The Importance of a Great Start Up Team

Date: 16-Jul-2015 Post in: Startups By: Raj Dhonota

People often ask me what the majority of investors look for when considering pitches from start-ups. Is it the idea? Is it the business model? Or the amount of work that’s already been done to validate it? Of course, these are all important factors to take into account, but the main thing most look for is a great team.

I’m no doubt different to most angel investors because I prefer to invest very early stage – mostly at idea or pre-prototype stage. This often means I invest in an individual and help to build a team around them in order to both prove the business concept, as well as to put in place the strong team that most other investors demand.

There are a lot of people out there with great ideas, so there’s a lot of competition for early stage investment and it all comes down execution. And that means it’s all about the people who execute it. I’ve seen great ideas fall down because of poor teamwork and run-of-the-mill ideas reach great heights as a result of having great people carrying them out.

So whether it is me helping entrepreneurs put a team together, or you want to do it yourself, what options are available? Well, there are lots of different ways to find the right co-founders or team members to help you build and pitch your start up. A good place to start are people you’ve worked with before. Don’t make the mistake of only joining up with friends, it’s not necessarily about friendship (although that helps, of course) but about whether you work well together and complement each other’s skills.

If you can’t find the right people to start working with in your own social circles, there are networking events and websites that can connect you with start-ups. Meetup.com is a great platform where you can find lots of networking opportunities. There are also sites such as Startup Startup which connect people interested in joining a start up with entrepreneurs looking to build their team. Some sites charge, whilst others like Startup Startup are free (as at the time of writing). In addition to my own network, my team often use sites like these to find other cofounders interested in joining the start-ups I invest in.

Some general things to take into consideration when deciding on the team you need for your start-up:

  1. Make sure you have a good mix of skills. In a start-up, everyone will end up doing a bit of everything but generally team members will have their specialisms as well. Areas to bear in mind are designing and developing the product, marketing and selling it, and determining the overall strategy and vision.
  2. It helps if at least one of you has previous experience of starting a business. That way, you can learn from and avoid mistakes other people have already made. If you don’t have any start up experience on board it’s even more important to connect with a Mentor who can guide you through the process.
  3. In most start-ups, everyone will have to be versatile and do a bit of everything, but make sure you play to everyone’s strengths as well.
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