Entrepreneurship · Building a team

What should you do when you have a good business idea but no team to make it happen?

Miguel Ângelo

September 9th, 2015

I have been trying to develop a startup for over a year and during this period of time, me and my girlfriend have participated in several contests, such as the Startup Weekend and 3 Day Startup, among others. Even though we never won any of these contests, we have been receiving a very positive feedback for the idea itself from members of Venture Capital, professionals of the area (architects, engineers, etc) and other entrepreneurs.

Although it might involve lots of profit and it is a very scalable business, it will take a lot of bureaucratic and work "on the field". The thing is, I have been trying to push this idea to the next level for the past year and there were some people willing to join the team but, facing the amount of work ahead and not being a very technological startup (we will essentially work in the architecture area), they give up on the idea.

How do I manage to call people in to work with me on this business idea? I would appreciate some advices and your personal experiences.

Benjamin Olding Co-founder, Board Member at Jana

September 9th, 2015

It sounds like you are entering a field where you do not have a lot of experience, so perhaps people are nervous you could be mistaken about the business opportunity.

I had a friend who wanted to start a business in a field he had no experience with.  I thought he did something very clever: he found an executive leader in the field who could have started a new company in the field easily.  Everyone knew him as a real authority, and if he said it would work, everyone believed him.

My friend made him a "non-executive co-founder." This meant he was a cofounder, but did not have to work at the business day-to-day (he already had a full-time job).  Together, they went out and raised a significant amount of capital.  My friend ran the business, and his cofounder provided strategic input and - most importantly - legitimacy with customers and partners.

My friend got a great deal - it was going to be near impossible to raise money on his own or establish himself as an authority in the field, even though it really was a good business idea.  His cofounder got a great deal too: even though he was capable of starting the business without my friend, he was not that entrepreneurial and likely never would have on his own.  The business was a substantial success.

If this idea appeals to you, start making a list of people in the field you are entering you believe VCsand customers *already* know about.  You may not be able to get any of them, but you need to be thinking about the most influential people to make an offer of "non-executive cofounder" too.  This is only a good idea of they can make raising money and signing customers much easier for you.

William Sarine VP, Business Development

September 11th, 2015

The first thing an entrepreneur should do is identify the skills and talent needed then build a team. Without this step you will never get to first base. Great business ideas are aplenty but without a solid functional plan and team, you are sunk before you leave the dock.

Jordan Plosky Co-Founder and CEO at ComicBlitz LLC

September 9th, 2015

Well, first off, I am not an expert, but can share my experience.  If you have an idea that is so clearly a winner, people who are passionate about the same thing as you will join your team because they truly see a real possibility of success.  They have to believe in the product, AND you as a leader.  
You also have to compensate them fairly, and value what they bring to the table.  If you cannot afford to pay, since you are pre-revenue, you must be willing to part with equity as compensation.  And of course, protect yourself by vesting the equity.  
But, figure out what tasks you will be doing, and what you need other team members to handle.  They should receive a title, and equity compensation, so they feel like they have part ownership of the company, which will make them work harder for it to succeed.  
Again, I'm no expert, just drawing from my experience.


September 10th, 2015

I found a new startup based in Santa Barbara, CA called Equity Directory.  It's an incredible resource for those like myself who are seeking equity in exchange for expertise in needed areas.  For myself, it's Biz Dev & Sales, mostly.  

For startups needing cofounders or experts, it's a great resource to put your idea out there and "hire" into the areas in which you have need via your company's equity.  

In 2 weeks, I've had 12 leads come my way, which means it's very promising for startups looking to fill voids.  Good luck!

Daniel Truran director general COO at ebbf, B Corp ambassador, professor at business schools, co-founder Impact Hub Madrid - @dtruran

September 10th, 2015

You may also wish to look for new fresh networks of people, allowing you to perhaps connect with that special group of individuals that you can work with to make your idea fly. 
The usual is "we met in college and decided to start a ..." but if you don't have that kind of group from your past years 
 then you can go and visit co-working spaces where you can find many like minded people. I am involved in the global Impact Hub network of co-working spaces and many ideas become start-ups and then develop into companies by people "bumping" into like minded future business partners there. 
Another option is to join one of those online MOOC's dedicated to start ups, perhaps Udacity, Coursera etc and there you are also likely to meet other people who might form your team. 

Douglas Kuhn CTO, Strategic Development Engineer at Greenwitch Productions LLC

September 9th, 2015

An idea is worthless without a plan for its implementation.  In many cases you have to take the reins and do most of the initial foot work, to build a prototype to demonstrate the idea *before* you will receive serious in-query or proposition to be apart of it.   From then on it is a matter of fine tuning who you let in and who just wants to say "me too" after the goods have grown and the idea gets to fruition levels where *everybody* wants to be apart of the party.

Initial stages are the slowest because, like the little red hen, nobody wants to help and often times you the originator are forced to resolve the technical issues you are not well versed in.   This is not necessarily a bad thing.  It will allow you to vet out the con-men that want to weasel their way into your idea and prototype...As your implementation gets more and more momentum more and more people will be from the "me too" crowd and less from the "me do" crowd.   

David Wegman

September 11th, 2015

If you're completely committed to it and working on it full-time, congratulations on taking the leap. If not, and you're working on your new venture on the side while keeping your day job, it may be difficult to convince others to pour that much hard work into it. Your work ethic, drive, and commitment to success will set the tone.

Startup founders have to be pretty stubborn and relentless in order to succeed -- a half-hearted effort won't get the job done.

Brandon Lewin Helping Purposeful Businesses Make a Difference | Strategic Marketing Consultant | Marketing Training | Entrepreneur

September 15th, 2015

I actually have to agree with Rocky. I found Equity Directory before I saw this discussion. Based on what you are looking for, ED would be a great resource. You need to find specialists and experts who are willing to take on part of the company to reap the rewards later on. 

You can sign up and request certain skill sets. I, personally, have found a number of startups to work with. I've been introduced to about 10-12 since joining a little over a month ago. 

The great thing is you don't have to be a tech startup. It works for any type of startup as long as it is scalable and you need the skills that the other users provide. Give it a shot. 

You are in a tough situation, but you will find a way to get the company off the ground. Just keep working hard and don't give up. 

David Sr Cloud-First AI Deep Learning Video Security Executive

September 15th, 2015

Hi Miguel,

You're doing something similar to another person here in USA is doing.  I will need to dig in my memory to remember how to contact him... but he travels all over USA doing something similar.

Please find me on linked and send a request to connect as a friend.

I'll help you with some direction, and get you started.  I'll give you some ideas to monetize also - so you can have a little walking money.

Honestly you have a nice nitch market and service others need you don't need an investment - you need connections which will generate some sales, then you'll be flush with cash to reinvest and grow.

You need your mustard seed, that's all you need my friend.  Don't associate your success with an outside investment in your mind.  Think of sales and how to generate those very first few bucks.  :)

Alfredo Rodríguez

September 14th, 2015

Hey, Miguel. Among all the very valuable comments posted above I found the suggestion by Benjamin Olding gold's worth. I intend to put in practice right away!