I'm a single man non-technical founder. Its a lean startup, and we're doing some killer customer development.
A great team looks like this
- 2 full stack engineers. They can manage servers, security, build features and code front end JS/interactions.
- 1 visual designer focused on product, information architecture, UX and flows.
- 1 front end developer who can take designs and built out killer interactions and can wireup any back end code to the UI
The CEO can manage product + customer development and everyone on the team does support.
That's 5 people and can accomplish a lot!
Give a Google of "talent triangle". I have found that the majority of successful start ups have people with: Business acumen, domain knowledge and operational experience. E.g. (reverse order) someone who understands how to build it, someone who understands what customers want and someone who can help execute. A hacker, a designer and a hustler.
Of those three corners in the talent triangle what are you weakest on? Let that guide you.
First, congratulations on giving this important topic some consideration before you find out that your team of 20 don't get along or work productively together!
Building a strong team and determining your talent requirements share one thing in common: clear objectives.
Before you post your first job ad or interview your first candidate, it's imperative to be clear on your company's vision and values. This is as critical a metric for team building as determining what skills you need. You may be successful in hiring skilled and experienced people, but if they don't work well as a team, if they don't respect one another, if they don't challenge each other to grow and get better or support each other when times get tough, then the business doesn't move forward (or worse). Be clear about what you see the company becoming, what core values & guiding principles you expect from yourself and your team, and hire those who demonstrate the greatest passion and humility. This will create a solid environment for amazing teamwork to thrive.
To determine what kind of talent you need, start from the 'top down', not 'bottom up'. Focus on your business goals and objectives first. Creating an org chart and cobbling together individual job descriptions based on your current needs may meet your immediate requirements to get work done, but it may not be scalable, or your resources may not be properly allocated. Think ahead as best you can to ensure that everything that everyone does is working toward achieving your goals and objectives.
I would welcome a call if you would like to talk further, but in the meantime here's a link to a recent eBook I wrote on team building. I hope all of this has been of some help!
+1 to Dan Martell's answer. Ideally, get yourself a tech cofounder ASAP. Finding the right one is incredibly difficult and frustrating, but critical to your success. You may also need to pre-sell or pay some odeskers to build the MVP in order to convince a tech cofounder to join.
After that, the next person should either be a second engineer (if you're b2b and/or have a complex product) or a designer (if you're b2c). You get more chances to convert a b2b customer if the functionality is there, not so b2c.
As CEO, you should be the one selling it. Don't even think about hiring salespeople or marketers until you have product market fit.
There are several valuable, practical, and actionable viewpoints offered already. I'll bring a bit more of a long view to the broader question of team building, and suggest some references / best practices that have been incredibly helpful to me repeatedly over several decades.
Startups have a lot of unknowns and a lot of raw talent that is learning along the way. There is a predisposition toward trial and error, when often, in the end, it's easier and less risky to invest your time in understanding best practices and adopt what fits, leaving out what does not fit.
On this thread, Glenn Nishimura posted: "… it's imperative to be clear on your company's vision and values." Former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner said, "I came to see in my time at IBM that culture isn't just one aspect of the game – it is the game." Defining the Culture explicitly, which includes Vision and Values, is the next step after having a great idea. To learn enough about this to do it well, check out:
1. 15 minute TEDtalk by Simon Sinek essentially on Vision and Values - WHY, How, What.
If this resonates with you, drill into his body of work, including his book "Start with Why" or his website http://www.startwithwhy.com
2. Book - Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge (1990 & revised 2006). I read it when it came out and have re-read it about 5 times. It's a great handbook for "programming" a culture that can learn and adapt well because it looks at the context, problems and challenges, from a system theory viewpoint, to invite reflection and response, rather than reaction.
The people and talent you'll need will depend of course on your situation, but there are some guidelines or generalizations based on studies from the lifecycle of a business. The thought leader in this area is UCLA's Anderson School professor Ichak Adizes.
I first read his book in the 1982 and have used it since to figure out what roles are needed and how they evolve at the various very early stages. The website is geared more toward large companies, but if you just study his introductory points, you'll see how applicable it is to startups. Indeed, Dan Martell's post suggesting a certain "great team" is supported by the Adizes' thinking.
To gain a preview of coming attractions of the startup journey and some great practices along the way, I recommend the story of 37Signals.com in the book "ReWork" by its founder, Seth Godin.
To get into the head of an entrepreneur and the emotions, vision, and delusions, as well as to see a great example of "prototyping" I suggest the enjoyable film "Tucker, the Man and His Dream".
I hope you find this helpful.
