Few things I learned

It’s all about the TEAM
Before you start reading, I advice you to read the disclaimer post on this blog, just to know my background and where all this come from…

I decided to write this post after the realisation that there seems to be a problem in our (as Palestinian entrepreneurs, including me ) understanding of what the TEAM means and its importance in building a startup.

When I started CoDoo two years ago, I was hearing a lot about the importance of the team and its effects on the probability of success of the startup, but I was always thinking: “What’s all that about?! I will hire people and build the team (I had money from a family investment)… Of course I want top people in my company and thats why I raised the money, to pay them…”. I have to admit now, that was stupid …

After the failure of CoDoo, I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out the reasons, and believe me there is a ton of them :) of course all of them has to do with me since I am the only founder. Some were easy to figure out, like: Execution, decision making, financing, etc. But these were the obvious ones, the ones that really mattered and took me time to figure are the not so obvious, like the TEAM of cofounders, and as I mentioned before, in CoDoo there was none. So I decided to write this post to touch on what I have learned from CoDoo and all the discussions about it since.

I think the easiest way to do this is through stating the phrases I used to say and still hear and comment on them.

“I have a team of X Employees”
Lets start with what a Team means, first of all: its NOT the people you hire, the team consist of the cofounders of the company; people who care about the startup as much as you do, people who are committed to the startup just for the belief that this is gonna be huge…
Why is that Important? Its important because your employees will not have the interest nor the courage to shout in your face, or tell you that a decision you are about to make (or made for that matter) is stupid, but a cofounder will, because this is her/his livelihood as much as it is yours, and believe me, you need people like this in every startup.

“We are a team of developers”
That’s nice, but the best teams are cross-functional teams (I credit this to my friend and mentor Yousef Ghandour). A team of developers has a chance of success, but a team of technical, business and marketing people has a much better one.

“I can’t find a team”
“I don’t know anyone who understands my idea”

Come on, unless your idea is so different or out of the blue, the chances are that there are few people who will find it interesting. I think the problem is in the circle of people you look at, we tend to look at our small circle of close friends and family, when we need to be looking at a much bigger one, a circle that includes people who we worked with, people who we met in meeting or events, even people who we only heard about.
Don’t be shy to try talking to people, even ones in high positions – they are the one that most likely to understand the opportunity and give a constructive criticism. I know its hard but you will get better in it the more you try.

“I have a complete idea, X is ready to invest in it once I have a team”
In my opinion, this is a turn off for any good entrepreneur. Super-stars need to have their fingerprint in the startup to be able to contribute.
Yes, this information should be considered good to have and may encourage some people to join, but believe me, those are not the ones you are after, people who are risk averse, and want everything the easy way, you want super-stars who believe in every part of the idea, and willing to sacrifice in order to see it happen.
If you come up with an idea, the first thing to do is to figure out the team that can execute it, and go talk to them, incorporate their feedback, make them feel that its also their idea, and always be open to change and adapt, and remember, it is not the idea you as person go in with, its the idea you as a team come out with that matters.

DISCLAIMER:

Before I start blabbering in my blog (which is my first :) ), I want to make few things clear:

A. I was NOT successful in raising any VC money till this day.

B. My first startup (CoDoo) didn’t make it, and I am currently part of a new startup called PinchPoint. So in other words, my advices come mostly from failures not success, which I think is good since you don’t find many people talking from this position đŸ˜‰

C. All my experience is from the Palestinian tech scene, so many of what I say may be already known or even not relevant in other locations, so proceed at your own risk ….

D. I am not a native english speaker.

Of course, all comments are welcome…

Written by: Khaled

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