Hiro Maeda of Open Network Lab talks about how founders are the foundation of a startup, and what makes a strong foundation.
The foundation of a startup is no doubt the founders. The founders create the idea, the execution, and the passion that drives the company. The entire organization is built upon this foundation.
Can the Foundation of a startup really make a huge impact. Peter Thiel Stated That a ” startup Messed up at its Foundation can not be fixed . “ It is really worth Spending a lot of time building the Foundation of a startup. Requires HAVING A strong Foundation the right people with the right skills, mentality, relationship, and culture.
There are many skills that would be great to have as founders of a startup However, the two skills that would be most important at its founding is the ability to build and the ability to analyze The ability to build is obvious -. The team needs to be capable of building the product to sell. The ability to analyze is equally as crucial. Running a startup requires constant analysis and decision making. Founders have to analyze user behavior, competitors, market condition and trends, product development, company financing, and many other things. Not only do founders have a lot to analyze, they also have to be fast at making decisions.
Stubbornness and Flexibility
From experience, founders who are too stubborn all the time often struggle scaling teams and founders who are too flexible often take more time with product development. Great startups have founders who have a good balance between stubbornness and flexibility. I’ve been trying to figure out what the balance is perfect and I think Jeff Bezos nailed it – “ Be stubborn on vision but flexible on details. ”
You should be stubborn on the value you bring to your customers and users, but don’t get too hung up on the details on how you deliver that value.
Balance and Relationship
Extremely Intense is the relationship Between Cofounders. Having Cofounders is Like “ being married with Kids, minus the Sex. ”You have this baby (your startup), and there so many stressful Things Are Involved with Raising it. It is Extremely Important That the cofounders trust and respect one another. This is why we prefer cofounders that have worked together before. Cofounders with great chemistry have either worked at the same company before, worked together on a project, or played in the same sports team.
It’s best if the cofounders supplements one another. I often find it appealing if there are three founders where one person can build, another can design, and the third person can hustle.
The founders defines and creates the culture of the company. Culture is extremely important for an organization. An alignment of culture between the founders and hires make an impact on the motivation and retention of everyone in the organization. I’ve seen some teams break up and also even the founders be driven out of their own company that they’ve built themselves because of bringing in the wrong person with the no cultural fit. Brad Feld emphasizes that “culture comes first when hiring.”
Here is a great example of a hiring Criteria from Chamath That was Actually Used at Facebook:
- Very high IQ
- Strong sense of purpose
- Relentless focus on success
- Aggressive and competitive
- High quality bar boarding on perfectionism
- Likes changing and disrupting things
- New ideas on how to do things better
- High integrity
- Surrounds themselves with good people
- Cares about building real value over perception
I think every company should create their culture around the values mention above.
Even if it seems like things are going well, a weak foundation will break eventually. A strong founding team could really go far, even if they start off with the wrong idea. So spend time getting the right people, with the right skills, mentality , relationship, and culture. Spend time building a strong foundation.
This post was originally published on Hiro’s blog as Foundation of a Startup.
About the author
Hiro Maeda is managing partner of Open Network Lab, a seed stage investment program based in Tokyo. Hiro also invests in startups in the US on behalf of Netprice.com.
Image Credits: T.J.S Concrete
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