Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

What’s in it for me:

  • Why is culture so important for startups?
  • What is a Culture of Growth?
  • What are the traits of a Culture of Growth?

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, I heard this phrase some days ago and since then it stuck in my head. This quote is attributed to the management guru Peter Drunk. I really appreciated because its highlight the importance of the culture in the success of a company.

I’ve been studying about the topic, especially focused on startups.

First of all, let’s understand better what is a startup. There are a couple of different definitions, here follow two relevant ones:

“Startup is an organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.”

Steve Blank,

serial entrepreneur and professor of entrepreneurship at the University of California Berkeley.

“A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup. Nor is it necessary for a startup to work on technology, or take venture funding, or have some sort of “exit.” The only essential thing is growth. Everything else we associate with startups follows from growth.”

Paul Graham,

co-founder of Y Combinator

Both definitions above, as most of the startup’s definition, consider growth and scale an essential part of a startup. The reason is that startups are focusing on a market opportunity that is based on technology with a limited window of opportunity and in a market with some degree of winners-take-all characteristic.

Although growth is so important, startups don’t have as many resources to achieve their growth as big corporations.

I guess the important question then is: How can a few guys in a garage not only fight but defeat big corporations?

Startups rely only on highly motivated and skilled team, so do many big corporations.

So, what is the difference? The difference is in their culture. While a startup has a Culture of Growth, most big corporations have a culture that undermines innovation and disruption, limiting their growth.

Culture is what drives how a team works and what it can accomplish. Most people already heard about the importance of culture, but what exactly is a corporate culture? The simplest and best definition of culture that I’ve seen is:

“Culture is what your employees do when you’re not around”

Robbert Sutton and Huggy Rao,

authors of Scaling Up Excellence

As companies grow, the founders won’t always be around to help the employees decide what to do, however, in a fast paced environment that changes all the time, such as in an innovative market, the company can’t rely only on the decisions made by the management team. Therefore, making sure that employees make the best decision for the company in incredible fast starts to be surprisingly important.

Based on that, my definition of culture is:

A set of values and behavior in a corporation that influences employees decision-making not only on big decision moments but also in daily activities.

Companies that have a culture that enables fast and reliable decision-making have an unfair competitive advantage.

Not only that, the right culture is a valuable asset to hire the best employees. People are motivated in two different ways: Intrinsic motivation and Extrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivation is related to rewards such as money, fame, and others. Startups don’t have enough resources to fight big corporations for the best talent regarding this kind of motivation.

On the other hand, intrinsic motivation is related to internal rewards such as a sense of accomplishment and belonging. Studies by Karl Duncker show that intrinsic motivation is more effective when working on a problem that needs innovation and hard thinking, which are the kinds of problems faced when disrupting a market.

Great people are more motivated by intrinsic values than extrinsic ones, therefore, startups use their culture to foster intrinsic motivation to attract the best talent and also to empower them to perform at their best.

 

Ok, but what is a Culture of Growth?

A Culture of Growth is a culture developed to enable high growth in a company, especially startups. Although each company will have its own and unique culture, I have identified 10 traits that are present in most companies with strong cultures that foster high growth. Below follow the list in no specific order:

  • Owner’s Mindset
  • Talk Straight and Feedback
  • Customer Centric
  • Communication and Transparency
  • Result-Oriented and Data-Driven
  • Trust
  • Excellence and Big Thinking
  • Accountability
  • Alignment
  • Test and Learn

In the next few posts, I will detail each one of those traits and how a startup can implement tools to cultivate them.

I would like to hear how is in your company? Does it have all these traits? Does it work well?

Key Takeaways:

  • Culture is a set of values and behavior in a corporation that influences employees decision-making not only on big decision moments but also in daily activities;
  • A Culture of Growth is a culture developed to enable high growth in a company;
  • A great culture is an unfair advantage and helps attract the best talent;

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kueski and Fintech in Mexico

Kueski and Fintech in Mexico

What’s in it for me:

  • Why Mexico is an interesting market for fintech?
  • Why Kueski is an interesting startup?
  • How Kueski works?

