Note on New Venture Teams

By Dennis Rohan, Claire Magat Raffaelli
2010 | Case No. E361 | Length 11 pgs.

A new venture team is composed of the founders, employees, and advisors who will guide an idea from its formation stage into a fully functioning company. Each of these groups plays an important role in growing the venture and putting it on the path to success. This note will explore the myriad factors to be considered when forming a new venture team. While strategy and implementation may depend on the industry, product or service, and target customer, the core tenets of forming a team will be consistent regardless.

Above all, founders must instill a commitment to and passion for the idea: A compelling vision will attract a stellar team. Founders must also be deliberate about culture; this requires determining one’s own personal definition of success and assuring that it is aligned with that of other team members. As important as culture is makeup: new venture teams should be a carefully balanced blend of backgrounds, functional skills, and industry expertise. Lastly, as their company grows, founders must be thoughtful in hiring employees as well as choosing advisors and investors. Issues of ownership must be considered. This note explores each of these issues in detail and provides anecdotes of successful teams which spent the time to get the group balance right before moving onward to build a product or seek funding. It incorporates the perspective of investors who have seen great ideas fail and succeed, based on the strength of the founding team.

Learning Objective

This note is designed to help students think through the type of working environment they wish to create, and how to decide the types of colleagues to add to a successful start-up team.

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