Start Up Blog

Building a startup team

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 24, 2012

This weekend I’ve been a mentor at the #SAPIhack event in Melbourne down at the York Butter Factory. During the event I was having a chat with Frenchie about what makes a great technology based startup team and he gave me the best answer I’ve heard yet.

The 3H.

The 3 core skill sets you need in a team are the following:

A Hacker

A Hipster

A Hustler

You can probably guess what they are but let me give you a little explanation of each. The Hacker is the code monkey. The development guys who knows how build or construct the actual thing. The Hipster is your design guru, the UI guy, this person has a style sensibility to them and knows how to make ‘it’ beautiful, desirable and usable. The last guy, the Hustler is the deal maker, the dream seller, the phone call maker and snake charmer.

You get the point – but it’s a great and simple way to structure a team. And we all need each other. It’s a rare situation indeed when one person can do it all. And it’s probably impossible to have the time to do it all even if you are a 3H-er. The other thing it points to is the oft divergent personality types that are needed and that there is room for all of us in startup land.

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Economic irrationalist

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 16, 2010

Lately I’ve been making a few decisions which are economically irrational. Making decisions which are, on the face of it, financially inept.

For example, I starting to feel a sense of loyalty to my chief technology officer for rentoid.com

He’s not the cheapest and he’s not the best. Probably somewhere in the middle for both. I could probably get someone cheaper with similar skills, or better for the same price. But I don’t. In fact I tell him that I’m loyal to him. A large part of why I want  to succeed so that he can succeed also, to share it with him. Even though he has not risked the capital, or the time that I have on the project.

Why would I act this way. Well I like working with him. He’s a nice guy, and sometimes that’s enough.

I guess you could call me an Economic Irrrationalist. And it just feels right.

ABC 7.30 report – Virtual Offices

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 5, 2010

I was fortunate enough to feature in a story on the ABC 7.30 report this week. The topic was on virtual offices and digital offshoring. My business rentoid got a nice little plug which is a bonus on a non-commercial channel. The opportunity arose from this newspaper article I was in on the topic in the Sydney Morning Herald. Which goes to show media exposure also has a compounding effect for your startup as well.

Although the story and offshoring in general has it’s detractors (unions love the status quo, unless it involves profit increases they want a share in). I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve worked with talented people in developing markets.

  • My team get paid more than they’d get locally.
  • I’ve helped team members get more work, and mentored them in building their own businesses.
  • I like investing in developing markets because improves living standards.

It’s our job as entrepreneurs to create positive situations with tech innovations, and there’s no doubt in my mind having an overseas team does this, while building a business with beneficiaries locally (employees, revenue, community) as well.

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Startup tip

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on May 10, 2009

Celebrate effort, not results.


Effort always leads to results, but great results are sometimes just luck.

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People & Compound Damage

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on March 27, 2009

No doubt your new start up will face issues. Many of them will be people related. Some will be things simply not getting done or not working once you press the on switch. If issues arise and remain unresolved within 24 hours you will start to suffer Compound Damage. This is particularly the case with suppliers and staff. All things in life compound, it is just natures way.  Consider this with all problems and general stuff ups.

If you ignore them they will go away, along with your business.

Tough Love

My problem is…. I’m a really nice guy. Really, I’m reasonably nice, just ask anyone who knows me….

Actually it’s more I’m not as smart as I’d like to think I am. You see, often I don’t do people any favours by trying at all costs to be, Mr Nice Guy. Even if it’s at the expense of helping them grow. The interesting thing is that I usually get what I give, and that is, people are generally very nice to me. Even if what I need on occassions, is some home truths to help me grow.

What I really need is tough love.

Turns out my team also need some tough love too.

tough-love

Tough Love – Startup blog definition:

Having a team let each other know ‘in no uncertain terms’ when members are goofing off, at the expense of agreed upon and shared objectives.

It doesn’t mean we turn into nightmare colleagues or the boss we always hated.

It means that we have a culture where we don’t want to let each other down, but we pull each other up in tough times and provide mutual motivation. We give each other guidance when we need it.

Photo by Chuck Rogers

Words by Steve – rentoid.com

Nature or Nurture?

I noticed this morning that a particular area of my box hedge isn’t growing as well as other areas. See the two photos below.

hedge1 hedge2

In order to remedy the situation I thought about what the different things I could do:

  1. Ensure the poor performing area was getting enough water
  2. Make sure the soil wasn’t poisoned in that particular area of the garden
  3. Remove the weeds from the periphery
  4. Add some fertiliser to the struggling area
  5. Aerating the soil with a hoe
  6. Ensure the area is getting enough sun

In fact, I’ll try the methods above. What I wont do is ‘remove’ the box hedge. I really need it because it forms part of the garden perimeter. It provides the required symmetry. It’s an integral part of the garden. I will give it the extra attention it deserves, and talk to it. I won’t pretend it will fix itself, because I know that is just a fantasy.

So, why do we take the opposite view with our staff / employees or business partners? We rarely ask first what we can do, and most often just ‘cut them out’, get rid of them, or even chastise their performance, before we look at the reasons for it. Maybe they:

  1. Aren’t getting enough cash to do their part?
  2. Maybe their part of the organisation has structural issues?
  3. Maybe they have non functional ‘hangers on’ stealing time & resources?
  4. Maybe we need to invest in some training or programs to boost the area?
  5. Maybe we need to give them more space & freedom to perform?
  6. Maybe we are not providing enough reward & recognition?

You’ve probably noticed how many of our people problems have strong analogies to my box hedge. In fact, both nature and people, need nurturing.

Steve – founder rentoid.com

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