countries with usually strict immigration policies now incentivize and encourage outside talent. On a policy level and on a socio-economic level, talent is valued.


The top 4%

So who do we consider talent? We know from working in an emerging market that these are ripe for founder talent and we’ve taken a framework approach to identifying it and nurturing it. Borrowing from the pareto principle, we believe that 80% of talent is concentrated in the top 20% founders of each ecosystem. We slice the 20% into another 80-20 breakup and take it a step further in a manner that we call “The Talent Pyramid” as shown below:


The above pyramid visualizes our framework: the top 4% of founders (80% of the top 20% founders) in an ecosystem represent 64% of the talent (80% of the top 80% talent); most of the talent is concentrated into a small percentage of great founders.

We apply the same framework to the founder ecosystem in Pakistan; these are the founders we’re looking for i.e. the top 1-4% of founders in the Pakistani ecosystem.

That is to say, we at ScaleX take founders who are near the 4th percentile, and we nourish and elevate them up to the top 1 percentile.


The Emerging Market Talent

Touching upon where this talent can be found, our thesis also states that talented founders in an emerging market are much more accessible than those in a developed market. Where talent is already valued and subsequently nurtured, founders become harder to access.

Emerging markets on the other hand are still learning how to value and nurture their talent – some of this can be attributed to structural disadvantages. In this scenario, talented founders are not only easier to access but they are in turn hungrier for opportunity. This is where we as an accelerator come in and like to believe that we’re in the business for “talent arbitrage” as we elevate emerging market founders onto the global stage.


The Paradigm Shift

But what do we mean when we talk about the “global stage”? The framework we’ve used above in this blog can be applied to multiple economic systems across the world; we’ve broken these into three separate talent pyramids: less developed, developing, and developed economies. Those who are in a less developed country might be in the top 4% in their country’s talent pyramid but may not be in the top 4% in a developed country’s talent pyramid. And while we believe in inherent talent, we also think that much of talent is acquired and then polished, so developed economies with structural advantages and grooming will naturally have greater founder talent.

As an accelerator, we’re helping our 1-4% of top talent evolve from making linear shifts within their pyramid to making horizontal ones, from one pyramid to the other. We believe that this requires a paradigm shift as well as structural shifts; this is what we mean by going global. We’ve visualized this concept below:



Closing Note

This was our framework-oriented approach to all things talent. As a closing note, we’ll mention why we wrote this blog. Firstly, we’re highly cognizant that we have our work cut out for us and wanted to communicate our clarity on the opportunity and the challenge set we face. Secondly, and more importantly, we hope that the founder eco-system will understand that simply launching a startup is not good enough and to really make a paradigm shift, they must present evidence that they lie in the top 1-4%. Once there, we are equipped to help them overcome their structural disadvantages and consequently thrive in global markets.