INSTANT MBA: The First 10 People To Join Your Startup Can Make Or Break Your Company

Andreas Bernstrom

Andreas Bernstrom

Today’s advice comes from Rebtel CEO and BI contributor Andreas Bernstrom interview with Business Insider:“The difference between success and failure in the start-up world is very closely aligned to the founding team, or the first 10 to join. A great team can make a bad idea fly, while a bad team will definitely make a great idea sink.”

Previously at Goldman Sachs, Bernstrom is now the CEO at Rebtel, the world’s largest independent mobile VoIP company based on revenue. 

He says that “one bad apple can spoil a great team” and believes that the first 10 employees set the tone and the level of excellence and ambition so they need to be right for the company.

Here are five quick tips he offered to getting it right:

1. Drive and enthusiasm can not be underestimated. Someone who is “hungry” will always prevail over someone who is merely smart. 

2. Test your employees. Check their code, ask to see their work, set them a case study, and review their finished products.

3. Check references. The start-up world is relatively small, and we all know someone who knows someone. Bernstrom suggests getting a minimum of at least 3 qualified references for keyt hires.

4. Make sure the potential talent meets the other team members. It’s important to understand if your employees will gel socially. With as much time as they will spend together, they should enjoy working with one another.

5. Ensure that employees are properly incentivized. Give them a carrot, some skin in the game, and make sure that they are motivated by it. 

“As a founder of a company, you believe in an idea, and you see how your idea can change the world and what it will take to succeed. You know what you want to achieve, so you need to build a proper foundation, starting with talent and skill sets that are the right fit for your company.”

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