Three essential partners in a founding team

A few weeks before my graduation from the MBA, I set up the opportunity to have a quick lunch with my Negotiations professor, another nerd I dearly admired. While we spent most of the time navigating his career choices so that I can be guided with mine, we were also able to stir the discussion to a topic of our mutual interest–Entrepreneurship.

“When it comes to setting up your own company, the right time is when you’ve met these three essential partners for your founding team: a passionate products guy, a persuasive sales person, and a stingy numbers kid.”

The passionate products guy

They have the vision of creating the best product the world would ever see. They are not only creative but they also have the skills to deliver the product to its completion. They’re typically driven by recognition, and the chance to be remembered for coming up with such an iconic product.

A persuasive sales person

They can sell anything, no matter how bad the product is. They have large networks and great intuition to hone in on what the market needs and when they need it. They know the value of top-line growth, and how it can impact their bonuses. So when they set a goal, you know they’ll deliver.

A stingy numbers kid

They are good with numbers… and holding onto cash. That said, they serve as the conscience of the group because the two other folks want to spend the money. Their motivation lies in making superior (shareholder) value–the attempt to maximize alpha (risk-adjusted returns) out of the limited resources.

Of course, no founding team is perfect and these competencies can actually be distributed to multiple persons, or in some teams it takes only one person. While there is no one-size-fits-all mix, or a guarantee that teams with this composition works 100% (because there are other important factors), conceptually having this kind of setup should at least increase the chances of success.

The bottom-line is to network–you’ll never know who you’ll meet and where their contributions can take you.



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