The First 10 People

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The first 10 people of a new company can be responsible for making or breaking an organization.  Put another way, its all about the team.

People can matter more than things like the funding you have, traction and usage, product market fit, and many other things that seem to be at the top of everyones list of what makes a great startup. The first 10 can mean the difference between success and failure at a startup.  Its true that others added along the way such as key hires, superstars, and other outliers can and do make a meaningful impact, but the first 10 make all the difference.

The first few set the pace, the culture, the hiring practices, and overall speed an inertia of the company. They become the talent magnets that people want to work with, the leadership team that typically takes on bigger roles over time, and soul of the company. Sure many may transition out (and sometimes back) but I believe this core group makes all the difference. Digging in with an early stage company to hear about the early team, where they are now, and how much churn has happened is a great data point.

The same is true for a new intra-organization at a company. When a new product or division is formed, the same first 10 people can make or break that new initiative. Having built out the sales org from scratch, I can share firsthand that the tempo and team dynamics are formed in those early days.

As founders I know consider their first hires, leaders of new initiatives, and the initial group – I stress that the first 10 people can make (or break) and organization.

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