How to build a startup A-team

Ensuring you have a solid team is a crucial factor in the success of your startup.


Gone! recently spoke at Innventiva, an event that brings art, creativity, innovation and business together in a day-long convention.Nicolás Bayerque, CEO, talked to a full auditorium of almost 500 people, sharing ideas, projects and personal experiences to promote and art, innovation and creativity. We also joined the Consero Startup Acceleration Forum in Las Vegas. This time discussing how to build a start-up A-team, something we’ve been happy to achieve. Our team includes big data scientists, Harvard Phd, former stockbroker, and MBAs. but more importantly, has the drive and personal skills to create and manage a great project with record quality, in record time.

Hire for Personality

Don’t assume everything is validated. Goals change quickly and priorities might change by interaction with customers. We had a good experience hiring for positions that can deal with complexity and a very variable environment.

Look for hustle. Early employees are very close to founders, as they get the project started together. We had great results looking for people who can stand the dynamic environment of a young company.

Find Talent

Leverage the network of your existing cofounders. For technical talent, this works out best, not only because you have a strong reference on the candidate, but also because the induction process takes less time. We didn’t have good experience exploring candidates outside the cofounders network and doing random interviews.

Use free tools. There are great tools and most of them are free, such as Linkedin and Conspire. With them, you can mine into the network of people you probably know to get to a specific person.

Offer impossible challenges. In our experience, technical challenges that are product related worked out well. Especially ones that we know that cannot be completed on the time assigned, or that are almost impossible to solve with the constraints given. The purpose of the challenge wasn’t to see it get solved by the candidate, but rather taking a look at his thought processes.

Twist the challenge, or add a set of new constraints right on the spot. It shows that in the environment you’re recruiting for, things change often. Your first cohort of customers are very different from the second one.

Prioritize Skills

Balance towards skill. Because experience is not transferrable. Twenty years building one app means little for bulding another one. Experience is not a great indicator of quality nor potential. And your startup company lives in the potential: you raise money based on what you hope to do, and the customers you hope to get. Startups are designed to build and communicate potential.

Lower Induction Risks

Lower the other person’s risk factors. Make the expectations extremely clear about chaos and complexity. Things are definitely going to change. Whatever can be de-risked and established right away (compensation, stock options, vesting schedules), must be talked about. Implicit business risk is high enough upfront, and it’s not a good idea to increase it.

We discovered the key is to bring in people with different backgrounds, but with the same passion and shared interests in technology and getting rid of stuff in their drawers! That’s what Gone! is all about, and we are a determined bunch.

Jenny at Gone

Jenny is Communications Director at Gone! follow her on twitter at @jennifertch

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