Minimum Viable Team > Minimum Viable Product

Dharmesh Shah often puts out some great articles so I was pleased to read one on Choosing a Minimum Viable Co-founder. Having spent a lot of time on that subject while running a site dedicated to helping people find co-founders, I enjoyed this sentiment:

They’re committed to the company, not just the current idea. Anecdotal data suggests that as fantastic as you may think your idea is, your idea will likely change…. If your co-founder is married to a specific manifestation of an idea, trouble will brew when the company is no longer pursuing that exact idea in that exact way. You need a co-founder that’s committed to the cause — and committed to you.

I only wish the emphasis was more on the people and not “the company” or “the idea.”

I have always found the pervasive quest to find a rockstar business guy or a ninja developer to be ridiculous, but the pursuit of someone who is “committed to the idea” is far more insidious because it’s less obviously flawed. Why wouldn’t you want a co-founder who’s in love with your idea?

You won’t be working on your big idea

The biggest issue with the big idea is that you rarely get to work on it and even if you do, the details of it are far less fun that sitting around your living room on your third or fourth beer dreaming about how cool the world will be and how much money you’ll make.

Startups kind of suck.

They’re also pretty awesome, but they frequently suck.

You’re a big data engineer! You’ve ready to build infrastructure to serve millions of people! You’re going to change the world and bring peace to cats and dogs!

So what are you doing on a day to day basis?

Optimizing the color of the signup button.

Reading the can-spam act to make sure you’re not about to be sued.

Yay.

Drop the confetti and ballons.

Let’s face it, there is a lot of tedium involved in a startup. The big dream is great, but you’re going to be focused tiny baby steps. So if your co-founder is only interested the grand scheme of things and can’t deal with the journey, find a new co-founder.

Companies aren’t People

chocolate chip pictureI hate to disagree with the Supreme Court, but the concept that companies have the exact same rights as people is the stupidest concept I’ve ever heard of outside of the Jimmy Dean Pancake & Sausage on a stick monstrosity…now with chocolate chips.

But I digress…

People aren’t committed to companies, they’re committed to people.

When a Facebook employee says they’re committed to Facebook the company, they’re lying. (More to themselves than to you.)

They’re probably committed to their co-workers, their boss, and of course…Mark Zuckerberg. You can bet that if Mark Zuckerberg went up and kicked them in the shins repeatedly, their love of Facebook the company would fade as quickly as the barrage of expletives were uttered.

Of course, there are people who are deeply committed to inanimate objects. But let’s put the people that are inclined to marry the Eifel tower aside. (Yep…check it out here.)

People are People

At the end of the day, your success as an entrepreneur depends upon other people.

People will be your co-founders, people will be your customers, and people will hold you up in the hard times.

Make sure you pick the right ones who are committed to you, as a person. Because a company will never remember your birthday.

Cheers,
Tristan

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Discussion (2 comments)

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  3. jen sutherland says:
    09.06.2017.

    One of the problems we have is finding a “co founder” within the business (large corporate) to own new ideas. The “not invented here” syndrome is especially prevalent when trying to find homes for new stuff. Our thinking is to validate the problem-solution fit and market fit, and then using that data as part of the “selling process”. Still not easy… and the potential of the idea evolving into something else is still there. Business owners can’t really buy into our company (team) or the people. Or can they?

    1. Tristan says:
      09.06.2017.

      It seems like validating a new product and then trying to sell it can lead to a lot of orphaned projects that never make it back into the core business and aren’t even allowed to be spun out.

      I think it’s worth it to establish a strong innovation thesis for the company AND each division so that we don’t work on projects which has no chance of getting the right business sponsor later.

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