Tag: Founding Team

5 Awesome People That Will Make Your Founding Team Unstoppable

5 Awesome People That Will Make Your Founding Team Unstoppable

Every entrepreneur with a genius startup idea needs a strong founding team to help make that vision a reality.

How do you get the right founding team together so you can reach your startup dreams? Start with awesome people you can trust. The foundation of every great team is trust – trust that each member is committed to the grand purpose, eager and capable of getting stuff done to the highest quality.

I co-founded HotJobs.com with a small team of dedicated entrepreneurs on a mission to transform the job search industry. We were headhunters and had acutely developed abilities in recruiting and assessing the best talent. We had worked together in the trenches and we had trust. We built an absurdly talented tech team. We hand-selected and inspired a best-in-class sales force. Our founding team created an indomitable culture.

More importantly, we got the classified help-wanted ads from the newspapers to online and into the digital world to create massive efficiency. We helped millions of job seekers in the process. Our team power-built the fledgling startup to 650 employees, $125M in revenues and a $1.2B market cap after its IPO. Although we might not have realized it at the time, we had a founding team with all of the right ingredients to make our startup dreams come true.

From my experience co-founding, recruiting and building all-star executive teams, I’ve come across some essential players that can make any founding team achieve the growth and scale they desire.

The Visionary

Every startup begins with a grand idea, vision and purpose. The visionary is the guardian of these powerful forces. This person often serves as both CEO and Chief Inspiration Officer. If your team is in the railroad business, the visionary is the one who discovers unchartered routes and decides that your trains should go to those new markets.

The Operator

The analytical, detail-oriented operator is a necessary counterbalance to the visionary. This person is working behind the scenes, figuring out tactical execution to drive the unit economics of the business and achieve performance results. This person will ensure operational excellence and that the trains run on time.

The Engineer

Your engineer is a master craftsman building an outstanding product. This person’s skill set is in tech and product design – he or she is your Data from Star Trek building the trains and the tracks.

The Dealmaker

Even the best and most innovative products don’t sell themselves. You need a master dealmaker to lead distribution. This person has a knack for creative relationship building and can orchestrate the marketing and sales deals that fund your operation with the right pricing model. The Dealmaker makes sure the trains are full of passengers with sustainable profitability.

The Team Builder

Your team builder is your Chief People Officer. This role is becoming increasingly more important in the knowledge economy. The team builder ensures you have the right people in the right seats doing the right things in the right way and enjoying the journey.

The biggest reason why someone will succeed or fail as part of any organization has everything to do with whether their personal DNA matches the cultural DNA of the organization. This makes the role of the Chief People Officer the most important advisor and partner to the CEO.

An organization’s greatest assets all go home at night. A great team builder knows what gets their people to come back: 1) Performance excellence on an individual level – people feel they can achieve their best work, and 2) Team affiliation, camaraderie and a sense of belonging.

A leader’s core values are made up of his or her unique life experiences, beliefs, motivations, biases and critical thinking. Once the CEO and Chief People Officer have a clear understanding and are in sync on the core values (the pillars of a company’s culture) make sure to learn the core values of each person, especially on your leadership team before you hire them. This way you can continue to raise the bar and replicate the organization’s DNA with people who amplify your culture.


How to Make the Best Hires to Complement Your Founding Team

How to Make the Best Hires to Complement Your Founding Team

Your founding team is your Fantastic 4. You’ve beat the odds together and your team is on the cusp of reaching your startup dreams. You’ve already been in the trenches together, but now comes the harder part. Sustaining the same level of high growth will be an even greater trial you’ll face together – and this time you’ll need more than just your founding team. The added challenge will be to identify and secure the right A+ executive leaders who can can fit within the culture you’ve already established, and take your business to the next level.


If you want to make the best hires to complement your founding team, keep these two critical concepts in mind:

Hire for Culture Fit & Core Values

Hiring for technical chops alone is one of the gravest and most common mistakes CEOs make. Keep in mind that there are other defining characteristics that are of huge importance in a hiring decision. The biggest reason why someone will succeed or fail at any company has everything to do with whether his or her personal DNA matches the cultural DNA of the CEO, the founders and existing executive team. Candidates’ personal DNA is made up of their core values and unique personal experiences, capabilities, biases, and critical thinking. An executive search is not just about finding top leaders, it’s about securing an executive leader who is uniquely qualified to succeed at your company. That shift towards tailor-matching the right leader for the right role at the right organization changes everything.

Build Clarity & Commitment Around the Mission

How do you determine if a new hire is a good culture fit with your organization? You first need to build clarity around what your organization’s grand purpose is. If you and your co-founders were successful in reaching Series B round funding – then you’ve probably got a winning mission already. Be sure that the new leaders you hire understand your mission and have the same devotion to it that you as a founder do. You can accomplish this by making sure his or her core values are in line with your company’s greater purpose. If the the new battles you face together are in service of your mission, your growing executive team will be as unstoppable (and hopefully even stronger) than the groundbreakers who started your organization.