What is The Correct Team Composition For My Startup?
Ms. R posted on Telegram: We are happy to let you know that we added A, B and c features to our website. These features are a game changer in our local online [reserved] market, what no other competitor has thought, nor offered to the customers.
I looked at their website and did a quick check. She was right.
Brilliant ideas were implemented in their platform. The team did a great job. So I thought perhaps I could learn more about their plans… I sent her a PM).
Koorosh: So, may I know more about your startup please (after I introduced myself).
Ms. R: Sure, these features,…. (on and on about the features).
Koorosh: Thanks, may I know more about your marketing strategy; for example, what is your current market share? Or what channels are you marketing your new features? If these are unique features in the local domain, then how are you capitalizing on them? etc.
The above conversation is real, happened today. There are startups in emerging markets that have a great team, offer a great service and have a great vision,… but they need some planning and marketing strategy to harvest the commercial benefits of their efforts.
It is very natural that the founder or the founding team come purely from tech background. I love it when they talk passionately about the new features they have added to their App (some are very impressive). But the point is, the founders of a startup need to understand that they are not in a tech business for sake of tech development. They are in a business, that tech is one of the tools to create value, serve it to the customers and make revenue, and hopefully leap ahead of the competitors and keep the blue ocean blue.
So, my advise to startup founders in emerging markets is to network 360 from day one. You need to have a group of different skills around you when the time is right. If this is a self-funded startup (as many in emerging markets are) you need your tech team to build the App or the website. But before that, you would need people with marketing skills to help you understand customer pain points, so the tech team builds your MVP for ultimate customer experience. The first step, in my opinion, is to meet with customers and listen to them; build a simple product, show it to them, seek feedback, and refine the product. This cycle would go on until you have the MVP ready.
At this stage, you have learned a lot about your customers (even sub-segments), sales cycles, a range of product/service fee you can charge, what features should be in to engage 80% of the customers, does your product/service have a unique competitive advantage (better have), your competitors and their positioning, …
When you have the MVP it is time to expand the team and invite commercial, strategy, operations, legal and investors into the circle. All these people are needed to help plan for launching the startup. This is the point that the legal structure of the company is forming, or reforming.
Please share your experience in forming startup teams. Feel free to ask questions.
Tags: #StartupTeam #EmergingMarketsTechStartup
A community builder, facilitator, startup mentor and angel investor. Koorosh has inspired and built teams in Canada and the UK as well as several emerging markets. He consults with VCs, funds, angel groups and startups on funding, financial planning, deal structuring, niche validation, pivoting, and go-to-market strategy.