Building the A-Team for Entrepreneurs

Building the A-Team was Headstart Jaipur’s theme for June 2020’s edition of Startup Saturday. This session saw Mr. Chintan Bakshi from Startup Oasis talk about the importance of teams in startups. 

Imagine a pot overflowing with ideas, skills, creativity, and zeal. A startup acts as an umbrella for all those virtues and more for every member that contributes to their work. It’s practically impossible to have a startup without a team- with a team you’re able to achieve the otherwise impossible milestones. 

Building the A-Team Poster

Entering the startup scene isn’t difficult- being able to survive here is. The fact is, great ideas fail. Why? Poor teamwork. The thing is, business isn’t just about being able to create a good product or service- it’s about how solid your organization is as a whole. Therefore, teamwork is one of the most important qualities of a successful startup.

With visual aid, Mr. Bakshi spoke at length about what constitutes of a standard startup team:

  1. Founder(s)

They ideally should comprise of 3 people with 4-8 years of experience. Take Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, founders of Flipkart, they’d worked with Amazon before they started their own venture. Let’s not forget Sriharsha Majeta, co-founder of Swiggy, who worked with Nomura before staring Bundl and Swiggy.

With 3 people, it’s easier for conflicts to be resolved. Open communication and clarity between the founders go a long way in the success of the startup. Along with that, he also talked about establishing an agreement between all the founders- one that divided responsibilities and priorities for each party.

While searching for Founders, answer two questions- Do we have a company without them? And can we find someone just like them?

Understand this, your company needs to be able to operate without your or your cofounders’ constant supervision. So, ideally, you should have a company without them- in the unfortunate case of a fallout. 

As for the second one, you should be able to find someone just like them! If you’re unable to do so, you along with your volunteers should be able to compensate for all the work that your cofounder did. 

2. Team

    1. Initial (Pre-funding)

You’re looking for great multi-taskers in your initial team. Early employees are assets- they’re doers and not thinkers. They need to be actively involved in all that happens. 

2. Core (Post-funding)

They further help drive the startup to achieve heights. You can set up the culture for the workplace with this group of people. Here, you also establish a formal structure- the best example for this would be the organizational structure of any FMCG company. He suggested the following structure:

Organizational Chart

When it comes to remuneration for either, salary or equity is a big question- one that continues to leave experts divided.

3. Mentors

Mentors make up for the experience that the founders and the team members lack. They are empathetic towards and passionate about startups. Usually, they come with above 10 years of experience- for incentive they’re often given equity. Mentors help the startup through regular interactions (Mr. Bakshi recommended interactions twice a month). 

Headstart recommends three different roles:

  • Coach: An Entrepreneurial Coach is one that offers pitching advice, advice for stress management, or for maintaining work-life balance. Their primary objective is to help form a viable structure for you and your startup.
  • Consultant: A Consultant is someone with expertise and experience to help make sure that you aren’t straying away from your desired goal. They advise you on how to execute your plan in a way you’re able to save time, money, and energy. 
  • Mentor: A Mentor is your friend throughout this gruelling process. They are your go-to person for anything and everything business-related, go in expecting honest discussions. They play an extremely important role in guiding the startup throughout your journey.

4. Advisors

Advisors are people with tremendous amounts of domain expertise. Their relationship with the startup isn’t as personal or casual as a relation with the mentor. These people needn’t be motivated about startups as such because their job is to give advice. They’re like a board of directors.

Soon after, he addressed questions from the audience. He talked about how equity and money were very effective incentives for startup employees. He also insisted that co-founders need to stay on the same page, stay together, and form bonds. 

When asked to advise all the audience members, he recommended hiring people with only 60% of the skills required. He said that they learn on the job and make up for the 40% that they don’t have and end up contributing a lot more than someone who has 100% of the required skills.

Key Takeaways:

  • “Retain the ability to work in cross-functional teams.”
  • “जुगाड़ करना सीखो”- hire people with only half the required skills so that they learn on the job. 
  • Your mentors will make up for your inexperience.

This webinar was super informative, extremely interactive- one that the attendees are going to remember for times to come.


Contributed by
Sanskriti Bhatnagar
Ecosystem Development Intern
Headstart Network Foundation