The camaraderie and energy from having people in one place can't be replicated through connecting online. I have grown to hate "group conference calls". If you have never seen the Youtube video called A Conference Call in Real Life, watch it and you will understand what I mean.
I am seeking engagement of a team and the momentum that comes with engagement and I think that the ultimate in engagement is getting to co-found a venture, even one that has already accomplished a fair bit. That actually reduces the risk of taking a co-founder position, versus coming in on a blank slate.
The two people that I was talking about are the core team, but they are not the only hires. Once we have the core team in place as co-founders of the business, and we have sufficient revenue, only then will we begin hiring.
We will need a team of account directors to manage the enterprise client relationships, product management, finance, etc. We will also need marketing geniuses (if the co-founder doesn't have that capability) and eventually inside sales and people to manage those people. And ultimately I want the tech team inside, but continue to look at how we can blend that with outsourcing relationships, but that will be the tech co-founder's decision. So a traditional office will ultimately be the answer for this team of 10-15. In the interim, I have office space at an executive suites that will handle the core co-founder team and then allow us to add people as needed (even virtually) without having to commit to leased space.
Personally I am a big deal person - I've spent 30+ years in joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions and as key negotiator on the enterprise deals, but I'm not the day to day biz dev person. I need a detailed sales/biz dev leader who can build out that team and can build out an affiliate/franchise sales team for each of the sectors that we are after for each of our brands.
I am the inventor of the product, but am not up on the technical architecture and tools, so you are right, a CIO/CTO with equity may be the right first move. The technical co-founder title is a bit of a buzz word and more important to investors than to the business itself, but it is the role, responsibilities, engagement and commitment that is important to me, whatever you call it.
What is really key to me is that the person has a vested interest in the success beyond whatever the ultimate compensation package would look like (I'm a fan of revenue sharing for a co-founder). I want that person to take ownership of the product roadmap. I will always have input into the product, but I don't want to dictate functionality. I want to collaborate with brilliant, iconoclastic minds that see beyond my own vision.
The co-founders and I will take salaries when it makes sense to do so based on revenues/profits and what other skills we need to augment our talents. That is the way to run a business.
As to what I'm looking to do? I am building a billion dollar business. We are at the very beginning of that journey, but I intend to get there and to lead it for at least a decade. I have started slowly because I wanted to build a solid foundation and truly because I can do so many of the things that should be done. But I know it is time to move to the next level.
This is not a short term gig. If we do this right (and we will), we will get exit offers in the 3-5 year timeframe. By that time we will have taken in outside equity investment. If the offers are right at the time, we will consider it. I am carefully building a board that will guide us in all those decisions.
If public markets are healthy, we will look at IPO at that point. Within 3 years we should be at $100m in gross sales based on other similar ventures that I've run. $250m would be our stretch goal for that timeframe. It is definitely doable. But I need the right team who believe along side me that it not only can be done, but it should be done, because the tools in my industry are very broken. The consumer does all the work before they even go online and they don't even realize it.
My industry is full of multi-billion dollar players that are not directly targeting over 67% of the market. They get them by default but not on purpose. Our product solves that and broadens the reach. Plus we get to the consumer earlier than the current players do.
It is time. I really appreciate how each of you are making me look at this from different perspectives. I believe at this juncture that getting a core team together is the right thing to do. This summer I may have enough revenue to do it the old fashioned way, just recruiting and hiring the right talent, but I still prefer to find entrepreneurial spirits that see my brightly decorated bus with the destination in lights on the front and flag me down to get on! We'll see what happens. It is a part of this amazing journey.