3 Key Tips to Select and Grow Your Startup Team

Before embarking on a journey to develop ENVERACE, we contributed to the development of several other startups (Dreamups, 3D Magic Makers), and one organization (MEGA) also related to the domain of environment and sustainable development. In all these entities the most valuable component was the TEAM; and the most important factor that directly influenced whether a venture had turned into a failure or reached success was how the team members were approached, selected, and brought together.

Indeed, proper selection of you team mates can lead to your startup team go into the abyss or rise to the clouds full of successful investor pitches, satisfied paying customers, and valuable contribution to solving the problem you address. Unfortunately, the effects of the improper selection of team members are felt in the long-term, when the mismatches between your startup with your vision and those people accumulate, conflicts heat up, and you can no longer function as a performing team.

This is precisely what happened in the first startup we co-founded. We came together as a startup team on the basis of our professional characteristics and skills, and each one of us brought something unique to the team in terms of knowledge and abilities. And for a good while we worked nicely together and achieved great results in terms of nice Beta product developed, international pitching competition won, and angel investments attracted. However, we did not assess how we fit in terms of vision, values, and soft skills. As time passed this created more and more gaps in understanding our startup and product, diagreements, and internal conflicts. We became similar to the protagonists of the Ivan Krylov’s fable “Swan, Pike, and Crawfish”, pulling the “cart” of our startup in 3 different directions. Finally, we understood that our team can function no longer together, and split. While we still remain good friends, the startup we had worked so hard on, did not survive.

If only we could prevent this from happening… If only we could go back in time and integrate the lessons learnt from our current startup, ENVERACE, into the team selection, assessment, formation, and development within that first one. Perhaps then that startup would be listed in our portfolio of startups not as a failure, but as a meaningful success that solves real problems in the world up till now. Of course, this is not possible. But that failed team-and-startup experience gave us valuable experience and lessons that we are implementing in ENVERACE, as well as sharing with other startups we help.

So, here we would like to share with you 3 of the many inputs and lessons learnt on selecting and growing your team accumulated throughout our startup “journey”. Why? Because we believe that they may help you avoid our first mistakes and select and grow a high performing startup team from the very beginning, when there is still time to make things right.

  1. When selecting potential team members for your startup, focus on their vision-and-cultural fit, not just on their professional-and-skills match.

You may be tempted to find a “rockstar” developer, who “juggles” .NET and JavaScript as a pro. You may be looking for experienced marketer, who does viral promo campaigns with his/her eyes closed. But before you excitedly jump on them with an offer to join your team, try to look beyond the “curtain” of their professional appearance. What do these people value? What is important for them? Do they have or want to have a certain purpose in life? How do their personal vision and values match the one of the startup and its current team? Do they meet the critical requirements of the role you offer them? Finding the answers to these questions will help you greatly in bringing on-board the most suitable person, whom you would love to share your startup “journey” with.

  1. Assess your potential team members and allow them to assess you and your startup. And during the assessment provide them with immediate and sincere feedback.

Trials and assessments are OK for startups. Even though you cannot promise future salaries to your potential team members, you still need to assess their performance and behaviour just like hiring them for an important job. By evaluating their way of working on a test project and behaviour in the environment of your team you will know whether you can adjust to each other or not in the long run. At the same time this should allow the newcomers to see whether working in your startup is really something they would like to do further on. Here your immediate constructive feedback is crucial for them to see that a) you care about them as potential team members and b) you really want them to be happy and do meaningful work in your startup. Having an open and sincere exchange of feedback will create the environment of care and trust among you, which are likely to be important foundations of your further work together as a team.

  1. Use your time and resources effectively: request help with selecting and growing your startup team.

We know how difficult it is to develop a startup. We have gone through this experience several times. While being a small team, we tried to “juggle” everything at once: interviews and experiments, product development, marketing, sales, recruitment, etc. And usually recruitment with its selection and assessment of new team members is left at the end of the list of tasks to do. You are probably in a similar situation now. So, what we suggest you is to request help with things you don’t know how to door do not have time to do from other startups. We believe that startup environment is more of a collaborative “game” than a competitive one. For example, we help startups Corbelium and Duckinder with recruitment for freelancers for their platforms. This allows us to experiment with our own product and develop it further through real-world practice. You can also request support with selecting and developing your team from another startup doing these things. And that startup will be happy to help you in exchange for your valuable feedback on how it goes.

All in all, these are the 3 key tips to select and grow a startup team from our own experience and lessons learnt. If you feel yourself being in the situation similar to our first startup and need help with pre-selection and assessment of your potential team members, we will be glad to come to your aid. Just give the ENVERACE solution a try and see whether it fits your needs. Contact us to learn more.

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