30 things: Part 7/7: PEOPLE : 30 things I learned from my startup experience

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This is part 7/7 of my series 30 things I learned from my startup experiences. In this final part, I will be talking about creating the first team, running the teams (sales and tech), overall tips and then there is a section on choosing your co-founder. There are slides on what happens when things do go wrong, or if there is a fall out and what are the ways out. And finally some tips on learning and networking as well.

Transcript of 30 things: Part 7/7: PEOPLE : 30 things I learned from my startup experience

Slide 1

things that I learned from my startup experience

PART 7 People, Learning& Emotions

Suhas Dutta

The poor man who enters into a partnership with one who is rich makes a risky venture.Plautus

So far

In the previous part of this series, we went through my experiences from marketing and selling.

This is my last set of slides of this series and I will cover multiple people related topics viz. people, building your team, emotions and partnership. Much of what I write you will see in action, and will feel somewhat intangibly.











Be practical and realistic

No one wants to fail, and one should not plan for that. But, being aware that most startups fail, is just being practical. This is something that your team needs to understand as well. Per an infographic that I remember reading:25% startups are likely to survive long term, and about 47% startups are expected to survive >5 years.Independent restaurants, direct sales, retail stores and consulting types of businesses are most likely to fail.

But let this not stop you from being a startup guy or gal!

Basic attitude, work style

Dont startup for money. If you get your product right, check all boxesmoney will happen at a point of time. Have patience. You will not be a millionaire overnight. Luck does play a part, but will not get you business, customers, goodwill or money. You will need to work very hard, and very smart.Be convinced about the journey you are about to undertake. Even if you fail, you would have learned a lot in the process. It really is worth the journey.

Half full

Half empty

Put two cubes of ice in, and drink it!

Basic attitude, work style

Your mindset has to be that of an entrepreneurs as has to be your lifestyle.Have fun sometimes, break free. Keep your hobbies alive. Read. Start your day early, it really does help. Get a head start.Get hands on, be a leader and not a manager.

Half full

Half empty

Put two cubes of ice in, and drink it!

TIP: Ask yourself the same question every morning what can you do to increase value for your clients and your team?

Building and running a team

These are from my experiences about building and running a team in general, not just in a startup.Finding the right talent is important. Hire the right person for the job, instead of the best salesperson you can find. It could be a person from a different industry too. I felt providing feedback and coaching in the moment helps change behaviour. Feedback at appraisal time is late.

Building and running a team

Empowering people enabled them to take initiative and often move faster. as opposed to micro-managing. Conveying my teachable point of view, has helped me in the past. Though this might or might not be effective or appreciated in all environments. Assembling the founding team is an early super important activity and is the hallmark of a successful entrepreneur.

Building and running your sales team

These people will bring money in, and are as important as your tech team if not more. Process:Some strategy and some process are important. But over engineering this stuff doesnt seem to help much. What you do need to create is perhaps a cadence and culture for the team. Managing the forward pipeline and using it to churn a meaningful forecast is important. Besides others, your investors will be happy to receive this forecast report.

Some of what I write here holds for any sort of team that you build, sales or otherwise.

Building and running your sales team

Managing performancePerformance management and related compensation are things to obsess about. Setting KPIs is the first and most important task for a new hire. As perhaps is setting and agreeing upon a performance based commission plan. The largest chunk of the compensation must come from commissions based on achievable and stretch targets.Winning is good, and fun. Celebrate wins, let people know.

Building and running your sales team

While you look at individuals consider the team as a whole as well and try to identifyAddress worrisome patterns of behaviour among the team or individuals immediately.Stars and mavericks would need to be treated somewhat differently.Enable them, empower them with technology. Be relentless with this, so that they can spend more time with a client or a prospective client. So, protect their time from non-productive tasks. Most sales teams that I have seen are managed, and not necessarily led.

Building and running a Tech team

Not all tech folk were created equal (usually) this tech person is not working in a large tech company because he /she wouldnt fit in there, or wouldnt qualify. So temper your expectations a bit. But there are techies who are startup specialists too, and these are folk who will carry your product / company.If you are not a techie:Feel free to challenge their observationsDo some research on your own, read upDon't take their word for it, and feel free to get outside help from friends, ex-colleagues etc.

Building and running a Tech team

Set some of your expectations right (whether you are a techie or not)Get used to stuff breaking.But formulate a mechanism to get stuff back up quick.Dont expect them to understand business impact (usually) or be concerned.Basic sense of quality / processes will often be missing. All this will have to be built.Let them understand throwing hardware to a software problem is not the expected solution. Get your tech team to work with a budget that you will approve but they will manage.

TIP: Build collaboration between your business and technology teams. All need to understand the business goals of the company.

Your co-founder / partner

Pick and choose your co-founder very carefully. It really is like getting married, and will have a long and deep impact on your business and well being.Choosing an incompatible /bad partner will ruin your business, your mental peace and health.Try to pick someone who you have worked with in the past. I not, ensure you do a thorough background check. Look for integrity, professionalism, perfection, basic hygiene factors (like punctuality for instance) and commitment.

One of the largest reason s for startup failure is founder fallout. Really!

Your co-founder / partner

In most cases, there is no such thing as an equal partnership. Desire for power, money etc does change people. To avoid future conflict, one of the two (or more) needs to have primacy; Not just verbally but also on paper. In the agreements that you create and in corporate documents (e.g. AOA or MOA), power distribution and rights need to be listed out. Sounds very nasty, but trust me on this.Many startups damage themselves because of co-founder conflict. It is better to part ways early than later when more is at stake.

Your co-founder / partner

If you perceive you are carrying deadweight, get that off your chest early and if required, part ways. Do not tolerate lack of commitment, bad behavior towards a customer or financial irregularities even once.If conflict breaks out and it starts turning ugly, do remember dont wallow with a pig in mud. You will get dirty, and the pig enjoys it.There are ways to shut down, and startup again quickly. Your investor might be able to guide you how. If not, reach out to me and I will tell you how.

TIP: The culture that the founders demonstrate will percolate through the company

Networking, Learning

Control the urge to spend too much time networking assuming you will generate a lot of business. But do attend some workshops, some networking events. Be selective. Okay to go to some training events, and appropriate to send team members once in a while as well. Go to some TIE events, you will find likeminded people ready to lend a helping hand too. TIE also provides free co-working space; use it once in a while. Go to some investor meet type events as well. You will find investors, fellow entrepreneurs, potential customers and some entertainment.

If you feel down and out

Feeling insecure, experiencing fear will all happen. There will be periods of lull, depression and failure. It will be difficult to keep your chin up, and you will find your confidence wanting. You might keep bumping into naysayers as well. What kept me buoyant in difficult times are:Considering the world around me and recognizing that there are people who are less fortunate, and being thankful for what I have / had. Considering the amazing people I have in my life.Considering how I have overcome obstacles in the past, with perseverance and patience.Remembering my strengths as an individual, and remembering my past successes.

and take a break once in a while. Run away somewhere. Avoid a burn out!

As you go about doing your business, here are my last three pointers. I will let you interpret this on your own. Jump in, be an entrepreneur, have fun!


Every secondis important. Move fast.


Know the perfect spot to bein.


React tothe customer, be ready for their next move.

Oh well, maybe they were not 30much more than that. I had started with a sheet of 30 bullet points, but as I started creating the slides the 30 increased. and hopefully it has been worth the effort jotting all this down. and hope you have enjoyed reading through the material. If this material does help even one fellow entrepreneur, I would consider my effort successful.

Have questions or feedback? Write to me. If you need a little help in term