Working on the Spring 2016 issue we have talked to a wide number of startups and investors, and some of us have had time to be part of a failing startup since the previous issue too. Whether it’s a success or failure, most of the startup stories come back to one key ingredient: the people.
It is clear to all that there is little room for obnoxious consultants or lazy cover-up artists in an early stage startup – but they still end up working at startups.
How to avoid that?
Walk across the road when you see a consultant, could be an easy suggestion, but it is not always possible.
So-called soft skills are often overlooked when you compile a cofounder team.
At the same time, in the early stages, hiring is often the most crucial skill for the startup to succeed. It’s simple to say – you should hire people smarter than you – but executing on it is much tougher. Only life can teach you to do it; your average business school degree does not help here at all.
Most of our stories touch on this topic from one perspective or another. For example, we talk a lot about girls in our industry – they definitely offer the potential to bring soft skills to teams. But they might also be the ones bringing the balancing skills to make fantastic teams: just read about the love story of French startup Happy Couples.
Christian Buchenau, partner of Berlin-based Paua Ventures, says the investment firm has been able to stand out by being a service provider for startups. Even when they do not invest they have tried to help young entrepreneurs move forwards.
“We see so much talent, so many dedicated people here, so many young people who are risking everything, who are living for their companies, who are living for their idea. Who are waking up with their idea, going to sleep with their idea and why in the hell should somebody who listened to that idea for, I don’t know, 60 minutes or something, think he can be arrogant about that. No matter if we think the idea is not very good or whatever. It just doesn’t make sense at all.”
One can only agree.