Many times I’ve been asked, “How did you build your first startup team?” and I don’t have a great answer: it evolved slowly over time based on the needs of the business. This is especially the case with bootstrapped startups that are customer funded. For us, we followed the GPA (growth plan assets) model and hired our next person when the GPA was high enough.
Generally, I see this progression in building a startup team:
- Start with two co-founders, one in charge of product management and the other responsible for software engineering
- Add an engineer to as you work towards product/market fit, if necessary
- With product/market fit in sight, bring on a sales rep that is more of a mercenary than an order taker to assist the product management co-founder, who also acts as a sales engineer
- Next bring on a jack-of-all-trades that can do services/support/marketing
- Based on the startup’s specific needs, the next hire will likely be one of sales/marketing/services/support/engineering
The most important thing to do is to build a strong culture that stays close to the customer.
What else? What other experiences do you have building a startup team?