Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Right Casting your Core

If you are a startup and looking out to build a core team, think through on what type of people you need. Being part of several start-ups in the past and also currently being a founder of a new one, I understand the constant pressure you might go through to find the team. My personal opinion and observations on this (more of a philosophy) is not to hurry or compromise.

Do not fall into the valuation trap to bring in high-fliers and experts in their respective fields. On one side, even if the chemistry works and the people you are bringing in are experts, if they do not have enough important work to do, then, you land up diluting the interests and morale apart from the equity anyway. It is OK if you pass on great people. Make it 'equitable' for the organization and the people you bring in.

On the contrary, keep the focus on getting people with passion and who are willing to take up work beyond their capability. This has magical effects on the productivity of the team as well as the morale. I have first hand experience of this effect in the recent past. A sense of camaraderie is what makes a winning team. I have seen and heard of teams with real high fliers and the CEOs fulltime job in managing egos and fire fights.

Of course, promote the strengths and augment the weakness with advisors to the board and external help from the network. You would not want to set your core team up for failure if they absolutely lack capabilities and are just full of passion.

In short, Keep the focus on the core, promoting people with passion and assign accountability and responsibility greater than their current ability. Reduce the bling effect. You do not need big guys for valuation. This philosophy works at all levels apart from the core. Try it. Let me know.

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