In our latest Giants Weekly session, we heard from Adam Schwab, founder, investor and contrarian. Adam shared how to build a superstar team, based on insights he gained after founding Luxury Escapes, one of the fastest growing travel websites in the world and an Australian e-commerce success story.
Watch Adam’s presentation in full below, or read on for the key team lessons this veteran founder has learnt on his start-up journey.
Building your team
When assembling your team, it’s important to realise that it also includes founders and investors, Adam says.
According to Adam, two co-founders are the sweet spot, especially when there is a pre-existing relationship. It preserves equity while fixing a key skill deficit you might have.
“Being a founder is just about overcoming challenges.”
Problems are inevitable for a founder and Adam believes your co-founder should have a complementary skill set so they can solve the problems that you can’t. Most people assume that the founders must have a 50/50 split of work and equity, but in Adam’s experience this isn’t always true. Instead, he suggests splitting the work/equity based on your relative strengths, which might not always be an even split. And while the most important part of the co-founder relationship is compromise, Adam stressed that sometimes you have to stick to your views.
“Choosing the right investor can be more important than finding the right co-founder.” It can often be overlooked that an investor becomes a part of your team, which is why it’s so important to be selective.
Investors seeking to maximise profits without investing time into the business are to be avoided. These types of investors ultimately drain time out of the business based on Adam’s experience.
Bootstrapping is always a better alternative to taking on the wrong investor. However, Adam acknowledges that only some businesses can do this - it’s incredibly hard to start a SaaS or marketplace business without outside investment.
Building culture is critical. The great companies such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple have been able to pivot because of their employee culture, says Adam. Netflix went from DVD delivery to streaming and Amazon went from book seller to marketplace.
A culture where employees can speak openly and test new ideas allows a business to adapt to changes in the market. Adam credits building this culture for why Luxury Escapes was able to pivot from a restaurant marketplace to a luxury travel website.
Another key part of building this culture is hiring. In true contrarian spirit, Adam believes the best hires often come from those others overlook.
Keen to learn more about building a superstar team and selling product? Register to our upcoming Giants Weekly: Growth Marketing 101 with Nicole Liu.