I have backed many startups. A successful lean team usually has a visionary, a practical person, a sales person and a money person-complementary skills. Decide which of those you are and work from there. If you would like to discuss this further please feel free to keep in touch.
My experience is based on my industry (retail/restaurant), but many of the principles are the same.
1. It may sound overly obvious, but it cannot be overstated - hiring is critical. You need to determine the role the person(s) will fulfill and then be very systematic in hiring. An accurate application process, interview, second and third interview and follow up must be done.
2. To attract the person(s) you want is more than who they are, it is also who you are. If you don't have a strong and positive image (it may be small at this point, but you still deal with people), create systems, benchmarks and followup on insuring that hires meet their goals, all your work is in vain.
3. Be a company that connects with your community and is a positive influence in your sphere.
4. You should make your need known. Not needy, but if you don't tell people, you'll never know who might have connected with you.
5. Finally, other factors.
a. Pay – not necessarily the most important item, but if the amount of pay and the employee’s needs don’t come close, the relationship will be short-lived.
b. Benefits – many small businesses cannot afford major benefits (health insurance, paid vacation, etc.) but even small benefits are valued.
c. Lifestyle – scheduling, job function and atmosphere should mesh with an employee’s personality.
d. Advancement – responsibilities will enable people to grow in their job.
e. Passion – find and connect with people passionate about your product.
I hope that helps!
I see very long ansers bu here the the solution is simple, really: hire somebody with a HR background, probably with a degree in philosophy, social scineces or psychology and an extensive network of professionals in the required field.
You want a Technical Advisor first, and a CTO second.
The rest is really none of your business as a CEO.
In my opinion, you find a capable CTO, make him responsible of product development and leave it at that.
In many cases where technology is shallow you might not even need a CTO.
But hiring people before you have a Tech Advisor, who can answer your question in detail with understanding of your specifics, is likely going to create problems.
Last but not least, I believe the recipe in the first answer is far off the mark: two full stack engineers, one UX and one front end is way too much for most startups - if not all -, you'd be bleeding equity or money for no good reason.
Building a successful tech company without a great team is next to impossible. A great team is made up of a diverse set of individuals, with expertise in their individual area who work together for the good of the enterprise. But building great teams in start-ups is difficult. Start-ups are not well funded, often they can’t pay employees market value (or anything), they are considered high risk, they don’t offer great (or even any) employee benefits, they are not well-known entities, the culture may not be established, there may be no company vision to shoot at and you, as CEO, may not have cross-functional management experience to even know what you are looking for. Plus, there is great competition for key talent from other start-ups or even larger companies that are currently hot in your geography. So, attracting great talent requires knowledge, skill and even luck. Here are 15 keys to building the killer team you need:
1. Vision: Developing and communicating a company vision can have profound impact on your ability to recruit talent. Talented people often are looking for a company that has a strong and well-laid out future. A realistic and compelling vision for your company helps with this. A strong and believable vision can help overcome some of the issues that cause early stage companies to not attract talent.
2. Culture: Can you articulate the kind of company that you want? Do you know your values? Talented people also gravitate to companies that have cultures that match their values. They don’ It is important to hire for culture as well as talent. Entrepreneurs need to define what values are important to them and communicate that culture and those values constantly. Hiring for talent at the expense of cultural fit will disrupt your company’s success.
3. Roles: You need to clearly articulate roles and responsibilities. While this appears obvious, it is rarely done. What is the role (or what are the roles) that you want the person to have? What expectations of performance do you have in what time frames? How do you see the role evolving over time (and what time)? How does this role interact with the other roles in the organization? How will decisions be made? How will conflicts be resolved?
4. Storytelling: Storytelling is also critical to building a great team. We already covered the idea that getting top-notch people to join your start-up is difficult due to lack of resources, lack of market presence, risk, and the fact that there is great competition for great talent. The way most entrepreneurs build great teams is with great storytelling…or sales skills. You need to convince these talented people to join you and not some other better known and/or better funded organization. Articulating the above vision for where you are going, the culture that they should want to join, and a story that they want to be part of takes skill and passion. Remember that a great product is simply a prerequisite for a great company. It does not make a great company.
5. Employee Value Proposition: Just like your business needs a value proposition for its customers, your employees need a value proposition for why they should work in your company. Your EVP should be defined by the kind of people you are looking for, the kind of company you are creating, your vision of success and what the benefits of working for your company are.
