Thursday, May 05, 2005

Team Dynamic

As promised, I wanted to talk a bit about team dynamics.

VC Criteria
Many VC's will talk about the importance of team, market, and idea in that order. In the team category they would like to see entrepeneurs with a proven track record. Proven track record does not necessarily equate to successful track record but it's heavily weighted that way. Those without successful track records but have proven themselves to be strong, trustworthy, and brave certainly have a shot. Predominantly what the VCs want is entrepeneurial wisdom, market experience, and technological smarts. They are also looking for a set of founders and management team that they have chemistry with.

Company Criteria
For the company, it really starts off with a solid foundation and good chemistry. After all, these are the people you will be in the trenches with day in and day out come hell or high water for the next several years. As a founder of a few companies I can with confidence say that it's best to have a partner going in. I think the way Guy Kawasaki put it in his excellent book, The Art of the Start, you need a business soul mate (see books I've read for the link). The best case, imho, is to pair a technology guy who understands enough about business to be dangerous with a business guy who understands enough about technology to be dangerous. The crux is too have a healthy respect for one another while being confident enough to question the other's opinions. Aside from these two you need people who can flat out get a lot done. One of my friends put it to me this way recently, "You want the person that you talk to the idea about in the afternoon, just to bounce it off of them, and they come back the next day with a solution." These are the people who are smart and hungry, ready to conquor the world. And it's imperative in the beginning to have great chemistry. A big organization cannot afford that luxury because they'd never fill all the positions they need to fill. Instead they have process. A small organization is made on that luxury because it is the grease that reduces the drag coefficient.

In my opinion, you don't need well defined roles. You need smart, motivated, agile, and adaptable people. You certainly don't need marketing to start out (unless you're a marketing company). In our company, one of our five amazing people's amazing artist/designer wife is working on the logos, the website, the powerpoint templates. We have a part time contract controller who comes in a couple hours every couple weeks and does the books, payroll, etc. We all contribute to marketing lit and powerpoints. 80% of us code. We get things done and keep the ball moving, and if we need outside help, we go get it and ask for a discount to conserve cash.

another quote from my good friend Jim Lejeal (see blogs I read on the right) goes something like, "you may walk away and say he's full of shit, and that's ok, that's just the way I see it"


1 comment:

Todd Vernon said...

Totally agree with the roles. Another philosophy I believe in is to find a partner who you are quite convinced is more ‘worried’ then yourself. Then when your laying awake at night you don’t feel resentful  Good post.

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