There’s a pattern I have noticed about some successful startups that have all grown into unicorns or large corporations.
The pattern of hiring very experienced and matured business executives to join the startup team (especially at the early growth stage). Dear startup Entrepreneur, to build a startup that will experience the right growth, you need more than an innovative idea and excitement of being a founder.
Let me show you two examples;
Hopin, an all in one event management platform, hired the former advisor to Jeff Bezos and Amazon grocery tech executive Wei Gao, as Hopin’s new COO and board member. In February 2020, Hopin had only 8 employees and last month August 2021, Hopin has 800 employees and has raised $450 million in series D funding.
Sheryl Sandberg was recruited as Facebook’s first COO in 2008. Facebook started experiencing growth since its founding in 2004, and founder Mark Zuckerberg felt that someone more experienced in management (such as Sandberg) was needed to supervise the daily operations of the company. She therefore brought in massive experience from Google.
I can give you many other examples. The place of Innovative experience is critical in building a business and even making it in life. Mentorship is critical for young people. Handling the issues of life like career growth, marriage, betrayal, pressure, finances, etc require some level of deep practical experience of people who have walked that path with some proven results.
Why is this an important pattern for startups in Cameroon to follow? #Startups in Europe and America go to the extent of giving equity to these experienced executives so they can stay and own the vision.
A startup in Europe reached out to me a few months back to join their team as Chief strategy officer for Africa and Africa board member with an equity stake in the business. They said (paraphrasing) “We need someone with your skills and energy base in Africa to work and lead us on our African blue print and this is what we are willing to offer you”
Here is why smart startup founders do this;
1. Experienced executives bring structure and balance to the startup. This is critical for sustainability.
2. They teach the start-up team best corporate practices that will lead to a powerful culture of results and consistency.
3. Building credibility and trust for the startup. Imagine investing in a startup in Cameroon and you see a document stating the general manager of Ecobank is on the board of directors.
Dear #Entrepreneur, let me break your heart. Because you are the founder, doesn’t necessarily you are the right person to manage that business as the executive. You can be a founder material, but not an executive material. Know where you belong. There are different skills to start a business and there are different skills to managing and expanding a business.
Note: This is an except from my numerous articles I have written in the course of my Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) Program with Kesmonds International University