Client Case Study
vChief provides chief of staff services to high-growth start-up.
Client: Maxton and Company
Industry: Online retailer and services
CEO: Kishan Madamal
Headquarters: San Francisco, CA
Core challenges: Pace of industry growth and need for increased strategic bandwidth
Client Spotlight: vChief blog
What were the pain points you were facing that made you think you needed a Chief of Staff?
I’m a sole founder. I have team of people I work with and they’re great, but I don’t have someone who is responsible for the same number of things as I am within the business. As in any business, there are certain challenges to my business that are more complex and require someone with a specific type of knowledge or level of experience to handle them effectively. I don’t have time to do everything myself and I can’t always delegate tasks, particularly if their sensitive—for example, finding a health insurance broker. I needed someone who could handle one-off projects that are important to the company, but don’t always fit neatly into any other employee’s role. As just one example, [vChief] Christian helped me when we were thinking about new office space and evaluated everything from real estate brokers to areas of the city to consider. It was one of those contained projects that just didn’t quite fit with anyone else in the company.
How does having a vChief help you as a leader?
Working with Christian frees up my time so that I can spend more time with my direct reports and employees. It’s also nice to have a set of eyes and ears to bounce ideas off of, especially those that are more sensitive or complex.
I liken the Chief of Staff to the role of a “second” in chess. When I was younger, I played chess competitively. The second is a person who advises and helps top-level chess players. Seconds are very good chess players in their own right and as such, they are uniquely qualified to help the top-ranked player work through problems and point out things he or she may not see. A second is there to bounce ideas off of and can help the player learn from past experiences. He or she must be a high-level player to do this, but the role is very different from competing as a top-level player.
Chief of Staff Services Profile
Virtual placement with on-premise meetings as needed
Part-time placement support bandwidth needs
Presentations for Board of Directors
Specific start-up experience to align to growth challenges in fast paced industry
Strategic counsel to CEO
Office relocation budgeting
Lead and participate in strategy sessions
"When you work in a small organization where everyone has their day-to-day responsibilities, there’s not always time or capacity to think about things like R&D. It’s nice for the company to have someone who can do those kinds of things and dive into the complexities and details to see a project through to the finish."
How is Maxton and Company served by having a Chief of Staff?
Christian can tackle things that are outside our regular day-to-day operations, which allows us to invest in and try new things. When you work in a small organization where everyone has their day-to-day responsibilities, there’s not always time or capacity to think about things like R&D. It’s nice for the company to have someone who can do those kinds of things and dive into the complexities and details to see a project through to the finish.
One example of this: We manufacture some of our own products, including our own line of greeting cards, which we sell in box sets. We get these from the printer, but we then need a certain variety of each to be separated into boxed sets. When we were starting out and our orders were smaller, we were doing this manually. But as the business grew, sorting and counting greeting cards manually just wasn’t an option. Christian found a machine for us—a rare type of machine, actually—that can count batches of cards and separate them from a huge stack. He helped us find the machine, secure the deal, and work through the execution. A Chief of Staff can be very helpful as your business scales. As a CEO, you just don’t have time to do all of those little things you may have done when you were just starting out.