• Klil Nevo

The 6 Essential Startup Roles That Every Team Should Hire

Let’s face it – startups rarely succeed because of their ideas.

You have a great business idea, financial backing, and plenty of market research to prove your startup's worth — now what?

The most successful tech startup is only as strong as its team. These team members — product developers, customer service representatives, account executives, salespeople, and more — should be working towards one common goal: developing, implementing, and managing a next-generation product or service designed to meet or exceed customers' expectations.

"Having the right team determines the path and outcome of a new venture more than any decision in the lifecycle of a company," warns Bernd Schoner, author of The Tech Entrepreneur's Survival Guide.

To maximize your chances of success, prioritize the following startup roles as you begin your hiring process.

The CEO, labeled as ‘The Dreamer’

‘The Dreamer’ is the person who sets the vision for the company. This person is the one who envisions what the world would be like with her or his product. The Visionary always shoots for the "pie in the sky" and has an inherent knack for helping her or his team members realize the full value of the product or service. Most importantly, this person serves as the company's guiding force. The startup's vision — building a next-generation product or service, solving an industry's biggest challenges, helping consumers — should motivate team members to do their best work. Moreover, The Visionary takes the time to invest in the team. He or she should build an environment where employees can thrive.

"Visionary leadership is not an uncommon concept, but our energies are most often spent on our product, program, or service," says Tori Utley, contributor at Forbes. "And while these elements represent what is most central to our business strategies, true vision extends beyond business and into the lives of the people who work for our companies. True innovators have vision for their business and their people."

The Visionary should possess the following qualities:

  • Great Communicator: Able to translate complex thoughts into bite-sized information.

  • Charismatic Leader: Motivates and empowers employees.

  • Imaginative: Always thinking about new projects or undertakings.

  • Risk-taker: Not afraid to try new things.

The Operational Leader

The Operational Leader is responsible for running the business like a business. This person translates the vision and makes it a reality. The Operational Leader is responsible for establishing targets, developing a business strategy, outlining roles and responsibilities, managing finances and forecasts, creating internal processes, monitoring timelines, and more. She or he and The Visionary work together to lead the company with their complementary strengths and skillsets.

This team member should have an inherent knack for identifying, diagnosing, and responding to customers' pain points, providing a directional roadmap for innovations or discoveries, and proactively addressing an issue or problem before it occurs. For example, this person might come up with a new manufacturing or distribution method to save the tech startup valuable time, energy, and capital. In this instance, this person will outline project objectives and rely on other members of the team to see the project through to completion.

The Operational Leader should possess the following qualities:

  • Organized: Able to juggle multiple projects, manage deadlines, etc.

  • Process-driven: Has a well-documented execution process.

  • Focused on Efficiency: Has a "get things done" attitude.

  • Quality-driven: Committed to delivering the best product or service

The CPO, The Product Wizard

The Product Wizard is responsible for constructing and managing the startup's product or service. This person is technically-focused and understands the inner workings and unique nuances of product development and enhancement. She or he is the one who leads brainstorming around product or service functionality and features. Additionally, this person has a keen understanding of customers' unique pain points and commits to gathering routine feedback. If the product or service is lacking in a specific area or underserving customers, she or he is well-equipped to put the best solution forward.

The Product Wizard should possess the following qualities:

  • Impressive Technical Skills: Works in multiple languages including C++, Java, and more.

  • Willingness to Learn: Showcases an interest in continuing educational opportunities.

  • Problem Solver: Finds solutions to unexpected issues or bugs.

  • Passionate: Finds enjoyment in work.

The Growth Hacker

The Growth Hacker is responsible for promoting the startup's product or service. This person understands marketing best practices. The Growth Hacker should be data-driven and analytically-focused. This person aspires to know exactly how customers think, what they want, and how the startup should speak to them. Unfortunately, this position is frequently cast aside, especially during early-stage development.

"Startups tend to put all their time, effort, and energy into creating the product or service that they're selling and then try and do the 'marketing' themselves," says Ania Markowska, contributor at TechSpark. "But the problem with that is they don't really know what's involved with marketing."

The Growth Hacker should possess the following qualities:

  • Strategic Thinker: Focused on the bigger picture.

  • Creative: Thinks differently about the product or service and iterates constantly.

  • Analytical: Focused on facts and figures.

  • Curious: Open-minded, wants to understand the competitive landscape and consumer insights.

The Sales Master

The Sales Master is responsible for managing leads and creating conversions. This is one of the most important roles on the startup roster. However, before meeting with a sales candidate, it's important to exercise some inward reflection:

  • What is the current sales growth trajectory?

  • What is the ideal customer profile?

  • What are the personal strengths and weaknesses as an operator?

"Answering these questions will help define the type of salesperson your company needs," says Craig Burel, partner at Reciprocal Ventures. "Your sales traction, revenue growth, and ideal customer profile will dictate the types of salespeople best suited for the role."

The salesperson should have a masterful command of the sales process and an expert understanding of the latest conversion tactics. Should the situation arise, this person is comfortable initiating cold calls and emails. When speaking with leads, the salesperson knows all about the startup's product or service and can deliver the startup's unique value proposition to customers in a compelling way.

The Sales Master should possess the following qualities:

  • Competitive: Strives for greatness.

  • Resilient: Not afraid to fail.

  • Good Communicator: Able to speak clearly and showcases the full value of the product or service.

  • Charming: Creates good first impressions and helps customers feel valued.

The Happiness Hero

The Happiness Hero is responsible for addressing customers' questions and concerns. When the product or service isn't functioning properly, this person should be able to sympathize with customers and work to ease their frustrations. She or he should possess the following qualities:

  • Patience: Customers tend to contact Happiness Heroes when they're angry. This person should be able to "hear" customers' frustrations and reply calmly and thoughtfully.

  • Clear Communication Skills: This person gets to the problem at hand quickly and efficiently.

  • Understanding of the Product/Service: This person knows about the product inside and out.

  • Calming Presence: This person uses positive language and exercises a bit of compassion when speaking with customers.

Final word

We can all agree that besides the revolutionary and breakthrough idea, every startup must have a motivated development team that will make it real. Aside from these crucial roles, there are more people in the story of a successful tech startup – especially the ones with more developer knowledge and the ones in charge of the technicalities.

Knowing that every startup is different and has its own unique challenges, the general roles and responsibilities in all tech startups are basically the same. In the end, it all boils down to having a vision and establishing a culture that is going to adapt to it, dedicate to it and be willing to jump into these roles in the blink of an eye.

Does your startup have the above-mentioned roles – or it may include a different set of ‘thinkers’ and ‘doers’?

Either way there's one thing for sure - you have to keep your team trained and motivated -and this is what we at Juno Journey do the best!