What can a man in a bowtie and cowboy boots teach you about scaling business ventures? The answer – when that man is M-CAM founder David Martin – is pretty much everything, and that the key to success lies in authenticity. In a fireside discussion at TechWadi’s Annual Conference with longtime friend and Chairman Emeritus of Sarhank Group for Investments Moutapha Sarhank, Martin explains that while everyone is running in one direction chasing an idea or business model, there’s a likely scalable venture lurking in that vacant spot.
“Growth is about understanding opportunity,” says Martin, who believes that thinking bigger sometimes involves going against the grain of traditional business models and behaviors in order to tap into a unique value proposition, and deliver scalable results. Martin’s company has worked in over 160 countries, with clients from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to the Dubai International Financial Exchange. Martin’s recipe for success lies in these five critical factors that are necessary in any business junction to achieve scale:
- Transparency and knowledge exchange
- Risk and benefit sharing (enterprise, community, and capacity building)
- Local resource recruitment
- Strategic resource alignment (academics, civil society, offsets)
- On-the-ground accountability
The Sarhank Group, which brought in roughly $3.2 billion in 2010, has followed Martin’s principles closely, funneling its expertise in war gaming command and control communications, a lucrative opportunity was found in the line of communications when the war space was swamped with arms specialists. The Sarhank Group has invested in a diverse portfolio of ventures, including technology companies that were bought by IBM in 2007. Sarhank prides his work on being grounded in genuinity, accountability, and trust. The problem with business today in Sarhank’s eyes? While ethics should be at the epicenter of all business transactions, it’s often nowhere to be found.
Martin and Sarhank both possess a unique entrepreneurial business mind that has allowed them to scale their businesses and achieve the success they’ve reached today. We need to change how we think about the ecosystems that we operate in, Martin believes, by pivoting our brain, we can pivot opportunity. And as Sarhank reminds us: believe in yourself, and in everything around you, have faith. It’s the only way to sustain, and ultimately scale.