How to build an awesome team for your startup?

Guide, tips and actionable strategies for helping you build a killer team.

As per Statista, approximately 90% of start-ups fail. Out of which 10% fail in their first year, 70% of the startups fail between the years 2-5. The most important factors among all that leads to failure is the "Formation of their core team". Here we list down the steps and criteria to assess while selecting a team for a new and emerging start-up.

Start with an Inspiring Vision

To attract a great co-founder or founding team it is very critical to keep your goal clear. Your vision about problem solving for customers determines your team. Its important that they understand and share the same belief as you. This sets the foundation of your start-up right.

Right Size of Founding Team

Analysis of successful startups has revealed the number of co-founders in a start-up to be 2. While 3 may be a perfect number, 4 looks like extending it beyond and any more than that is inviting trouble.

A founding team should be as small as possible. 2 people team is good as it allows you to distribute the necessary workload and the trust factor is higher. 3 co-founders in your team do allow room for diversity of skill and specialized roles. Although, this may also open space for conflicts. Office politics, shareholding, work distribution, performance measurement, etc are some issues that are common occurrences in co-founding team members. It becomes a pressing issue, as the co-founder numbers grow.

Photo Credit: Jason Goodman, Unsplash

Outreach Proactively To Get Your Founding Team

Your co-founder or founding team’s skills should complement yours. The best way to locate the desired talent or partner is by starting to look into your personal network. Ask for personal recommendations and referrals.

Then, start with peers in the start-up community and network with them. To meet like-minded people spend time in a co-working space, attending startup events. Also, being part of start-up forums on social media will help you engage more. Networking helps you get in touch with people who may share the same goal as you. It helps develop meaningful relations getting you closer to your right partner.

Regularly meet them in-person or via video appointments. Have several discussions about the project and also on subjects that interest you. This way you will understand their ideologies and style of working to see if they match yours. After all, finding a business partner is no less than a marriage between 2 people.

Agree on Roles For Your Founding Team

The perfect founding team should consist of people with certain attributes. These qualities are usually categorized into three parts. It's not necessary that you need to have 3 different people. One person can play dual roles too if you wish to keep your team size to 2 people only.

Visionary's Role: The one who understands the goals and objectives and sees into the future. Visionary is the one who can instill the dream in others. One who can convince the skeptics among the customers, market, and investors. Visionary inspired the rest of the team and their job is all times, people-facing. This person should have the following skills: 1.) Leadership and management 2.) Strategic business planning 3.) Critical thinking and problem-solving.

Hustler's Role: The hustler is a go-getter of the group, setting the pace and making sure everyone else keeps up. They are the ones who would learn what they don’t know. They will put in hours to get the work done until it's done.

Hacker's Role: They are the ones who only have one thing to focus on. They have to know the product, its functions, and its operational wizards. For eg, in a restaurant, the Hacker would be a chef. For a tech start-up, it's a Software Engineer.

Once you have your co-founders on board, you move on to form your startup team. Your startup usually goes through 3 stages i.e. Innovation, Growth and Scale. You need to pick and build your team accordingly.

Stage 1: Team Building for Innovation

Founding members work towards the development of the product and find product-market fit. This stage requires research and testing the market. Learning how to grow the business would be a learning curve. This team sets up the agenda and foundation for the second stage where they have to scale up the business.

Tip:The founding team should stay lean and focused in this stage. You should do only limited hiring at this stage. For example, hiring a few experts or passionate individuals to get things going on. Like hiring a developer to build an MVP, or hiring a marketing consultant to prepare a marketing strategy.

Stage 2: Team Building for Growth

This stage usually comes when you've product-market fit and getting customer interest. From here, only if you have proper people on board, can you start to grow. This is the phase you need people who are self-motivated, pro-active, and also dynamic in skills. You would need candidates who are adaptable to rapid change. A start-up itself may go through many strategic changes.

Tip: Initially, hire only those who are necessary for the day-to-day operations, while the rest tasks can be outsourced.

This team may consist of these domains with required capabilities: Full-Stack Developer, Business Development, Financial Officer, Customer Service Representative, etc.

Stage 3: Team Building for Scale

This stage comes when you have an increasing customer base and inbound sales. For a team to grow, it requires an organized structure that defines roles for each department. The team are separated and dedicated to their own space of work. Measurable targets and performances are assessed at equal intervals. You need more people with managerial skills like Product Manager, Engineering Team Lead, etc.

Qualities of Startup Teams

You need to keep a strong eye on qualities of people working for you. They should be Result-oriented, Accountable, Committed, Solution-oriented, Trustworthy to start at the least.

Answer these questions if you're building your startup team

What is your startup's vision?

What founding team size are your sticking to and why?

What steps you are taking to find your kick-ass founding team?

Who is a visionary, who is a hustler, who is a hacker in your team?

Is your team ready for the innovation stage?

Is your team ready for the growth stage?

Are you ready for the scale stage, whenever it comes?


Email us your answers, we are always eager to learn about your startup journey. Also, we at ImpactInsta are here to help you with your hirings and finding right candidates using our A.I. powered skill assessment tools.