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How to make a winning team?

Here is the notes from a panel discussion for startups hosted by echai.in on the topic of How to make a winning team.

Balkrishna Agarwal 3 min read

The panelists were,

  • Abhilash Sonwane, Co-Founder, Pedagogy

    Vision: Wants to impact & help every child in India.

  • Vikas Mundhra, Founder, Magenta Connect

    Vision: Wants to help 10000 SMEs list on the Indian bourses.

  • Nirav Raval, Co-Founder, KiwiQA & 2 other companies.

    Vision: Wants the company to take to successful listing.

Before we start with the notes, I made a small pitch there about my ongoing search for a co-founder for my tech startup who would be equal partner(50% equity) me on this exciting journey. Ideal Profile/Persona: A full-stack mobile app developer, with experience of building mobile apps + has a good network of developers + preferable to have experience of chat platforms/applications.

Anybody who helps me find a co-founder would win a trip to fly :) Learn & experience Paragliding.

On with the notes

  1. First a build a network of what is required in the business(tech, customers, suppliers) & then start the venture.

  2. The biggest incentive for anybody to join your team is how the opportunity is unique & this is the only place to realise the dream.

  3. Show them their personal career growth in the team & how its beneficial to join an early team.

  4. Don’t hire a misfit just for their talent. If a mistake has happened, be immediate about acting to correct it & fire if needed. You owe it to your team, who have trusted you. Culture is very very important in the early stage of startup, is important with growth too, but can be largely handled & contained in a much bigger team.

  5. Advise to a young person just after a college. Join a startup in the initial 2 years of its struggle. The amount of learning will be insane.

  6. When deciding the compensation/offer for the co-founder, what value would the person add to the team. Would the venture grow multi-fold because of them? Its a no-brainer in that scenario. Compensation shouldn’t decide a co-founder, he/she should hold your hand & jump into well with you. You shouldn’t have to sell to a co-founder & they should sign-in for the dark times. Give them an option to be an employee or a co-founder.

  7. The goal of the company should be clear & communicated to every team member. Alignment of co-founders & the team towards a common goal is most important. Have sessions for this at regular intervals.

  8. Early stage Startups needs generalists & specialists later.

  9. Have a joint meeting every morning to inspire each other. Share stories of inspiration & positivity with each other. Celebrate Birthdays & other occasions.

  10. Training the team is as important as achieving the targets.

  11. A key difference between West & India is that people in west are self-driven, don’t need a lot of management. In India staff expects to be told, what to do.

  12. Trick: Don’t hire a HR for the first 40 people. Hire form the personal reference of team.

  13. Have a culture, where its OK to fail. Just take ownership, learn lessons & make better systems/processes. Don’t go into fault finding mode.

  14. Peace-time(Growth period) would be governed by systems & process, the core team may fell left out but its important to keep them close because in the War-time, this is team which is the most invested in the success of the venture.

Things & People to read, watch, list & follow.

  • Getting Things Done book & Calm Achiever program by David Allen.

  • Masterclass.com

  • Startup readership program by Anupam Verma

  • Ramesh Damani investor from India

  • Infinitheism by Mhatriya

  • Masters of Scale

  • Also meet successful people who have made it already & learn from them.

  • Look out for online training programs, wherever you feel the need for growth.

Tools used

  • Slack

  • Jeera

  • Trello