Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The ideal founding team

If you're starting a new company and wondering what your founding team should look like, you have several options.
  • The all engineering team
  • The all MBA team
  • The 50/50 Team
  • The 1:2 Team
  • Going Solo
Which option you choose is highly dependent on what you plan to build, whether or not you've started a company before, or if you even have the luxury of choosing (I think personality fit is by far the most important deciding factor, but that's for another post).

The all engineering team

Engineering should always be the focus and core competency of your team. It sounds obvious, but your company exists in order to build a good product. Great marketing and sales will get you in the door, but without great engineers, your company will wither and die. That said, an all engineering team lacks the marketing and sales that get you in the door, especially for an enterprise software company.

The all MBA team

If you don't have an engineer in your founding team, your chance of success drops significantly. This is the reason why so many VCs and angels have publicly stated that they avoid investing in non-technical founding teams.

The 50/50 team

50% engineering, 50% non-engineering. Make sure that the non-engineer on the team is a product manager that can also do sales, not the other way around. Most teams that fall into this category in my experience end up with an overworked engineer and an underworked product manager, which means you'll be raising money early to hire more engineers and getting diluted at sub-optimal terms.

The 1:2 Team

2 engineers, 1 product manager. In my experience, this is by far the best combination. The work load is distributed evenly for the early stages of the company and you can quickly build a prototype and get traction in order to raise money on favorable terms. Above is a venn diagram of the ideal skills and overlap of what I think is the perfect founding team. That said, for a consumer internet company that doesn't need sales, the product manager might end up being under-worked. This worked great for my company, but we do enterprise software.

Going Solo

If you're a 3-time successful entrepreneur with VCs clamoring to give you money at astronomical valuations without an idea, then this might be an option for you. Otherwise, this option is a death sentence.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why did we start Adku?

We started Adku to improve the world. That may seem like a grandiose vision, but we really believe that in order to create something that eventually does have the impact you want it to, you have to first believe that it's possible. 

We're still in stealth mode and aren't disclosing too much about our product now, but we can talk about how we came up with the idea. We'd known and worked with each other for almost six years at Google, and we naturally gravitated towards each other as we're all entrepreneurial spirits.

There were a few things that we wanted from any company we created:
  • Passion - We wanted to work on something we were very passionate about to the point of being obsessed. The kind of idea that you think about all the time (even in your dreams) and are willing to break through walls in order to deliver. Considering how much of your life you spend at your profession, it really shouldn't be seen as a chore, but rather as something you are excited to wake up and do every day. 
  • A difficult technical problem - We're all technical founders and we love computers and the power they bring. We wanted to create a solution that required large computing resources and that wasn't even possible to do as recently as one to two years ago. We're starting with real-time analysis of the vast data that's being created every second on the web and building a machine learning prediction engine to optimize eCommerce. 
  • Solving an actual problem - We wanted to create a company that solved a problem that people experience today. Every potential customer that we talk to very quickly understands the pain point that we are addressing. 
  • Culture - We want to work with people that are fun and are friends. We want every new hire to be smarter than every previous hire at the company. We want an environment where communication is 100% open and everyone feels ownership in the product and company. We're going to do this together!
From modest beginnings, we've all been fortunate to have been given great opportunities and skills in our lives. At Google we were responsible for products that are being used by billions of people, and we are even more excited about Adku. The first step in starting a company was the hardest, but as soon as we did it there was no doubt that it was the best decision we've made. 

Adku is the beginning of a new journey. As with anything, there will be ups and downs, but we believe in our vision and will obsessively listen to our customers and will solve their needs. We plan to listen closely to everyone who takes the time to tell us how we can be better. 

Please let us know if you are interested in learning more or in working with us! It's going to be an amazing ride.