Why you should be thinking about the Technology Advisory Panel

As the old saying goes “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it”. Successfully scaling a technology business is no different and is fraught with unexpected challenges, decisions, competition, pivots and many other things. Whilst support can come from various networks and forums, one significant tool on the rise is the build-out of Advisory Panels.

What is an Advisory Panel?

For those not in the know, Advisory Panels are a group of hand-picked external advisors who bring experience and expertise that can be an excellent sounding board for key strategic decisions. They are often used to:

  • Open up relationships in new markets – Someone with a strong network in a target market will help you bridge into new market channels, geographies and sectors. Their advice will often help open doors and shape your go-to-market strategy for your expansion goals.
  • Objective Strategic Guidance – Experts who have the experience of the challenges your facing is often invaluable to avoiding mistakes and maximising your resources during periods where efficiency is crucial.
  • Industry Gravitas – Having the backing of well-respected advisors helps raise the organisations profile which helps raise marketing, business development, recruitment, and fundraising efforts.

Where has it worked well?

Look no further than our US counterparts. Often a staple of high-growth businesses, many brands in the US have successfully used them to scale throughout the US but also overseas – notably Hostfully, Firebrand Group, and Facebook to name a few. Research from Endeavour Insight in 2017 recorded that 33% of start-ups now had an advisory panel. Compared to today, those figures have risen to nearly 50%.

Closer to home, both European start-ups and VC firms have also been adopting advisory panels. VC firms Pilabs and Voulez have both announced advisory panels to support portfolio clients in the past 12 months and this has been mirrored across start-ups.

Should you be considering an Advisory Panel?

Ultimately yes. Regardless of the stage you’re at, there will always be a benefit to be gained from surrounding yourself with experienced people, who guide stop you from making mistakes, and can help you open doors.

For Pre-seed and Seed stage, your focus will be on ensuring product-market-fit and developing your MVP. Alongside any accelerator programme support, an Advisor capable of unlocking relationships with early-stage clients and managing through the development phase will be invaluable.

Once at Seed A & B, you may want to consider advisors who have excellent standing within your target markets who can both open doors, but also act as a beacon of trust and credibility for you. They will also be a great attraction for future talent and may also support you on building out the right hiring plan.

When is the right time?

There is no bad time, but better times tend to gravitate around key milestones in the business. It is best to have the advisors in place beforehand, so that they can help guide you through. This could be key fund rounds, international expansion or major pivots.

How do you build a strong Advisory Panel?

Firstly, it is worth exploring your existing network. There will undoubtedly be high-caliber people that you know and trust with such an important role. Your investors may also be able to support on names, or may have their own Advisory Panel that you can tap into. You can also look externally for support either directly or through a search firm. Ideally, you want to find a business who is able to introduce a broad range of experienced individuals who are credible, reputable and that can add value. Using an external advisor to support you on the build-out to ensure a diverse range of opinions can have its merits.

Overall, if you want your business to continue scaling, and have not yet considered an advisory panel, start thinking about one. And if you’re unsure whether to start we’re always happy to help.

Beaumont Bailey is an executive search and leadership advisory firm who recruit executive, leadership and advisory roles. With practices covering industrial, property, investment and technology, Beaumont Bailey help bridge the gap between traditional industry and emerging businesses through a consultative, personable and detailed style.