By Rudi Bublitz
As co-founder of a UK based SAP consulting practice we built from 2 to 400 plus staff within 9 years, I learned all about TEAM WORK.
The rapid growth could only be managed by a strong lead team that brought a complementary mix of skills and dynamic vision to build a flexible yet robust business. Within the first six months we added a counter balance to us two gung-ho co-founders, single and happy to take risk and to take on the world, with a safe pair of hands.
During that time I have come across many very experienced consultants who behaved like prima donnas in that they knew so much that had to know everything better and would never fit into the large teams we had to assemble to implement integrated business systems during the 90ies.
It turned out that our strategy to train talented graduates produced far better team players which ultimately made for smoother and more successful implementations. Many of our competitors preferred to hire prima donnas whom they could deploy immediately. It helped them in the short term to win projects but in the end a bunch of individuals no matter how well qualified cannot deliver what requires 20 or so to work together as a team. Those competitors dropped out one by one and only the firms that could assemble good teams did survive.
Flick forward some 15 years and I see a perfect repetition as a co-founder of a new angel group, the Flying Kiwis.
We are building a TEAM.
We started off as a handful of practicing angel investors who wanted to make a difference and get angels to work together more closely and engage with startup entrepreneurs more constructively. By now there are 15 kiwis with wings and we really value the diversity in experience and opinion. Sharing the workload is a key principle in our group and is helping us move forward without hiring dedicated staff.
Without staff, it means that each of us Flying Kiwis Angels is hands-on involved and actively participating in the business of angel investing such as Startup Weekend; three of us are helping with AKLSW, David Russell and Heath Milligan for months already on the organising team and myself for 52 hours as mentor.
We have broken down the stages in the angel investment process into areas of responsibility. For each area we have a manager who is passionate about that aspect and will guide others to make sure we all act with the appropriate measure of consistency and professionalism. Flying Kiwis is all about strong individuals working together to achieve much more than they could on their own or just loosely co-operation.
In my investments I am looking for TEAMS to invest in.
Single investors no matter how passionate are rarely compelling because in the long run they cannot be flexible enough to steer the business through times of uncertainty and adversary. Entrepreneurs need a peer group around them to challenge their thinking but also to give each other support which helps with decision making. Almost every time I meet a lone founder their business idea lacks validation that would so easily be achieved within a team.
There are the odd exceptions but usually those entrepreneurs still work with a range of mentors and advisors who provide the pluralistic input. I have invested in once such entrepreneur but only after working with him for 12 months and knowing that he is coachable.
All my other investments have been in strong teams.
What I love about Startup Weekend is that it drives home the message about TEAM stronger and louder than any other business completion or mentoring program I know of.
It is great fun to see groups forming and getting productive during SW. Good teams will automatically produce pivots rather than sticking with the direction that the original idea dictates.
For me SW is all about startup entrepreneurs learning the significance of teams.
That in turn makes SW veterans much more attractive to investors down the track. It seems to me that most of the noticeable entrepreneurs in the NZ startup eco system have been through one or two Startup Weekends.
Don’t expect this AKLSW to be the launching pad for immensely powerful businesses but rather the catalyst for teams that will go on to build compelling businesses.tive to investors down the track. It seems to me that most of the noticeable entrepreneurs in the NZ startup eco system have been through one or two Startup Weekends.
Also, AKLSW is about learning skills that you don’t pick up from a text book or lecture at business school. So let’s catch up in late November at AKLSW.
Oh, one last thing! November is Global Startup Battle which adds an extra twist. Lots of prizes and additional glory for any NZ team winning in this global competition. Trust that we Flying Kiwis are coming fully armed
About the author:
Rudi Bublitz is an angel investor and business mentor. Awarded the 2011 William H. Payne Active Angel Award by Ice Angels and co-founder of the new Flying Kiwis angel group. Mentor to the 2013 Spark $100k Challenge winning team IMeasureU and Wellington’s Lightning LAB. Co-founder of a UK based SAP consulting business that grew from 2 to 400+ staff in less than 10 years when it was sold in 1999. Loves testing business model propositions and evolving them with enthusiastic entrepreneurs.