How to Start a Start up. Lecture 2. Team and Execution

In this lecture on Team building and Execution, Sam Altman tell us the importance of having cofounders and what elements we need to focus on to sustain a company.

Pick a rocketship! Choose a company that is already working before everyone else realizes it!

1. Ideas

How do you deal with a burnout as a founder?

Having a burnout sucks and you just have to keep going with it. Unlike students where you can say Im burned out and just quit, when you are working on a startup its real life. You cant just quit you have to keep going and get through it. There are no breaks in life and you have to be able to rely on a team to support you through it. The only way to work through this issue is the address the problem that is going. Trust your instincts.

2. Cofounders
The most successful startups today are companies who have great cofounders. The number one cause of a companys death is having lousy cofounders. Some of the most successful companies today were companies who had two to three cofounders.

A cofounder has five jobs in a start up:
1. Set the vision
2. Raise money
3. Evangelize
4. Hire and Manage
5. Make sure the entire company executes
Delegate tasks and make sure everything is getting done. Have goals in mind. If you work too long on small things no one will notice. A good way to keep momentum up is to have a set operating rhythm.

What to look for in a cofounder
-One of the best places to find a great cofounder is through school.

-Someone who is calm and tough. You want your cofounder to be tough when making some of the companies crucial decisions and you want them to stay calm when problems surface.

-Splitting equity: Equity between cofounders should be equal. A cofounder should not feel more important than the other. If you or your cofounder think one deserves more equity than the other you should be questioning if they are the right cofounder to choose for your company.
-Give teams credit for their success and take credit for any losses or failures.

What not to look for in a cofounder
-Dont choose randomly: By choosing a cofounder randomly you risk not having a strong support system and more disagreements down the road. Looking at the track record of successful companies those who previously knew their cofounder were more successful than those who chose at random.

3. Hiring

-Dont do it! When you are first starting a company the best way to hire is to not hire. The fewer amount of employees you have the lower the burn rate and less you have to pay. The cost of hiring wrong early puts a company at a huge risk of collapsing.

-Dont wait too long. Sometimes when a company takes off founders underestimate how hard it is to recruit. It could easily take a year to convince someone that your company will be successful and to trust in it and work with you.

-Communication with employees is very important. Are they comfortable reporting to you and asking questions?

-Dont be stingy. Companies where employees receive more equity than investors retain employees and are more successful.

-Fire fast. If an employee turns out to be a bad fit for the company they should be immediately let go. It is in the companys best interest to fire anyone who is creating a negative environment inside the company.

Does experience matter?
– Dont hire someone who is mediocre. Will you bet the future of your company on this single hire? This is something every cofounder should be asking themselves when hiring employees. Contact personal references and referrals before you take any risks.

– Sometimes the best hires are those who have no experience. When hiring companies should look for employees with aptitude. Are the smart? Do they get things done? And do you want to spend time with this person?

Airbnb took five months to hire their first employee. In order for their company to be successful aribnb wanted their employees to eat, breath, and live for its success.

Jun, 01, 2016