Building a Startup Team: The Sooner The Better

Great Startup TeamHave you heard of founderitis? It's a disease found in startup founders and the most common symptom is a fear of losing control over one's startup. The result is that the entrepreneur tries to don multiple hats and do a lot of different activities, rather than building the right team for his startup. Of course, building a team for a startup has its own challenges and it takes some time to create a good team, but the sooner you create a good startup team the better become the chances of the success of your startup. Let's see how you can go about creating a good startup team and some important aspects of a good team.

What makes a good startup team

Let us first see what are the different entrepreneurial personae required at the minimum for running a startup. They are as follows:

  • Visionary - He is the person who is good in identifying a problem and able to find the right people and communicate with them to solve that problem. This problem could be the one that gave rise to the main idea the startup pursues or it could be one of the day to day problems that require to be identified and solved to keep the startup running towards its success.
  • Technologist - It doesn't really matter if the startup is a technology startup or not, you need someone who understands technology. Someone who is not afraid of using technology or looking out for new technologies.
  • Marketer - You need someone who is good in selling, it could be selling your product to the customers or selling your idea to potential collaborators, partners etc.

Though an ideal team would have one person dedicated to each of these roles but practically it becomes very difficult to have such a team. A lot of other combinations are also possible, for example someone in the team handling more than one role or two people sharing skills for the same role etc. In any case, a good startup team must have 2 to 3 co-founders with the abovementioned skills present within these people in a bit non-skewed manner. Less than 2 and more than 3 co-founders should normally be avoided.

Creating the startup team

The first thing to create such a team is that the present founder or co-founders do a thorough assessment of their own skills including one's experience and personal traits. Then try to find other co-founders for the missing skills (Read: How To Find A Technical Co-founder For Your Startup, the techniques can be applied to find a co-founder in other domain also). You can go about finding a co-founder starting from your own network and some other areas as discussed in the mentined blog. Though, It is always desirable to get these skills as a part of the core startup team, it is not an easy job to find a co-founder quickly, as it involves a lot of personal compatibility. So, you might have to spend quite some time without having the perfect combination of co-founders with all the complementary skills. What to do during that period?

Alternatives for the missing skills

If you can't find a co-founder, try to explore the possibility of bringing someone in the team with a title as CTO or CMO. The upside of this arrangement is that it might not require a very high level of personal compatibility, which is very difficult to find. But the downside is that it normally requires a monthly compensation, though negotiable through equity-sharing terms etc. with the new joinee. You can also approach people who are already in some other job or a startup and offer them to work part time for you startup as a CTO or CMO. There are some companies which provide professionals with such skills for a given period of time also. You can use these options to go ahead until you find a co-founder or a person ready to work with you for a long term.

If you are not able to get someone in any of the above ways then at least try to find someone with the desired skills, who can be your adviser or mentor. Sometimes these people might come even at no cost as they love to work with startups. Otherwise offering a very nominal equity is sufficient to get someone for the role of an advisor or mentor. But in this case don't expect high commitment in terms of time devotion etc. And you'll have to rely upon yourself or by someone else for doing the execution based on their advice.

You can use these techniques not only to bring in the skill mentioned above, but for anything else that you deem necessary for your startup. And once the core team is set-up, it becomes easier to grow the team as and when required by hiring people on full-time or part-time basis. In fact you don't always have to hire people for every need; you can also explore outsourcing a job to freelancers or other companies providing the required services. This is more relevant when the job is just a one time job or occurs at a low frequency.


Roshni Baronia's picture
very crisp and realistic article...truly understanding all the aspects of the situation a startup faces.
Nilesh J Sompura's picture
Very Practical solution......Nice!
Nilesh J Sompura's picture
Very Practical solution......Nice!
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