The Skate Ramp is the Proven, ‘Quick’ Path to Scale

The Skate Ramp is the Proven, ‘Quick’ Path to Scale

From the Introduction to Ramping Your Brand 

Every year, I meet more smart and capable entrepreneurs who either set unrealistically fast growth rates or want to grow quickly but struggle to grow fast enough to gain leverage with the trade. Many have a distorted view of what their optimal growth pace should be. This is due, in part, to the lack of transparency around the actual growth rates of new CPG brands and the media’s excessive coverage of unicorns (e.g., Caulipower). 

Another contributing factor is that some CPG founders are influenced by the nearly vertical growth that happens when large public firms launch new brands or product-line extensions. That is definitely not an optimal (or even possible) growth pace for entrepreneurial CPG brands. BigCo’s approach to growth only sets irrational expectations for founders who futilely aim for that kind of trajectory. (Figure 1) No entrepreneurial CPG brand has ever matched the year-one (Y1) pace to scale shown in Figure 1. Not Halo Top. Not Chobani. 

Not Bai. Not Caulipower. Not CORE. No one. Nielsen calls these rare BigCo launches the Sprinters. For today’s CPG entrepreneur, they are simply a mirage. Media-darling, early-stage, unicorn brands do grow slower than the BigCo launch model, but only slightly. These brands reach peak scale in two years instead of one. But that is still unrealistically fast for any founder to contemplate. Much too fast. 

So, how can CPG entrepreneurs set a reasonably fast growth rate?

The fastest growth curve that CPG entrepreneurs can realistically plan to achieve looks like something no brand manager has seen before. This mystery curve is something I call the Skate Ramp. (Figure 2) The Skate Ramp is simply my name for the first half of the Sigmoid curve or S-curve. This graphic representation of sales-volume growth over time is actually not new to business strategists. However, The Hartman Group made waves when it re-awoke everyone’s attention to it in a seminal 2013 industry white paper. 

The Skate Ramp is based on at least doubling sales every year- again and again, and again. If you open a blank Excel worksheet and enter 250,000 in any cell and then double it repeatedly, moving to the right in a series, you will generate a line chart that looks awfully similar to a quarter-pipe ramp at your local skate park. 

If you want a longer excerpt from the Introduction to Ramping Your Brand, it just went live on Startup Confidential a few weeks ago as part of my Audible book production testing.  

Dr. James Richardson

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