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A Great team-average product or mediocre team-great product?

I've been handling the business development side of two startups (travel and NFP) and have gone through a few co-founders changes.

In March, I found a team whom I was happy to work with and they seem committed and passionate.

Fast forward to August, I find a couple of things that are starting to set off my alarm bells again:

1) We pivoted on the first bigger platform but it's gotten shelved by dying quietly. I've tried to hint about progress but found out the project's just been put on the back burner.

2) the main co-founder is technically sound but interested in many things. She posts many great ideas on Slack, talks we can attend but I find myself questioning why not the project if there is time on hand.

I'm not sure if it's my personality where I find I do not have time, there's just no rewind on life.

My question is, does it seem to be a personality clash or I need to give the team more time to develop the technical side of the platform.

18 Replies

Martin Omansky
2
0
Martin Omansky Entrepreneur
Independent Venture Capital & Private Equity Professional
It is an old story. Focus on one thing and prove that you can do it well. We see lots of entrepreneurs here (Boston Area) who have a million ideas. We angel investors hate that. Ideas atr not businesses. Prove to us that you can execute, and we will back your next idea, but not before you show us some initial success. Sent from my iPhone
Udhaya Kumar Padmanabhan
0
0
CXO/Head of UX - Omnichannel. Investor, Strategist, Demand Architect. Problem Solver.
Was the pivot by choice or by design? No matter how great a pivot turns out to be or crashes, it is preceded by something else that didn't make sense or needed a tweak. Was the pivot agreed upon through consensus or was it pushed down the throat?

Having tons of ideas is good and being a solid techie is great, BUT execution is key and Martin has rightly elaborated on what is a minimum success factor. End of the day Nothing is worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept!

You haven't mentioned your interests in this gig (have you invested? are you a co-founder?), but what is important is to stay glued to the greater cause/vision and move towards it with relentless focus. If chinks appear, the best approach is to take the bull by it horns - talk it out, gain a common understanding and an agreement, post which everyone is mandated to do their bits and the success factors are monitored rabidly. Else, there are plenty of fish out there.

Good luck and do keep us posted on how it pans out.
Vinod Keni
1
0
Vinod Keni Entrepreneur
Management Consultant, VC & Finance Professional, Advisor, Angel Investor & Business Builder
This is common! Focus on one thing and execution is very hard for a lot of the entrepreneurs. Give them deadlines and keep them focused. Have them break down the entire idea/product into well defined mile-stone based projects with deadlines and do not let the team veer off into la-la land! Ideas are dime a dozen, but taking the idea and executing it, selling and making money is the ultimate goal! Good Luck.
Maxine Pierson
1
0
Maxine Pierson Advisor
INTERIM CEO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR/ VP Investor
Remember Sully who saved the plane; the best yacht will sink with a marginal captain- a great captain can bring in a raft..
Sushil Shirke
2
0
Sushil Shirke Entrepreneur
Founder, CEO @ Conexstra
I quite agree with Martin & Vinod - it's "execution" all the way down. Based on my own experience & into my 3rd startup as a tech-founder, there are clearly two gears for any startup.

The first being that of "product / service evolution through innovation" and second that being of "customer / market adoption, acceptance & feedback loop". You need a fairly balanced team to get these two gears working in harmony. The moment any of these turn slow or fast and get out of sync, you will notice kind of pivots or situations that you just mentioned.

If there are no real customers to support the product/service feedback loop, the idea gear keeps on spinning faster and you see too many projects / features / modules etc being piled up. I guess its time to find out where the real problem is and get it sorted out before the gears have overrun and burnt out.
Neil Licht - HereWeAre
0
0
Want To find-close Business Online without competition Before They Google Search? We solve this problem 1(508)-481-8567
Yourselected team is not focused on getting done what you need done. Don'twaste time with this team. I don't see any real correlation between what you formedup to do and what your team members want to do or will actually take on as a project to do.

Try this solution:

Clearly define what your objectiveis, why, what the end result will look like, the markets, what you will offer that can and will be used, its advantages, how the end user will need to easily use what you design or offer without being technical themselves, precisely what each team "title" must actually and with conviction focus on and do.

Have you done that on paper? If not do it.

Then, when looking for a team, you will know what types of skills are needed and interview for finding not only the skills, but the drive, desire and ability to use them focused on your project.

BTW, you may want to talk with local universities and colleges and the appropriate departmentsto find that teamsince they have many qualifiedstudents and graduates that can fit.
Matthew Owen
1
0
Matthew Owen Entrepreneur
Chief Information Officer, MeetBall
Only be a part of great teams, no matter what the situation and/or idea. Their execution track record trumps almost every other attribute of a team.
Jim Bowes
0
0
Jim Bowes Advisor
Promoting and producing sustainable natural-media techniques
Great team hands down. I started with a great team even though they had little experience. They were driven, motivated and were in it for the right reasons. We started to grow quickly, I panicked brought in a more experienced team. They were in it for all the wrong reasons and drove the business into the ground.
The lesson for me is that you have to surround yourself with the right people that will function as a team and strive to meet a common goal. The CV's, the experience, the network? Means nothing. Same idea, two different teams. Who would have thought the young, idealistic, inexperienced team would be so much better than the experienced suits.
Live and learn.
Richard Janezic
0
0
Richard Janezic Advisor
Growth and Digital Strategy, Sales, and Services; Transformations in Tech, Healthcare, Life Sciences
Your title asks a different question than your narrative. I concur with the remarks above, but have 2 quick questions to more clearly understand your observations:

First, what is your definition of great? Committed and passionate help, but a code-and-hope strategy (if I interpret what you said correctly) is expensive.

Technically capable, or business and technically capable? Capable ofproducing great code, or capable of correctly understanding problems that clients have AND are willing to buy, AND THEN producing great code/products that meet or beat alternative client options?

They are similar, but they are not the same.

Might be time to search for either stronger leadership or running shoes.
Shrutin Shetty
0
0
Shrutin Shetty Entrepreneur
Design Strategy Consultant. Helping bold & innovative companies grow faster.
Hi Bernard,

With the limited info to go on, here's my view on this.
Personally, I'd always pick 'great team-average product'; reason being, the great team can fix an average product and perhaps create a dozen more. However, an average team with a great product could just be a stroke of luck, but doesn't promise consistency.

That said, we need to understand what 'great team' means. People that just gel well, or enjoy spending time with each other is not a great team. If that were true, we could've just called on our buddies to run the show whenever we took off. A great team needn't like spending time with each otherinitially.

However, a great team must be one where each member feels as strongly about the objective or purpose of the company/ product as you do, because that is why all of you have come together; to accomplish something.
If that's not working as planned, take them outside of your work environment, and discuss frankly about the objective, the current status, and why things are shaping up as planned? Hope this helps. Good luck!
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