June 14th 2022
Scaleup Diaries, Ifty Nasir

On this week’s episode of the Scaleup Diaries, Alan was joined by Ifty Nasir, founder and CEO of Vestd.

Vestd is a share scheme and equity management platform that helps support founders understand equity. When Ifty was first setting up Vestd, a big part of his research was centred around understanding the challenges and pains that early-stage founders were facing, and despite funding being a big time-drain for a lot of founders, he quickly realised that sharing and understanding equity was an area that a lot of people didn’t fully understand.

Over time, Vestd has grown into a SaaS platform all about equity expertise and is trusted by thousands of scaling founders.

To listen to the podcast in full click here.

From scaling a remote team, to understanding equity, here are our key takeaways:

How to scale a remote team

Ifty and his team made the decision to go 100% remote back in 2018.

The lengthy commute in and out of London was a drain on both time and money- and the cost of an office seemed sky-high considering the team would plug themselves into their screens and headphones when they arrived anyway.

So, after slowly scaling back their in-person working, Vestd finally ditched the office on March 1st, 2020- a good move considering weeks later the world was plunged into lockdown.

Unlike many other leaders who were uncertain about how and if they could lead a remote team, Ifty was prepared and ready to scale.


It’s no secret that there are certain challenges to scaling a remote team. But Ifty is a firm believer that the switch can’t just be that everyone stops coming into the office and now you’re a remote business, the remote aspect has to be core to all your business decisions.

You have to ‘do it deliberately, so it’s built to be remote and everything you structure is all with the intent of building human interaction that allows relationships and collaboration.’

Widen your talent net

Many companies are now swimming in talent since making the switch to remote. Ifty and his team experienced this first-hand when they were able to start recruiting people from outside the confines of London.

This allows you to attract the best of the best talent, not just the best of the nearby talent- whilst also exposing your scaleup to a more diverse talent pool.

Always prioritise communication

Its easy to feel disconnected from a team you have never met.

Ifty’s advice? Don’t wait around until you have structured meetings to talk to each other. Use programmes like Slack or Zoom to keep everyone in the loop across video calls and messages.

Prioritise communication across all areas of the business. As well as impromptu/ad-hoc conversations, also make room for regular meetings that remain the same each week.

Vestd have a meeting every Monday and Friday; team stand-ups designed to make space for the team to connect on a human-level, encouraging them to talk about their weekends etc.

On Fridays the team splits into smaller groups and talk about the wins of the week. Every meeting, including the coffee morning catchups are designed to help grow the business.

If there’s a possibility for in-person interaction, go for it!

Even a remote-first team can benefit from meeting up once in a while. Vestd have 2 retreats a year where the team all comes together from around the world.

The first of these retreats happened before covid in Brighton, where Ifty was joined by all 14 members of his team. Just 2 years later, Ifty found himself getting emotional when surrounded by over 50 employees all talking and laughing- with engineers from India, Scotland, and Wales.

When you’re scaling a remote team, hiring, and onboarding through a screen, it can be a shock to the system when you finally all come together in one place. What was once 20 small boxes on your laptop screen are now 20 living, breathing, laughing people stood in front of you.

Team retreats are the perfect way to get everyone on the same page, align your goals/values and keep the business moving forwards.

And when the business part of the day is done, the fun part can begin!

How to make good hires

It all starts with the job advert.

It’s important that people are able to realise the true nature of your business through your job advert.

At Vestd, the initial 12 hires helped to craft the company values together: trust, collaboration, autonomy, purpose, recognition, and diligence.

Your values need to be more than words on an advert, they are the backbone of your business and should be relevant to all areas of the business.

Hiring people who align with these values will be crucial to the growth of your business. Give people a reason to root for your company- whether that’s a core mission, a business goal etc., people want to believe that what they’re doing is meaningful.

Working at a startup comes with certain challenges, so you have to believe that what you’re building is relevant to your time.

Get your team involved

You should feel comfortable enough with your team that you can get them involved in the interview process.

Every business is about the team that makes it, so have an open conversation with any potential hires about who you are and what you do.

It’s easy to get caught up in the job hunt and find your eyes jumping to the number at the bottom of the page, but you need to fundamentally believe that what you’re offering is more than a salary.

How to motivate and retain your employees

Your first employees ‘who walk alongside you in those early days are absolute gold dust- so many risks, so much uncertainty. They did that journey when it was very tough. Treat them well.’

It’s unlikely they joined you for money- people don’t join startups for money, there’s more to it than that.

At Vestd, it’s only natural that each employee who joins is offered an equity cut, but for a lot of founders, they don’t know the ins and outs of employee equity.

Vestd have just setup a free equity calculator to help break down early equity distribution- ‘having an equity component in the reward is key, but if you don’t know what it’s worth, it’s almost irrelevant!’

Anyone joining a startup is taking a risk. But this risk lessens the more you scale- so the equity should match this.

But equity isn’t the only way to motivate your team- instead think about what measures you can put in place to nurture your talent.

Nurture your existing talent

You might not always have the inhouse skills for certain projects. But where you have the time and tools, it’s always good to develop the talent you have rather than pinning all your hopes on the talent you need to find.

People may join you to work in areas they are less familiar with, but they will bring their own skills with them, give them the opportunity to grow with your business.

‘We want people to benefit from what they’ve helped to create.’

Personal development is key to retention. Understanding and helping your team develop on a technical and personal level is essential. Very few people stay in the same roles for a long time, it’s in our nature to always be looking forward at what’s next.

And as you scale it’s inevitable that you’ll lose people you value, but it’s worth it if you’ve both benefitted from each other’s growth along the way.

Thoughts for first-time founders

We asked Ifty for any advice he has for first-time founders:

‘It’s a cliché but you’ll spend 10x as much as you think, and it’ll take 10x longer than you think… don’t think for one moment that you can do it all yourself, or that you’re the only person that matters in the success of the business.

Over time you need to make sure that you keep testing yourself and make sure that the voices you have brought into the room are actually being heard. It’s so easy not to, but you brought these people into the room for a reason, are they able to make that contribution that you’ve brought them in for?’

If people don’t expect their voice to be heard, they will see little value in staying. Look for people who have the hunger and the desire to be part of your business, and then watch your business grow alongside them.

To listen to the podcast in full, click here.

We’d love you to be our next guest on our Scaleup Diaries series. If you’re a startup founder looking to share your story, contact Alan Furley at alan@isltalent.com to find out more.

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