The startup world isn’t so different from middle school gym…
Forming a startup team is not much different from picking your kickball team in middle school gym class. Although we’ve all grown up from the ever present worry of being picked last, you do have to exert a level of strategy to picking your players for the big leagues- the business world. You need a combination of players to make the team as strong as it can be. Diversifying your team’s strengths is even something we attempted when choosing not only the kids that could throw hard balls, but also those that could catch in the outfield. In choosing your team mates for a startup you face the same challenge of diversifying the team’s strengths while uniting under the common goal of a win. However, a win in this case is much harder to achieve than scoring a few runs when no one is really trying anyway.
Putting together a successful startup team can be broached in a number of ways. One of which is the Hacker, Hipster, and Hustler method. In this case the team includes someone to format the basics, the eye for design, and the person who gets the job done through interaction and the selling of the product. Now this does not mean that these are the only aspects that are valued on a startup team, or even that these characteristics need to be split up into three people, just that for a good startup one needs to diversify her interests to build a strong base. Usually the hustler is the individual with the most experience in the business world. They can talk to buyers while still marketing “the why” of a product. The hipster is the latest up and coming role in a startup’s lineup. In an age where almost any idea can be of use, it is of utmost importance that the product looks good and attracts customers. Meanwhile the hacker is the constructor. She makes sure to build the product, whether that may be in an app, or physically building. The unification of all of these strengths creates a first-string team.
Now we have heard these ambiguous strategies since Mama told you to make friends with people that complement you in 9th grade. “Opposites attract,” she said. The key to all this gibberish is to minimize your weaknesses. It’s easy to say a good strategy is compiling a strong team. But that’s easier said than done. After all, does a strong team mean one that all has the same idea? Or one that has a distinct leader and other followers? This leaves much room for interpretation, and in the business world (and the kickball world) that could spell failure. A better way of looking at this idea is putting together a team that covers each other’s bases. You want to create a startup team that will be able to cover all the bases. Whether you add strength in besides the hacker, hipster and hustler is up to you, but the home run team is strength in diversity. You want a team balance that will keep you from sinking in the business arena.
While building a competent team is a necessity, a strong alliance can only get you so far. Your product needs to have vision. And while Stephen provided many impeccable answers to our questions, the thing that I took away from our meeting with him the most wasn’t those direct answers themselves, but his zest and passion through the stories he chose to tell us. Through his stories he brought to life his why without even really saying it. After the meeting I couldn’t tell you his “why” in words but I could tell you it in feelings that I experienced listening to him. Inspiring us through his stories is a skill I truly was very impressed by, and I hope to be able to harness that ability to tell stories and use them as a vehicle for my passion the way he did so seamlessly.
Having so much passion for your startup is a strength, but it also has the potential to be a weakness. When you’re so excited about something it’s easy to get carried away and plan everything out to fit your vision perfectly. This is a place where the business model canvas would truly benefit someone in contrast to the traditional business model. The business model canvas would allow me to get all my “stream of consciousness” thoughts out. But then would give me the ability to really hone those thoughts, edit them, and eventually evolve them in order to be a proper vehicle to express my passion, my why and my success.
Overall the game plan to creating a successful startup is not concrete. But one way you can set yourself up for success is creating a diverse team that minimizes weakness, by harnessing your passion for what you’re creating, and by not rushing a finished product.