I can’t stress enough the importance of having a great team when starting out. The team I’m referring to is the founding team plus the first few people in your startup. You can choose and control exactly whom you work with. Any compromises there greatly increase the chances of your startup failing.
Wizrocket is my third startup where I have had other co-founders. Back in 1994, while I was still in college, I co-founded a business along with my best friend. We dabbled in writing software, assembling PCs, fixing dot matrix printers etc. We had zero prior experience of writing software or assembling PCs. We quite literally learnt our stuff on the job. As a team our energy levels, mindset and our drive to succeed matched. In the two years we managed to sell 40 copies of our software (for perspective – this was in Ahmedabad in 1994. We had to find 40 High Court Advocates with computers who were willing to pay us for our software), a feat that I’m very proud of.
In 2006, I started burrp.com with Deap. Both of us chucked our respective jobs in the US to relocate to India so that we could work full time on burrp! As a team we took a massive “leap of faith”. We fed off each others energy levels. We shared a sense of camaraderie and we knew exactly we were going with burrp!. In this case we had complementary skills. I used to handle technology, while Deap handled everything else. We both owned product. Both of us set the hiring bar very high and carefully chose who we let in. The team built not one, but two products – burrp! local and burrp! TV, both with kick-ass features, kick-ass UI/UX and a beaming sense of pride. At one point we were nominated by Business 2.0 magazine as one of top 30 non-US companies to watch out for. We made the mighty Google pay us for sourcing burrp! listings (yes, you read it right). We rode the wave. Most people from the original burrp! team are now entrepreneurs in their own might and run some super hot startups.
Most recently, I started Wizrocket with Sunil and Suresh. While we’re still very early into the journey, what we’ve managed to pull off with a three-people team is nothing ordinary. Time will tell whether we succeed or fail, but one thing I’m sure of that we’ll all be a lot more wiser learning from each other.
A winning team not only shares a common belief or goal, but continuously learns from one another and finds means and ways to reach the goal faster.
Some lessons and observations –
- Be very careful whom you let in your team. Never be in a hurry to hire for your startup.
- Small teams are more agile. Push back hiring as much as you can.
- A great team can figure out a way to pull off an impossible product.
- You can have small winning teams in big companies too. I was very lucky in my career to be part of some of them.