It is vastly different to build a team from scratch and creating a team in an established company. The first hires in your team will have one of the most intense work relations with you, and if the passion level towards your work is high it may spill over into your daily life as well. The interaction intensity in a larger company is just not the same. You are likely not to have an HR team available to guide you through the hiring process.
The core team should be created after very careful consideration. The clarity of work culture and values and adherence to a common ground of passion and work ownership goes a long way in setting up the early stage team. It is imperative that there is an alignment in the vision and the team is a cultural fit in the larger scheme of things. It can be disastrous to bring in the wrong person and then not being able to fire them, especially if there is a stake sharing capacity.
It is a smart move to hire people you know well. The plus is when you have worked with them earlier in some capacity. It is easier to gauge the practical skill set and this is a boon when delivery is the focus in an early stage startup. It is much more practical to have known people to build the core strategy and product. You can hit the ground running if your team has cohesion and trust from day one in each other’s abilities and commitment. The next round hires can add to the skill set and expand the functionality.
It is a long and difficult road towards fund raising and your core team should appreciate that. Although it might be easier for some startups to raise funds, most find the initial stage a little difficult. The team should have the capacity to sustain for a while, maybe even a year on a small pay to ensure that costs are down and there is no need to induct Angel Investors at the very start. There is a much higher chance to make a lot of money at the end.
It is definitely not advisable to bring in college kids or employees with very little experience. The employee with an accumulated experience of working in a larger corporate will bring with them a body of knowledge and skill sets. The core team should be a seasoned lot that can handle expediencies. The next layer could be people with smaller experience. This will ensure that there is always a solution provider and a process setter in the team.
The new age startups have a tendency to hire a core group comprising of techies who are a whiz at putting together a product but have no knowledge of how to put across the product in the market. The product USP and marketability is not tested and might have gaps that only a seasoned marketing and sales person can pick out. It is imperative that the functional areas are seamlessly put together from the very initial stages.
The lack of seasoned Sales and Marketing professionals will also impact decisions on what and how to build. For all practical reasons the startup may end up with a technologically brilliant product that has no acceptance in the market. It is definitely smart to have people who can get the product up and running from the first stage and ensure recurring revenue and a loyal customer base.
Create a long term view of the startup and hire accordingly. Emphasis on a short-term exit or short term sell out to larger corporates is a potentially dangerous idea. This takes away from the passion and determination. The average employee gathers trust issues and is overly concerned about their salaries. This is a definite minus in a startup which should be fired up about ownership and not pay day culture! There should be provisions for growth and career enhancement to keep the fire burning!