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May 13, 2020

Lessons for a first-time entrepreneur — Part 1

The founding team is (almost) everything

Pressing challenges I encounter among the founding team can be attributed to these two points: incompatible skillsets or too much ego from one or more of the founders.

The wrong team can ruin everything before things even get started. When forming your team, look for people who complement your strengths and weaknesses. Don't invite someone who has the exact same expertise as you. The real value comes from others with experience, knowledge, and skills you don't possess. As an example, if you are the technical founder, you need people with business development and marketing skills to complement what you know. The success of a venture relies heavily on having these 3 skills among the founders. Don't cripple yourself before you even get started by thinking you can just wing it all.

The biggest hurdle typically comes from a founder who thinks he/she is better than everyone else. An unchecked ego will bring down your venture and create a toxic environment for everyone. Don't under any circumstance think that what you bring to a team is more valuable than what another person brings.

At the same time, don't be one of those who think you deserve 95% of the company, and the other person deserves only 5% because you are giving them the opportunity of their lifetime. If all of you are putting forth an equal amount of sweat equity, then all of you deserve a fair share of the company, no matter who you think is more valuable to the venture. Short-sightedness will surely chase away just about every intelligent person who could have made your venture a success.

On more than one occasion, I actually had people offer me 1-5% equity to build out their entire product because in their mind it is going to be worth billions, so 1% of many billions is a lot to pay to some random person they just met :)

Value you and your strengths as one of the pillars of your venture. Don't ever think that it's the only pillar and devalue and disrespect the rest of your team, and you will do great.

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