A good founding team equals a startup that will survive. A startup, after all, is about the team in the beginning.
It is hard to build startups. Much harder than doing a job. In startups, every job is your job. Not only are there thousands of things to be done, but each of those things is also a fire that needs to be put out.
Mario Andretti the famous racer once said,
If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.
This is equally applicable to startups as well. From the failing of a single plan to the failing of a complete idea, a startup sees many disasters during its lifetime. It is at every such critical juncture, of which there are countless many, that the importance of a great founding team is relevant. While the number of expectations from founders is always exceedingly huge there are a few qualities that become essential.
Every startup faces a doomsday situation regularly. While being intelligent could get you out of the situation having a tough resolve gives you the energy to be intelligent during such times. Resolve provides one with the determination to weather the storms.
2) Willingness to change
Strong headed resolve without the flexibility to consider the alternatives sounds doom for most new founders. They get so eagerly attached to their first idea that they forget to play their role of steering the company. Most entrepreneurs end up evolving along with their ideas during their startup journey.
This can only happen if there exists a willingness to change according to circumstances.
As an entrepreneur, one becomes obsessed about building something and achieving milestones in a time-bound manner. This obsession requires you to feel attached to your idea. The more you sell your startup the stronger you become attached to the outcomes. This becomes a crippling loop if something goes wrong.
One must be detached from the outcomes at all times. That doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t strive for success. It just means that one must be unaffected in the face of failure.
Naval Ravikant says,
“You’re selling a story to everyone, and every time you sell a story, you sort of trap yourself a little bit more, adding more on your shoulders. You keep taking additional stress every time, and over a long period, it weighs you down,”
A bit of good advice on detaching from outcomes by Naval is to be more process-oriented, and less goal-oriented.
Paul Graham believes that most successful founders do not shy away from breaking rules.
Though the most successful founders are usually good people, they tend to have a piratical gleam in their eye. They’re not Goody Two-Shoes type good. Morally, they care about getting the big questions right, but not about observing proprieties. — Paul Graham
At times what a startup needs is a hack to get itself out of a rut. That hack may not be entirely legal but also need not be a crime. Using the gray zones to your advantage then becomes a moral burden that successful founders must have the power to bear.
That doesn’t imply committing evil but rather a penchant for being imaginative about achieving goals.
Most successful startups had strong intra-founder trust. Most VCs and Accelerators look for deep bonds between the founders. These deep bonds keep them together when trouble rocks the boat.
Startups do to the relationship between the founders what a dog does to a sock — if it can be pulled apart, it will be. (PG)
Intra-founder relations should be very strong. Statistically, more successful founders have come in pairs or trios. So, if you know a friend from second grade, go catch up with them.
Founders are the foundation on which a startup is born. This foundation needs to be extremely strong for the startup to grow higher. Having been a part of 3 startup founding teams I can attest to these mantras that the famous Naval and Paul Graham preach.