Business Development · Business Strategy

If you were to pick 3 most important roles for a startup what would it be?

Olumidé Gbenro

September 18th, 2015

We are close to the completion of our MVP for my rideshare app. The US based team is very small right now. Myself (CEO) MPH and a college buddy, Systems Analyst, that's it. I have 100% equity.  I outsourced the app development so once it is complete I it will have all the code but no team here in the US.

My question is which of the following do I need to have on the team the most: Is it a development team (let me answer this, yes), someone specifically designated to business development, a marketing expert?  The thing is, despite not being a business major (my Masters is in Public Health) I am pretty confident in the way I run things and I have some savviness with social media, SEO though reading, online research.

Here's the real question:
What do I need on my team right now! and what can be added later.


Long winded question I know. I just wanted to be complete with my thoughts.
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Paul Scott Principal, Paul Scott & Associates; Field Vice President with FFSI Insurance Services, Inc.

September 18th, 2015

Hello Olumide, As technology is moving so fast these days, I would think you need to have someone who is not as emotionally connected to your product as you are. This could be a research and development person who is connected to market trends and to what people really want and need. Is your idea unique? Is your idea revolutionary? Is your idea something that people need and will pay for. Will your idea improve the life of enough people to make it profitable for you and your stakeholders? All the questions you as the developer may not be aware of or even want to hear as the truth may be perceived as negative and counter to your mission. Secondly I think marketing is paramount. It's less important what you do than how you communicate it to the marketplace. People need to be led to a decision, even if that decision will solve a major problem for them most people cannot make the decision to part with their money on their own. They have to be led and carefully guided to that decision. especially when you consider that you are competing for their dollars with many vendors who have spent millions to get top of mind and to beat you to the marketplace. Marketing is the art of packaging yourself in such a way that you are appealing and important to people. Marketing makes the sales team's job so much easier. I hope this helps. Much success to you and your current team. Paul Scott

Rob G

September 21st, 2015

olumide, your team will change over time as needs change.  You question is "what do i need right now"?  Don't bite off more than you can chew.   A minimum vial company (there is a discussion thread on this here on FD) is: product and sales. You need to have a product (actually you don't need to have a working product or MVP, but since you have already taken this step this is helpful) and you must be able to sell it - at this stage nothing else matters more.  It's not that nothing else matters ever, it's that right now nothing is MORE important.  It sounds like you will soon have a MV product so for now you can get by with your outsourced dev team - not ideal, but were not talking ideal, we're talking minimum viable. Now you need to sell.  How you sell at this stage is different than how you will sell later (once you've proven product/ market fit).  Your selling model will also be different depending on your target customer.  sounds like you are selling to consumers (correct me if i'm wrong) so once you have proven product-market fit then (you should have done this prior to building your MVP, but that's another discussion) your sales efforts should morph into more of a marketing effort since you can't afford to "sell" to individual consumers.  Business development may or may not be a necessary skill set, but that should come later.  For now focus on selling your vision and iterating product features until you know you have something that people need and can generate revenue. 

Bob Smith Consulting to Boards, CEO's and Key Management Teams, Strategic Investor and Fast Growth Companies

September 18th, 2015

I like what Gregory Pierce and the others have had to say.


To me, you want to pick your top 5 accomplishments needed to turn your start-up into a stable and growing business.  prioritize them and that should tell you who you need.  There is a great book that I like called the Founders Dilemma.


It has a great deal of useful tidbits.  Play with those suggestions. 

If you are going to be CEO and Chief Product Manager, then get good Finance platforms in place and Revenue.   Everything is strategic AND tactical for a while.  You can drive yourself nuts trying to be everything.

Adam Epstein Enterprise Business Development Representative at Procore Technologies

September 20th, 2015

great points, appreciate the response. 

Gregory Pierce Vice President, Technology at GreenSky Credit

September 18th, 2015

- You need someone that can raise money and manage investors
- You need someone that can get and retain customers
- You need someone that can put together a minimum product (people so often miss that MINIMUM part) that can service the needs of the other two people.

If you don't have at least those 3, you're dead in the water.

Adam Epstein Enterprise Business Development Representative at Procore Technologies

September 20th, 2015

How do I ask/ find a co Founder on this website? I have contacted several individuals but do not know how to transition the conversation from a quick cup of coffee to being a co founder- if that makes sense.

James D.

September 20th, 2015

Just be you.  Time is valuable.  So tell them up front what you would like to talk about, without proposing anything.  

They will check your info, and respond if Interested.

Approach humbly, but from a positron of strength and always leave a view where they see how helping you can be beneficial to them. 

Last but not least,  always be real. 

Yevgeny Ioffe Experienced Analyst, Director, MS, MBA

September 18th, 2015

Olumide, That's a very good question, and one of the most important questions any startup founder should be asking and trying to resolve. Based on my experience from both working at startups and having co-founded

David Keene Founder/CTO at EveryStory • Capture Stories Easily, Share them Privately, Save them Permanently

September 18th, 2015

-I think every technology based startup needs someone in leadership who understands the technology. 
-If you are going to raise money, I would suggest someone who *has raised money before*, who at least understands the complexities of different deal structures.
-If you are B2C, you will need someone who understands consumer growth and *has gown a product base before*. If you are B2B, you need someone who can sell.

Barbara Jones Founder/CEO at Lilllii RNB Inc

September 18th, 2015

I have a startup, tech startup and I started with myself(CEO), President and 2 advisors with Industry experience. That's was a year ago, now I see that I need someone to sell my company and someone in charge of building our Products. Other roles such as Legal, Accounting, Social Media can be outsourced. Sent from my iPhone