Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators
Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators
Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators

Ready to Scale

This section looks at how to visualise and share organisational communication for the stages of readiness and journey to scale, utilising the VIRAL framework. It examines some of the ways you can build resilience and internal capacity to meet the demands of scaling, whilst considering team and partner profiles. It also looks at the different areas that may be demanding your time, and helps you to consider where you put your energy in order to achieve success.

VIRAL: Benchmarking and Readiness for Scaling

The objective of Village Capital’s Venture Investment-Readiness and Awareness Levels (VIRAL) Pathway is to assist businesses to map their journey through different milestones, and help them to reach the higher levels of scale and exit.

The use of generic definitions enables customisation for unique business model alignments, and helps businesses to understand what needs to be done to move to the next level. The framework also informs businesses of the type of funding they need by matching the type of investor to the level of maturity of a business.

Please Note

The VIRAL framework was developed to support entrepreneurs and investors understand the growth pathways of ventures, and draws largely on benchmarks and experiences from the US. As such, if it is being used in different countries / markets / ecosystems some contextualisation is required. The Asian Venture Philanthropy Network have begun an effort to adapt the framework to make it more relevant for the Asia-Pacific region – this can be found here.

While the framework was developed for entrepreneurs and investors, it is also used by incubators and accelerators in a number of ways: 1) It can be used to assist program managers when assessing, supporting ventures, and engaging investors. 2) It can also be used to consider the growth pathway of your organisation, if you think about your programs as products/services.

In both cases, as the content of the framework is not all immediately relevant, we advise that some contextualisation is required.

For entrepreneurs, the framework looks to help:

  • Assess progress
  • Identify key milestones needed to achieve to raise capital for the next round
  • Build a profitable business with a successful exit


For entrepreneur support organisations, the framework looks to help:

  • Identify key milestones needed to achieve in the path to growth and self-sustaining growth
  • Identify priorities
  • Identify and sustain continued streams of revenue

Using the VIRAL Pathway

For each category, identify a definition on the y-axis that suits where your company is currently at.

This will be your level for that category.

For the example above, an early-stage venture should identify their organisation at the lowest VIRAL level – at level 4 or 5, but not 6 because only 3 of their parameters match. The venture should work on stabilizing validating their market and proving a profitable business model rather than work on their customer segments or move beyond early adopters.

For venture support organisations, parameters will be:


Can your team deliver results as it grows? For example, as you grow your team, how does it impact the efficiency, quality, and type of delivered results?

Can your team make the right hires? What risks does the organisation face that requires new team members to be better than the founders at addressing/mitigating? How are you planning to grow beyond the circle of founding senior management?

Does the organisation have the ability to execute on their ambitions to deliver value to entrepreneurs? What are the constraints the team may face? Does the team have the relevant skill sets? Will we need to hire external consultants for some periods of the year for their expertise?



Are you solving a big problem for the ecosystem? Is it possible to make a true dent in the problem? Understand your limits as an entrepreneur support system.

Why will your solution win out over the competition in the next 3-5 years? Is there a differentiation now? What differentiation are you working on?

Does someone on the leadership team or program team have entrepreneurial experience?

What are the top 1- 3 short-term outcomes related to your vision that you need to achieve over the next 12 – 18 months?



What is the specific pain point that you’re solving for your customer?

How are you delivering measurable value to help entrepreneurs grow and scale their business? Should have a correlation between what you are delivering. Direct impact on revenue, metrics, team quality.

Is your solution differentiated enough that target customers will choose it over your competition, thereby giving you the pipeline you want?



What have been the main positive and negative points of feedback from your users so far?

How has your product/programming evolved over time in response to market needs?

What are the gaps on your program team?

Does your product/program have any inherent defensibility?



Do you understand the market opportunity as well as the target customer? Are there enough (target) entrepreneurs in the market?

How do you sell into this market? How do entrepreneurs hear about you?

What other stakeholders do you engage with? How do you get buy-in from them?

What is your positioning in this market? How will this help you capture this market? What is your value/positioning?



How do you sustain yourself?

Are you able to attract donor funding? Why / Why not?

What partnerships do you currently have in place across your value chain? What are the key ones you need to scale up in the next 1 – 3 years?



What is your expansion plan? Are you thinking across geographies?

Are you able to support entrepreneurs as they grow?

Does your product improve/get easier to use with scale?

Is your customer base growing? (month by month? quarterly?)

What’s the right pace of your organisation?

What is the feedback from customers?


As you grow your business, these parameters help you to:

  • Assess your progress
  • Identify key milestones you need to achieve to raise your next round (e.g. donor funding/certain monetisation model/sustainable internal operations)
  • And ultimately, build a growing, profitable business
  • When do you change gear? Before you go up the hill.

Find Your ‘Core’

The ‘core’ of your business is the things that are fundamental to achieving social impact and making the model work in practice. It includes the things that make you unique, the things that are important, and the things that enable you to grow over time.


Unique: Your value proposition

Important: To your key customer priorities

Growing: Over time

To determine the core of your business, ask yourself:

  • What is ‘beyond’ your business?
  • What is in your core that is essential to achieving social impact?
  • In what ways do you build resilience?
  • How can you increase your competitive advantage?


With hard-to-beat partnerships and a strong core, people will see you as a market leader.


Nesta's Standards of Evidence

  • 1.

    Nesta has developed five Standards of Evidence to help social innovators and support providers to improve their impact measurement. They can be useful for providing evidence of the ‘core’ of your business.


    These standards come in five different levels and prompt you to question:

    – Are you managing various stakeholder needs

    – Is this evidence demonstrable?

    – Does your model work in a new market?

    – Pilot evidence against your theory of change

    – Do you have test cases?

    – Do you have winning bids/contracts to deliver work?


    Source: Nesta

People and Partners: Who’s on the Bus?

The people within your organisation, and those who you partner with, are essential to the success of your organisation and its programs. As you scale, these people and partnerships have the potential to build your organisational capacity to grow.

Practical Tip

Make sure to recruit new team members to fill existing roles, so that your current team can move on to lead scaling activity and ensure your existing operation stays viable and focused while you scale.

Alternatively, bring in a new team to replicate and scale in new areas.

Growing Organisational Culture

When growing your organisation, it is important to keep people focused on your core and scaling mission.

You need to focus because you don’t want to scale something different that team hasn’t got anything to build off of, or build something that doesn’t follow your company culture or your values. In the end, you can end up with a different projects happening in different places, and you end up scaling problems rather than scaling real simple, great solutions.

Practical Tip

Develop scaling principles derived from the values, beliefs and behaviours of your organisation. Ask yourself ‘What principles are we using to grow?’ and be sure to enable decisions to be made at all levels.

Build routines for automation, and rituals to keep the team happy and focused on what it is like being part of your organisation.


Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup

  • 1.

    Disciplined Entrepreneurship is a systematic and rigorous 24 steps for building new innovation-based ventures.

  • 2.

    The steps are categorised along 6 sections:


    1. Who is your customer?

    2. What can you do for your customer?

    3. How does your customer acquire your product?

    4. How do you make money off your product?

    5. How do you design and build your product?

    6. How do you scale your business?

  • 3.


  • Village Capital Viral Pathway

    A set of protocols to aid in decision making and build trust in your team

  • Disciplined Entrepreneurship

    A 24 step guide to building new innovation-based ventures

  • Investing in Social Franchising

    Research into the social franchising marketplace by Spring Impact

    View & Download
  • Webinar: Ready to Scale

    A webinar recording from the Frontier Incubators program, delivered by SEA



Pace to Scale

How to know the right pace of growth for your particular program