Talking to many investors, I realise that more and more they are interested in what is happening in Latin America. In the last year, we have seemed a couple of great investment rounds in Latin America’s startups from top tier investors such as Sequoia Capital (Nubank in Brazil), Andreessen Horowitz (Rappi in Colombia), Accel Partners (Cornershop in Mexico), just to highlight a few. Here follows a Techcrunch post by Julie Ruvolo, explaining more details, article link.

This way, I decided to start analysing the best startups from Latin America so that people could understand better what’s happening in Latin American startup ecosystem.

For this post, I selected one of the hottest startups in the fintech, Kueski. Kueski is a Mexican startup that received US$ 35 MM round from which US$ 10 MM is an equity investment co-led by Richmond Global Venture, CrunchFund, and Variv Capital (source), and US$ 25 MM is a debt round.

First, let’s start talking about Mexico. Why Mexico is an interesting market for fintechs?

Here follow some important statistic about the country:

  • GDP of US$ 1.063 trillion (15th largest economy by GDP, and the second in Latin America) (source);
  • A population of 128.6 MM people, 10th largest population (source);
  • Only 27% of the population older than 15 years is banked (source);
  • 17.3MM credit card issued, less than 13.5% of the population has access (just for comparison, Brazil has 28% credit card penetration and US more than 40%) (source);
  • Even with credit card, Mexicans prefer to pay in cash in 47% of the transactions while only 36% of the times with credit card (source);
  • There are 44.2 MM smartphone users, a penetration of 34.4% (source);
  • 69 MM users of internet, a 56% penetration (source);
  • Basic interest rate is no 5.75% (source);
  • Credit card average interest rate is 32% (source) and default rate of 5% (source);
  • 56.6% of the population are informal workers, which correspond to 23.6% of Mexico’s GDP (source);
  • Private sector credit is 32.7% of the GDP while in Brazil is 67.9%, and US is 188% (source);

This data show the huge potential for fintech startups in Mexico. It’s a big country where most people are still unbanked without access to credit cards,  but that have access to internet and smartphones. The credit private sector is still small compared to other countries.

Fintechs can exploit these conditions to delivery financial services in new ways. And that’s exactly what they are doing, as Mexico became the most active fintech ecosystem in Latin America (source and more information).

 

Let’s talk about Kueski now. Kueski is a micro-loan startup from Guadalajara founded by Adalberto Flores and Leonardo de la Cerda in 2012.

Problem and Customer Segment

The problem Kueski is trying to solve is the Mexican population access to credit, especially for those that are unbanked. They decided to focus initially on the small and short personal loans.

How it work?

It’s quite easy; anyone can enter their website and request a loan.
Right now, they have a minimum limit of $1000 pesos (US$47.13) and a maximum of $2000 pesos (US$94.26) for the loans and also a limit of 30 days to pay.
After filling a form, they give you answer in 29 minutes regarding the loan request.

So, what exactly is their value proposition?

Money in developing economies is scarce, so it’s not as easy to get credit in Mexico as it is in the US, for example. Their value proposition is to give an easy and fast way to access credit to anyone, including the 73% of the population that is unbanked and doesn’t have access to this kind of financial services.

Quite an interesting value proposition, right?

But how works their business model works?

Kueski does the underwriting process and lends the money itself, charging an interest rate.

Since they use their own money to lend, makes a lot of sense the debt round of US$ 25MM  they raised (credit line up to US$ 100MM – source). With that money, considering an average loan of $ 1500 pesos (US$ 70.70), they can borrow to more than 350,000 people, not considering taxes and reinvesting the money. That leaves them with a good working capital for the loans.

Their revenue model is an interest rate charged in principal of the loan. Due to the risk profile of this kind of investment, they charge a very high-interest rate, an average of 339.3% per year, which is quite high compared to the average interest rate of a credit card (32% per year). It’s important to remind that less than 13.5% of the population has access to a credit card.

