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Startups How the Right Team Can Make or Break You

Yesterday, we hosted our very first women entrepreneurial session, powered by women for women.  With no surprise, it was so inspiring to watch the women entrepreneurs mind share and help one another in such an honest and open setting.  There was an instant connection between them all...entrepreneurs wanting to take the world by storm and willing to help one another get there.  The fierce leader of the pack was our guest speaker, Dianna Mullins from Glam Media.  Dianna is a serial entrepreneur herself, starting her first company before she could even drive a car.  The topics and issues that surrounded yesterday's discussions included building a team at an early stage, how to hire the right people, retention, and finding the right group of advisers and investors.   Here were some of the highlights from Dianna and the group:
  1. Before you do anything,  it's important to know who your team is (regardless of it being one, five or six members, etc.).  As a founder, it's important to figure out what value you or the company will add to each individual in your team and vice versa. This will ensure that everyone has something to bring to the table and the goals and vision are the same across the board.
  2. Your team is the core of your company.  Whether it is the admin or the engineer, or the temp or the perm hire, everyone should be treated equally.  This will increase the likelihood of happy employees and longevity of a company.
  3. The Startup Wiggle - trying different levers to see which one takes.  Usually implemented at most early stage companies.  When building your team, find the individuals who are resilient and motivated to do the startup wiggle.  Choose people who have creativity, courage, and conviction.  You want someone who will challenge you, but also a balance so they're not constantly opposing you and your visions.
  4. Don't fear failure.
  5. When hiring, look for attitude, tone, and skill.  You want to make sure their attitude is the right fit, their tone is respectful and appropriate, and they have the skill set your company needs.
  6. Know who you are.  You have to know who you are as an individual, a company, and a founding team.  If you can't answer this, it will make it very tough (when hiring) for you to step into the other person's shoe and determine whether it is mutually beneficial for him/her and your team.
  7. Letting go of someone from your founding team can feel like a divorce.  So make sure you put a lot of thought and effort into who you are hiring.
  8. Advisors will give you connections to an area you don't have much knowledge or understanding in.  If you have someone in mind to play an advisory role, don't call them one right off the bat.  Build a relationship and see if they'll offer you advice or help you out with a project.  Some of the best advisors never have the official advisor title.  In finding the right advisor?  It's like courting, you just know.
  9. Figure out your plan, execute, check it, and repeat. Focus on the business first and then everything else will fall into place (fundraising, etc.).
  10. In sharing and selling your vision during the early days, you want to be like Tom Sawyer and get people to help you paint the fence.  It's sometimes boring as hell, but you want to be the first one who gets the party started.

Participating Companies:

Babylist - a baby registry that helps new moms discover, share and buy the things they need for their baby.

CaptureProof - creating and implementing innovative technologies that allow patients and practitioner to capture, share, search and analyze pertinent media.

Clever Girls Collective - a technology-driven social media company connecting  brands with social influencers while offering social influencers exciting content monetization.

KidAdmit - apply to multiple preschools and manage the admissions process in one place.

LocoMotive Labs - assistive and play-based learning applications to empower kids with special needs to be independent learners.

LookMazing - a fashion social network that rewards individuals for transforming outfit photos into shoppable looks.

Share Some Style - a community marketplace that connects people who need fashion advice with local stylists.

"You have to be naive to do what we do or else you wouldn't do it."
~ Dianna Mullins, Glam Media