Thoughts on Eship
Building a Founding Team
Finding a co-founder and building out a founding team is one of the most difficult and important tasks any startup faces. The founders will set the culture for the entire company and their skills must complement each other. Additionally, they must have strong working relationships and be able to interact positively with each other. When bringing on a co-founder or two, there are many aspects to consider, including size of the team, the relationship between each member, and the skills and roles each person brings.
As Michael Roach, the J. Thomas and Nancy W. Clark Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship, explains in his class, AEM 4380, “Most founding teams are between two and four people. Oftentimes, these founders will be coworkers or people who have know each other for a period of time.” Co-founders aren’t usually total strangers and the previous relationship between the parties has pros and cons. A lot of my close friends hope to found successful companies one day and I know they are excited about working on projects and small ventures. For all the projects I have helped start, I have worked with friends. But, as Professor Roach points out, there are inherent risks in working with close friends. Most prominent among these risks is the additional “pressure coming from disagreements with friends”, he explains. Furthermore, cohesion tends to be emphasized in groups of friends, which can lead to a groupthink mentality.
Beyond size and relationships, the skills of the founding team need to complement each other. The most efficient work will be done when tasks can be divided and each member has specifically outlined responsibilities. As a non-technical founder that has worked on technical projects, I have always tried to find a good technical co-founder to be CTO and ensure we are equipped to develop a stellar product. By being aware of your weaknesses, you can bring on talented individuals to fill in all the gaps.
There is much more to consider when finding co-founders and building the initial team, but throughout everything it is important to remember your goal is to build a team of people who are comfortable with each other, have strong working relationships, and are all equally excited to build the most amazing company possible.