6. Interviewing: Interviewing for talent is difficult. You will need to develop and hone a good list of interview questions that will let you carefully select key team members that match your skill and cultural requirements. Interviews tend to be superficial. You will need to learn to better delve into depth to get past this. Even then, it is not uncommon to have half of your team hires not work out. Hire slowly (but don’t lose candidates through analysis paralysis) and fire quickly.
7. Onboarding: One of the most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make is failing to properly onboard key hires with respect to roles, responsibilities, culture, performance expectations and overall company vision. Without proper training and solid employee communications you are leaving success to chance.
8. Communications: There is perhaps nothing more important than honest, straightforward communications between you and your team and the team members themselves. The saying goes “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” It is essential that you over-communicate vision, culture, objectives, metrics, strategy, tactics, feedback, and anything else that will drive your success
9. Setting metrics and holding people accountable: The above-referenced storytelling does not get you to the finish line without quantifiable metrics that you hold yourself and your company accountable for. Knowing the important metrics that will drive your company’s value is critical and assigning responsibilities to people to achieve those metrics is essential. There is no sense in setting metrics if people are not held accountable for achieving them. Accountability needs clear goal and metrics setting with specific time frames. Constant review of progress is required. Also, it is critical to know what you are going to do if metrics and goals are not achieved.
10. Trust and Respect: Attracting and keeping talent requires you to build and maintain mutual trust and respect. The trust and respect must be between you and the employee but also between the members of the management team. Trust must be earned by you and the team members. It is essential to provide guidance as to how that trust will be earned and discuss this on a regular basis. As the saying goes “Trust takes a long time to build but can be destroyed instantly.” Once trust is violated, it takes a long time to re-establish.
11. Listening to Team Members: You will not always agree with every team member. But hearing out their thoughts and opinions is essential. In the end, you need to make the decisions that you believe to be right. If these decisions go against the input from team members, it is important for you to explain why you are doing what you are doing, what metrics and time frames you will use to measure whether the decision is the right one and even an alternative plan if the decision does not work out. It is essential that you get the team members to back your decision under the above circumstances.
12. Compensation: Compensation in an early stage company can be tricky. You may not have sufficient cash to pay for the talent you really require. In this case, you need to balance cash with equity. This is where a 409A valuation comes into play. Establishing a true value for your company and establishing what a proper option price should be is particularly important. Do not be stingy with options. It is good practice to have the options vest over four years. The first quarter can vest annually on the first anniversary of the employee’s hire date. This provides sufficient time to evaluate performance and dismiss employees that do not work out without them getting any stock. After that, vesting can be either monthly or annually. Also, incentive compensation can be established. It is critical to tie incentive compensation to company financial performance. The key variables to use are Year-end Monthly Recurring Revenue (or ARR), cash and net income. Example compensation plans are available from Arbor Dakota.
13. Fundraising and revenue generation: You need money to pay people and continue to build out your team. There are only two ways to get money. These are fundraising and revenue generation. In today’s environment, you cannot raise money without revenue generating customers. So, generating cash is a huge requirement for building a killer team. There are several obstacles to raising money. One is the concept that fund raising requires revenue. Many entrepreneurs do not understand or accept this as fact. But it is. Second, many entrepreneurs do not want to give up equity in their organization. This is compounded by the fact that many of these people over-value their start-up and try to hold out for unrealistic valuations. Finally, most entrepreneurs do not understand the mentality of an investor or do not think like an investor. Investors are presented with great opportunities all the time. The fundamental question that investors have is “If I invest $1.00 in your company today, how will I get back at least $10.00 in the future and how long will that take?” The follow-on questions are “What assumptions are we making? And “How much total investment do you need to get to profitability or cash-flow positive status?” This REQUIRES a realistic financial plan on market traction and adoption, expenses, key ratios (like new sales to salespeople or closes per pipeline generated or customers to client services personnel). Most entrepreneurs cannot build out a financial model. This hurts them in the end with respect to managing the business, getting funding and therefore hiring critical talent. But more importantly, it is essential to develop a continuous revenue stream. That can only happen with sales. The goal is not to continuously raise money. The goal is to get paying customers, so you don’t have to continuously raise money. Therefore, your sales hire is the most critical member of your team.
14. Celebrate Success: All great teams want to be able to celebrate success. It is an important part of team building. The question is “What constitutes success?” Many organizations celebrate the wrong successes. For instance, a company may not want to celebrate the release of a product, but instead celebrate when the product achieves its first 3 paying customers. This is a business, not a hobby. Success is normally defined by customers or revenue.
15. Use Your Resources: Do not be afraid to use recruiters or job sites or your board or mentors to help you get the absolute best talent you can. You cannot do it alone.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call: https://clarity.fm/joy-brotonath