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The Kind of People that Make Startups Succesful

After interacting with many early entrepreneurs, other successful ones and interviewing many candidates for my own startup I have seen certain patterns (probably wrong so my apologies in advance for my short sight) of the kind of people that one wants to bring on early on a startup, either as co-founder or early employees, and that will help create that billion dollar company.

Builders. There is a clear difference of building a process versus running a process.  Builders have to be creative and figure out what to build and how to build it. Process operators just have to learn how processes are designed and keep them going. Not everyone can build. Startups are grown by builders, people that are creative to figure out how to design something, organized to follow through and make it happen and disciplined to sustain the new processes. Builders do not need to be told that to get from A to B you need to do X, Y and Z.  They figure it out and ensure that there are robust processes defined around it so that no one has to rebuild the process again. There is time invested in defining the vision (what I would see as getting the bike and riding though the countryside to find the best grass) but a lot of more time executing (placing the pavement so that you can have a trailer truck drive through) once a vision is set.

Low Maintenance. I mean people that need low level of oversight or direction. They find their own way.  All the founders I have met are extremely time constrained, always joggling on how to best spend their time.  And probably being on top of other people to get things done is not the best use of their time.

Runners. People that have a ton of initiative and that go the extra mile to make things happen. They go a long way. No excuses on why things could not get done because they will get done.

Smart. If early teams waste their time explaining things five times, the company is going to go reeeaaally slow. Successful early teams learn fast, think quickly and try new things even quicker.

Broad.  People that when they don’t know about something they will grasp it fairly quickly, whatever the field of knowledge. Functional expertise is great if you really needed it (always dangerous to create silos) but in early teams horizontally broad individuals go a long way.

Easy going. 1+1 can be 2 or it can be 1. Team interactions can be productive or destructive. You want people that can brainstorm, can add but are easy going on accepting other’s perspectives. For example, I have seen some successful MBAs to be very unsuccessful entrepreneurs because although they meet the other previous criteria they just cannot accept that someone might have a better idea (or do things differently)

If you think I missed something feel free to drop a comment below!

Defining the criteria for making a selection is the first step, but now the million dollar question: how to you know that someone has those traits? Well, there is no simple answer unfortunately. Sometimes references are helpful but I always like to do working sessions, to really see how someone thinks and works in a real setting with a real problem.  It might also work for you!