How to Build the Perfect Startup Team
Lessons For Founders, Entrepreneurs, Startups and New Companies
Behind every great company is a founder who discovered a better solution to an everyday problem, and who is so dedicated, even obsessed, with delivering her better solution to everyone that she has no choice but to commit everything to the success of her company. Behind every great company is a founder who knows the value of every dollar that comes in and every dollar that goes out of her company. We want a founder who knows how to balance being pragmatic and passionate. She won’t underestimate the value of her company, but she also pays attention whether there is an actual need for her product or service. We don’t want a founder who is so in love with her company that she fails to pay attention to what the market actually needs. Founders need to be focused, but they need to be flexible with their products, as well. At Angel Kings, we also know that founders who are hyper–focused on profit and the marketability of their products only hire people of the same mindset. Therefore, a driven founder, who is supported by an equally motivated and driven team, has a better chance in leading her company on a positive trajectory. As an investor, look for founders who are obsessed with winning, but not blinded by illusion.
You should also look to see whether the founding team has a hacker, hustler, and social media maven to lift the company to the next level. I wrote a previous book called Hire Like a Boss, which explains the critical fact that every founding team needs these people—or elements—to become billion dollar companies.
1. A perfect hacker is an engineer who not only understands how to build a product, but can also teach others how to do the same in the most efficient way. At his or her core, a hacker is someone who not only builds software or hardware, but can also manage a product team as the company grows to scale.
2. A perfect hustler sells you a product and becomes your friend at the same time. It’s someone who you didn’t even realize was asking you for money—when in fact they were the entire time. Business development is about asking for money, getting paid customers, and then using these customers to refer others. Startup hustling is a three-part process, and you need a hustler on a founding team.
3. A perfect social media maven can drive organic traffic to a startup. When a startup company first launches, more money should be spent on search engine optimization (SEO) and driving buzz and conversation around a product. A social media maven should be working non-stop to drive campaign traffic; if you see a startup paying for traffic, that’s a red flag. Most often, early stage companies already have someone who’s a social media maven, but you should find out whether they are leveraging social media and SEO to drive free customer acquisition in this new technological era.
You need all three elements to build and scale a startup. However, this doesn’t mean you need three people doing each role. In fact, early stage startups often have one or two people at most. But each element must be present at the time of your investment; your venture capital investment should not be used to pay for outsourcing or hiring someone else to fill these roles.
The perfect startup team is one that has a nice balance of developers; hackers; somebody that can sell a product whether it's software or hardware, a business developer. Then third, somebody who really can put that all together and market the company, whether that's a chief marketing officer or a social media maven. So a perfect founding team isn't somebody who is a veteran of the industry and has had ten years of experience. Many of those companies raise money and fail. What if a perfect startup team is a nice of a nice balance of somebody who can code (hackers) somebody who can sell a product (hustlers) and somebody who can deliver the message and brand the company in the right way (growth hackers).