The primary focus when starting a business is normally building a product and reaching the fabled land of product market fit. There is less focus and discussion on building the leadership team.
Initially, this makes a lot of sense. When we began GO1 (the company I co-founded) it didn’t really matter who had what title: we were all pretty much responsible for everything. At the time I didn’t like to be referred to as the “CEO”—the title didn’t fit my role leading a handful of people.
But over the past three years I have spent an increasing proportion of my time thinking about leadership and how we can develop and grow the management capabilities of our team. On reflection, it’s clear that we were incredibly fortunate to draw on the complementary strengths of our founding team.
When starting a business, what comes first: the idea or the founding team? It’s a bit of a chicken or egg question. And for that matter, how large should the founding team be?
Y Combinator, which was the first investor in high growth startups such as Dropbox, Airbnb and Stripe, famously almost always refuses to back solo founders.
Growing a company can be a challenging process, and YC believes the odds are better when you have some co-founders. The initial team will also help shape the concept that you take to market.
For GO1, we started with four friends, most of us had known each other since high school. Our founding team comprised of a lawyer, medical doctor, engineer and an economist.