The Value of People in a Startup
By Mrigank Pawagi
November 19, 2021
The value of people in a startup
Your team is the most valuable resource in a startup. Yes, customers pay for your product – but, they buy your vision. A good team, particularly a good founding team, is crucial to any startup’s success.
Why not go solo?
Sure, you can start a business all by yourself—but statistics point that team ventures have a significantly higher rate of success (while being quicker at achieving it), both at raising capital and at generating revenue. Many investors and venture capitalists have also revealed that the people behind a company are more important than the company’s offering—if they possess the required experience and skills, they can always make the company work even if that requires a pivot.
The thing is, one can rarely be an expert at everything. Even if one does have multiple skills, they cannot do everything all at once – and time is gold for any business. At the same time, outsourcing tasks beyond one’s own expertise (like hiring a developer to code an MVP) is not sustainable—it will quickly eat both cash and time.
The solution is to build a diverse team—i.e., a team of people with complementary skills (like building, marketing, finance, etc.)—and do these initial tasks in-house.
But what about “people problems”?
Yes, different surveys have shown that conflicts and major disagreements between people (often co-founders) are one of the root causes of startup failures. But this statistic is not meant to be a deterrent. If you have a good team, you do not have to worry about these “people problems”—a good team will undoubtedly set your company up for success.
What is a good team?
A good team shares a common vision—a common goal that each member is passionate about. While finding team members for your company, make sure that you start with your vision (your “why”) and not your product (your “what”). Different people can have varying ideas about solving the same problems – and if everyone on the team is driven in the same direction, your company will certainly end up solving the chosen problem no matter what the final product looks like (it will most likely be very different from your initial expectation!).
As discussed before, a team with complementary skill sets can quickly and firmly propel your startup in the right direction. With different members of the founding team working on separate tasks parallely, you can get started rapidly without possibly spending a single penny in your initial stages! When different members have independent responsibilities over specific tasks, not only is your team more productive but also open to ideas and suggestions from everyone.
A good team does not have to be one without conflicts—in fact, conflicts are a constructive part of any entrepreneurial journey. Don’t shy away from debates and arguments—if you have the right people in your team, arguments will only serve to improve your plans and techniques. If everybody is driven towards the same goal, disagreements cannot break your team apart, since they will be based on implementation details and not your company’s basic values.
My solo experience
I have been passionate about the intersection of technology and entrepreneurship for several years, but for the most part of my high school, I worked alone. A big advantage of working solo was that I could set my own deadlines, and also get to engage with every part of entrepreneurship myself— learning many important skills in the process.
The downside, however, is that my core strength has always been technology and I am by no means an expert at marketing and finance. As a result, in most of my projects, I would keep switching between coding, testing, marketing, and research—taking way too much time in implementation, or just ending up with a “great product without customers”.
My experience with LaunchX
One of the central reasons I preferred working solo was that I could never truly find the right team. After struggling with unmotivated and insincere team members a couple of times, I decided to just do everything myself.
LaunchX changed my experience with teams. The teaming process at LaunchX thoroughly understands each and every student’s visions, skills, and experiences to group them into teams that work together to create a dynamic founding team.
You can take my word on this—the teaming process is amazing. I was put in a team with four other students (from Hong Kong and South Korea) and we have become more of a family today. We have very diverse backgrounds, experiences, and skills—but we all envision an environmentally and economically sustainable future. Within a few discussions, we already knew what we wanted to do, and continued working on our company even after LaunchX. The very fact that everyone is internally motivated and passionate about our work streamlines all of our operations—everybody knows what to do, and even though we regularly debate on implementation, there are no second thoughts about our intent.
Put briefly—even if you take all the great things (mentors, simulations, discussions, etc.) out of LaunchX, I will still say that it is an amazing experience because of the people you will find there.
First of all, it’s completely fine to be a solo founder – there are several examples of successful companies that were started by a single person. That being said, having a team can significantly boost your progress and value. Finding team members may be hard, but it is definitely worth the effort—and if done right, certainly something you will cherish later.
Finally, if you are a high school student who is passionate about entrepreneurship, make sure you check out LaunchX! To learn more about the company that my team founded during LaunchX, you can visit our website at home.ecogohk.org.