Startup Teams: How to build them brilliantly

Building the perfect Startup Team

All these topics and more are covered in this week’s show plus read the show notes below.
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This weeks ‘Disruptive Entrepreneur’ Building Your Business Show notes:

The Kipling and Kirby Ventures Disruptive Entrepreneur Series Episode #31 ‘Building Your Business’ Part 11 : The Team – Building the perfect Startup team

The Team

We have covered some of this before, but how important is it to build the right team?

It’s incredibly important, the team is the vehicle you use to execute your business plan and turn your idea into a business. Assembling the right team is an essential part of the process. A poorly managed and assembled team lowers the chances of having a successful company

The team is important, what role should the founder play?

I like to use the analogy of being captain of a ship. The founder, who typically takes the role of CEO, should be in a position of ‘steering the ship’ and being able to effectively co-ordinate all the important activities going on.

So what if I’m not a good leader? Do I still have to lead my team because it’s my company?

We all have to play to our best strengths, perhaps you might be better suited to a product development, sales or marketing role and another leadership candidate. Fill the team roles not based ability to do that role.

Do we go for a mix of experience or build a team around people we trust?

It has to be a good mix, experience counts for a lot, however from a startup perspective this can be expensive, but weigh this properly. An experienced sales person hired for just a few days can make a bigger impact than an inexperienced salesperson working full time, balance your team with a mix of inexperienced, but enthusiasm and more expensive effective team members. Focus on getting the best people to execute your business plan, and not just starting a company with your friends.

Where can we find the ideal team members?

These days we are more hyper connected than ever, and the ability to connect and contact people is more dynamic than ever. Don’t be afraid to approach others for advice in a certain industry if you are trying to find team members for. Network and connect with people, offline at industry meetups is a great way to do this. Immerse yourself in the industry your startup is part of and find people that way. Don’t discount friends and family members who may know people in certain industries.

Should we be afraid of approaching people with more experience than ourselves?

It’s the old adage, if we do not ask we do not get . If you have identified an experienced potential team member you are seeing that you believe would not be interested, ask for advice or help. The worse they can say is no, there have been many occasions when these people may point you to someone great, or even join your startup

How do we work out the team dynamic and equity stakes?

The temptation here is to award large percentages of equity to the team. The problem arises when team members leave. Ensure you have a solid shareholder agreement in place. I am an advocate of using a option to incentivize team members to perform. Use milestones such as technical achievements or time spent in the company to award employees shares. This way, the more they do for the company, the more shares they earn. Those who perform get to enjoy the rewards and those who don’t don’t get the equity.

Are there any things we should avoid when building a team?

Avoid building a team with your friends, it’s a business, not a social club. This can lead to issues when people do things wrong, or get promoted.

Don’t promote to high positions too soon, often you will hire a junior developer, who early on becomes the CTO. this is often a position that they are not able to do yet. At some point you will have to bring someone in to manage them, but to do this, you would have to fire or demote them. Fill the senior positions at a later date

What do investors look for when building a team?

Investors look for a varied and capable team, who has the background, talent and ability to be able to execute on the business plan

Al’s Final thought: ‘Good fences make good neighbours’ – Robert Frost

Note: Each week, Kipling & Kirby Ventures, the Startup Incubator that TepFu founder Al Tepper co-founded with Simon Barry, publishes a podcast (The Disruptive Entrepreneur) and currently we have two parts each week: The Weekly News & The Building Your Business Series. We will post the show notes after each show in iTunes of course but I shall also publish them here. Do listen and subscribe. It’s cracking value.

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