Team Formation: 4KTA

Naveen Bisht
Naveen Bisht
Board Member and Chair, 
TiE Silicon Valley
Team Formation is the key for an entrepreneur in commencing his journey after starting his own company. I would like to provide four key take away (4KTA) points on this topic that are not typically covered in books, for aspiring entrepreneurs. These are mostly based on my own experience and other entrepreneurs whom I have been associated with over the years. Note that these are not in any particular order of importance.

1. Chemistry – It is really important that there is a strong chemistry between the founders of a startup company. In one of The Indus Entrepreneur (TiE) My Story program events recently held here in Silicon Valley, featuring Anand Rajaraman, Founder of Junglee.com, acquired by Amazon.com and Kosmix.com, acquired by Walmarts.com, someone from the audience asked Mr. Tsuyoshi Taira, Former Chairman of Sanyo, Founding Chairman and investor in Junglee, what made him invest in Junglee. Mr. Taira, having been a semiconductor veteran, had no idea about search technology and knew only one founder and did not know other three co-founders, still students at Stanford at that time. His answer was one simple word: Chemistry. He explained further what he meant was that he could sense that there was a great chemistry among these four co-founders who seem to be having fun together. Purely, based on that instinct, he and a group of his friends provided the seed capital to co-founders of Junglee that was sold to Amazon.com for several hundred million dollars within less than three years of its founding.

2. Trust - This is the second quality I would look for in teaming up with other individuals while forming a core team for starting a new company. It is important to document the basic understanding and agreement in terms of roles and responsibilities, equity agreement among co-founders and the time and resource commitments. However, you do need to have the core element of trust beyond any legal paperwork. If you do not really trust one another or one of them, no matter how airtight your agreements are, it will not succeed, as everyone will be second-guessing each other and hence, the start-up will fail. I remember in my first startup company, Ukiah Software Inc., one of my team members used to tell this story that one time, when he was getting a multi-million dollar agreement signed by the vice president of a multi-national in his previous job, the executive told him if he ever had to pull the agreement back from the drawer to read it again, that would be the last day of business partnership. Quite insightful. People do business with people and reason they do business with the people they know is that they trust them.
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