The 10 Types Of People You'll Find At A Startup
Startups are meant to be pretty diverse places to work. Although we don’t entirely agree with that, you will definitely find a mixed bunch of personalities, some of whom will have a positive impact on you and the business, but sadly all too many who won’t.
It helps to understand a bit about these different types of people so you can learn which ones to buddy up with and which ones to steer well clear of.
Here are 10 personas you’re guaranteed to find at a startup.
This is a person of privilege. Dad is a seed or venture capital investor in the business who wanted his tear-away son or daughter to get a job. Despite the half a million quid put down on private school fees and £1m for the Greenwich penthouse, daddy is now willing to burn another £2m on a startup investment so his precious one can work for a few summers. This person will never leave and won’t budge for even the simplest task.
C++ = #error
Outsourcing to cheaper countries with great coders is an option for many tech companies. However, picking the right tech provider can be just as hard as picking the right CTO. And many CTOs at startups can’t even code and rely on blagging their way through tech meetings. They will spend more time at conferences or round tables than actually in the office. Unfortunately, these people will often be the downfall of startups because they are incapable of building a good tech team to deliver what is needed and at pace.
The ex-banker, used to a very high salary, Savile Row suits and long hours. He’s seen some colleagues from back in the day build a successful FinTech. Perhaps he worked on the IPO while at Goldman. He, and in this case, it will be a he, is now working at startups because he thought it would be cool and he got bored with his early retirement, but has no idea why customers or products are important. Top tip – if you’re thinking of founding your own startup he may be someone good to partner with as his LinkedIn connections will be a brilliant source of potential investors.
The no-bullshit person. Usually, a back-end developer, this person just wants to write great code. They probably struggled at a large corporate being neglected for promotions as they just got on with the work instead of brown-nosing the boss. If you work with a Machine, treat them kindly, and listen and learn to see what motivates them. Machines will build unicorns and they deserve to. Never make a Machine work for a “C++ = #Error” CTO. The Machine will leave or become a Sloth. And build amazing apps in their spare time which may become a unicorn.
They’ve been attempting to launch their startup for 5 years. They have no investment, no MVP, and are still pre-revenue. Despite this they appear permanently optimistic about changing the world through Blockchain/FinTech/AI. We need to support these people as they may have a level of depression and might be looking for a way out. It is likely they have some level of experience but may just have not got that lucky break.
Of course you will meet a networker. They know everyone and will definitely make the effort to meet newcomers to a business. They make great co-working space managers but are also useful in startups talking to and finding investors through corporate contacts. They can be good people to know but just be careful not to get stuck in a 50-minute chat about the benefits of distributed ledgers.
This person seems to spend all their time researching the competition, reading TechCrunch, PitchBook, TrendHunter or Marketing Week, and writing lengthy PowerPoint decks that go nowhere. They get super-excited about everything from Credit Card Builder (it pays your credit card bill automatically but is different from a direct debit) to Peck (a marketplace for bird feeders). They would be a brilliant product manager if they could focus on a single problem and actually apply some of the vast knowledge they have accumulated.
Probably working on the creative side of the business, they have little understanding of the harsh economics of startups. They spend their time re-branding the website, or designing motivational posters for the break-out areas, and they’ll always volunteer to make a birthday or leaving card spending much more on special paper, glitter, and glue than something from Clintons. They also can’t get their heads round why you have to pay for technology once it’s been built. Never take this person to an investor presentation.
Straight out of university into a startup, this person hasn’t had the grounding in KPMG or Unilever, or even Sainsbury’s. They will want to work from home either side of booked holiday so they can pack and get over jet lag, and a 9am doctor’s appointment means taking the entire day off. The output from this person will be low. Identify and remove them as soon as possible unless you can turn them into a Machine by putting them under a good manager.
If you’ve watched Silicon Valley you’ll know what we mean. They are like the banking world’s Big Swinging Dicks of the mid-2000s. Probably, a mix of Budgie, Peacock, Caterpillar, and Networker, they will be all mouth and no trousers which is somewhat ironic. Because a Brogrammer will be a man. And there is a high chance of sexual harassment with these guys around. If he asks you out on a date, make sure you take your Sabre spray with you.