By: Ron Miller. Source: TechCrunch
Whenever you think of startups, you very likely think of young people brimming with ideas sitting in garages and dorm rooms and solving problems with technology. We are conditioned in a way to consider the idea even over the person who came up with it, but after listening to entrepreneurs, I’ve come to learn, it’s not about the quality of the product idea or even the founders, it’s about the team that grows with the company because if that’s not right, the nascent company probably won’t succeed.
A company is typically founded by one or a few committed people who carry their vision forward to create some kind of product: an Apple computer, Amazon.com, eBay, Facebook or Salesforce.com. All of these companies had one or more people who had the vision and the commitment to see it through to success.They all have great backstories about how they came to be (even if some of them like eBay’s PEZ dispenser story probably aren’t true.)
After that initial burst of founding energy, it takes hard work to define and articulate a vision to employees who come on board afterward. The founders have to find a way to set goals, even with the understanding that the target is always going to be moving and they have adjust as they go along.
Susie Kim Riley, a serial entrepreneur who has started several successful companies says forming the right core team is absolutely crucial. At a talk at the Boston TechJam last month, she likened it to a military operation. “My colleagues would be jet lagged, food deprived, sleep deprived –and they would have a meeting. You have to perform,” she says
“Imagine you’re a marine. Be on top of your game. You’re on a mission and a lot of times it’s like a battle, but with the right team and the right beliefs you are going to get through it,” she said.
Uwe Horstmann, co-founder and managing director at Project A Ventures in Berlin says finding the right people beyond that core founder group is even more crucial because it’s one thing to form that core team, but it’s another to begin to articulate a vision to newer people as they join the company. “One of the core qualities that we look for in founders is his ability to articulate and communicate a vision for the company well. It sounds trivial, but it really isn’t,” he said.
He added, “It requires a lot of empathy to take a step back and think through how this closely knit culture might feel to someone who just joined. There’s always an inner circle, the first employees, highest up in the food chain, closest to the founders, who are well-informed and on board, but you really want to have everyone involved, engaged and fired up to maximize output –and to create a great place to work,” Horstmann explained.
Kristina Prokop, a co-founder at Berlin startup, Eyeota, one of the companies being funded by Project A explained her 4-year-old company is up to 20 people right now, and they are in the process of hiring more employees. As part of that process, she and her fellow co-founders are meeting to define the mission of their company, so these new employees can clearly understand and execute it.