Are you really a Startup Founder?
Or are you just a Manager
Founders are the initial developers of a product and the people with vision. Founder is the one who takes all the decisions on an individual basis and keeps the product going in direction it needs to go. He or she is the one that takes all the risks and works tirelessly towards achieving goals and providing a solution to users. Founders forge the vision, set the direction, and make all the key decisions.
What do you need to be a Founder?
As a Founder, you need to have a strong vision and be able to turn that into a compelling value proposition. Founders are passionate about building something great and they won’t give up on it once they start. They need to be problem solvers and not just solution providers.
Founders are the ones that lead the team and provide motivation for others to work towards achieving goals. They should have high EQ as well so that they can work with people from different backgrounds and help them work better towards achieving mutual goals.
Founders should have a very good sense of what is cutting edge technology in their field of work. They must be able to take calculated risks so that they are not afraid of facing failure. They should have all these skills so that they can build something great overnight or within 6 months at least but sometimes even if you fail in building something great in 6 months, it doesn’t mean that your idea is not good enough.
You just might not have worked hard enough or taken enough risks with your product yet then it will take time for your product to become successful but if you do get there, it will definitely be worth waiting for.
What is the difference between a startup founder and a manager?
A manager sits in an office and plans for the future. A Founder works on the ground and plans for the future.
A manager makes sure there are no cracks in systems and processes. A Founder creates new systems and processes.
A manager has an incremental improvement mindset. A Founder has a disruptive improvement mindset.
A Manager wants to grow his or her career gradually. A Founder wants to grow his or her company gradually into a multi-billion dollar monolith.
What are the qualities of a good founder?
I think that a good founder should be able to communicate effectively with his team, should be able to handle criticism, should have good decision making skills, must have strong belief that he can work on solving a problem that people face every day, must have ability to quickly make decisions, must have ability to take calculated risks, must know how to compromise when needed etc.
What are the questions you need to be familiar with as a founder
How many people do you require in your team?
And what is your role as CEO? What is your role as COO/CFO/CTO etc.?
How do you split responsibilities between them?
Who makes final decisions?
What do you think about hiring freelancers vs full time employees (in terms of hiring process)?
How much equity do you give in early stage startups?
Have you ever given up equity for someone who made huge contributions but did not stay long term at company?
Can any non tech person become CEO of tech startup? Can any non sales person lead sales team?
What areas do you think are important for non technical founders especially when they start their first startups related to technology space like me (I am working on Education Technology)?
Do you think it is possible for someone without technical background to build something successful over time by trusting experts and learning from them instead of trying everything by him or herself?
How much time does it take from inception till first customer / revenue generation / product launch while keeping bootstrapped resources at minimal levels?
What kind of questions did investors ask at each round during fundraising process?
Having Persistence as a Founder is the most important quality. It is important to have a vision about what you want to do and how you are going to accomplish it.
You need to be able to communicate this vision effectively to others so that they can also be a part of your journey. You must have the ability to build a team around you and motivate them all in the same direction.
You must have strong decision making skills because you will be making decisions for the company every day and lot of these decisions will have an impact on your team as well as on the company’s performance.
You must know how to take calculated risks so that you can avoid situations where in failure means losing everything and if you are not afraid of failure, then there is no way that your product would not be successful!
At Cudy Technologies, we don’t have any roles allocated for us but since we started our company, I am doing more or less everything including developing the product myself at times when things get really busy and there is no one else available who could help me out with it (I am not very good at programming though) and other times when we don’t have enough developers to do what we need to do.
We have freelancers working with us who are very good at what they do and they are the ones helping me out when I am not able to do something and vice versa.
The roles of a Startup Founder are so many that it is not possible for one person to do all of them but as a Founder, you need to have the ability to do all of them when needed and you need to have the ability to handle all of these roles on your own when you start your company in early stages.
When we started our company, the first thing I did was start looking for a co-founder who could do the job as an engineer and that is how my co-founder joined me! He was working at his job as an engineer and he used to work on nights and weekends with me on our product so that we could get something out soon.
We worked like this for almost 6 months or so until we launched our beta version of the product. Unfortunately, he had to leave the company for personal reasons and I was left all alone to do everything. Now, we have a team of developers and designers working with us so that they can help us to get things done faster but I am still doing a lot of work on my own and I am also managing their work by setting deadlines for them and chasing them up when they are not able to meet deadlines.
So yes, you don’t necessarily have to be technical while you are a Founder but it is very important that you at least have a good sense of what is needed from your team so that you can assign tasks to your team effectively and motivate them towards achieving goals.
We have different roles in our company because we are a small team consisting of only 9 people right now!
The most important roles in our company are the ones of the founder who leads everything else and makes all the decisions including decision about hiring new people and deciding on the product.
About the Author
I am the Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and angel investor in other Startups of my other interests (Proptech, Fintech, HRtech, Ride-hailing, C2C marketplaces and SaaS). You can also find me on Cudy for early-stage Startup Founder mentorship and advice.
You can connect with me on Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexanderlhk) and let me know that you are a reader of my Medium posts in your invitation message.