A great blog post by one of my mentors, Gurbaksh Chahal.
By Gurbaksh Chahal, Chairman & CEO, RadiumOne
Having been on my third startup, I’ve learned a few things about the “starting up” process. And one thing I’ve realized is that a great product isn’t the secret to success, it’s the team around you that makes it or breaks it.
The first “five” people you hire are critical. Think of these as your navy seals that’ll go into battle with you. They need to have the same drive, ambition, and their interests have to be aligned with you. They have to be in it for the right reasons. If you pick the right “five” – you’ll either succeed with the original idea or pivot to an even greater one.
Once you’ve proven to the marketplace you’ve got a reason to be in market – the next question is how big can you make this? It’s the growth stage. If you get this right – you’ll solve two things. The first thing: The foundation of your company culture. This becomes the DNA – the energy that celebrates all the ups and problem/solves the downs.
Second, it’s about the opportunity. How big can I make this? And you’ll only know the answers to that, when you’ve got the best minds working on the problem. Superman was fiction. But, delegation amongst the right team can bring the superpowers of success at your fingertips. Pick the right first 20 and they’ll take you as far as you can lead them.
In the technology world, people get confused – they feel a business is run by a magical algorithm. Relationships are everything in the life and most importantly in the business world. A successful business is not run by algorithms but by relationships.
I remember reading an article about Marissa Mayer, employee #20 at Google. On her second day at the Company, it had signed a deal to become Netscape’s default search engine. Employees were frantically doing calculations to determine whether they would have enough power to handle the searches that came in. They had about 300 computers at the time and weren’t sure they’d have the capacity. Google told Netscape to send only one of every five queries, but Netscape didn’t listen: It sent Google all its traffic, and Google had to take down its site.
Some can argue that it was the Company’s fault for not being ready. I disagree. No algorithm or product is ever perfect or ever will be. It’s an ongoing iteration. A team’s ability to understand, react, and solve each opportunity defines a Company’s future success. 10 years later from that event, they are still the most valuable Internet Company in the world.
And, that’s enough motivation and a case study for every entrepreneur on building his or her dream team.