Just making a rough calculation, with an average loan of $1500 pesos (US$ 70.70), even with a default rate of more than 60% they would still have a profit margin higher than 20%. Not bad, right? (I’m not considering tax and fees)
Although I don’t have data from their default rate, I would guess that it would not be so high since the default rate for credit card there is only 5%. Even though, Kueski has still two problems to deal with:

  • They still don’t have a very good historical data to have a more probabilistic idea of their risk;
  • They probably suffer an adverse selection because they will attract as customer people that couldn’t get loans with financial institutions with lower interest rate;

Due to the high-interest rate that they charge and the debt round they raised, I think they have enough room to overcome those challenges. Also, my guess is that their secret sauce is in the underwriting technology that they use.

I would love to understand better how they do it, but I couldn’t find much information about it. What I know is that they use social profiles as input for their underwriting process.

Another interesting side of their business model is how they make loans available for unbanked people. Since most of their clients (my guess) don’t have a bank account, they developed a partnership with a local Bancomer (local bank) and a chain of stores called OXXO, which is a convenient store that has more than 14,000 stores in the country.

Why is Kueski an interesting startup?

Mexico is a market where still most of the population don’t have access to credit. They are using technology and an innovative business model to untap a huge potential market. Also, as Kueski doesn’t have the pressure of banks as competition, this gives room for them to experiment and improve their underwriting process.

What’s next?
My guess is that they got the debt round and set the loan to a small amount to test as much as they can, this ways start to have some historical data and also to improve their underwriting process. It’s important to highlight that the underwriting process and the acquisition strategy are key to their business model to work.

After learning and improving the process, they will probably focus on higher amounts and more long-term loans using technology as a differential.

I don’t think they will try to compete directly with banks since their cost of capital is probably much higher, especially because there is still a huge market to explore.

What do you think? Would you invest in Kueski?

Key Takeaways:

  • Mexico is a hot market for fintech startups;
  • Kueski is targeting a blue ocean market that doesn’t have many other options;
  • Kueski underwriting process is probably what will make or break the company;
  • There is still room in the market for Kueski to target larger and longer loans; 

The Demoday is dead, long live the Demoday

The Demoday is dead, long live the Demoday

What there is in for me:

  • Why Demodays aren’t working anymore?
  • How Wayra Brazil improved its Demoday format and achieved great results
  • What others startupa accelerators are doing?

In 2014, our team at Wayra Brazil was struggling with the limited results in our last Demoday. Wayra Brazil, as most startup accelerator, had at the end of its acceleration period an event to present its accelerated startups to investors and the market.

To contextualize, in Brazil, we were having a boom of startup accelerators, leading to a boom also in Demodays. Most of them were quite similar, a big event where startups pitched 5-10 minutes to an audience of around 100 people composed of venture capitalists, angels investors, press, partners (lawyers, accountant…), other accelerators, and other startups. After the pitch session, there was some moment to socialize, especially for the entrepreneurs to talk with the investors, while having food and drinks.

It was a big event, therefore was not only expensive but also a burden to organize it.

Our team decided to analyze the problems and propose improvements to this “traditional” format. As we always ask our startups to talk to their potential clients to understand their problems and perspective, we started by talking with our clients: Wayra’s startups, angel investors, and venture capitalist.

Talking with entrepreneurs, we understood better many of the challenges they faced and also asked for ways to improve. The main problems were:

– They had a lot of pressure to do the perfect pitch in 5-10 minutes in front of a big audience;
– They didn’t want to open all their numbers since there were non-investor people, press, and might even have competitors;
– They also had trouble to talk with the investors after the pitch session since the event was crowded, and investors were always stopped by someone;

Talking with the investors, we discovered more problems.

  • The partners in the VC funds didn’t want to participate in Demodays anymore because they couldn’t talk with the entrepreneurs, and startups didn’t present the important numbers. So they sent their analysts which didn’t have the same view and decision power;
  • Investors agenda, especially partners, are really complicated with many travels out of the town;
  • Investors started to see the Demodays as a networking event, instead of a significant deal flow event;

In summary, Demodays were starting to become more of a party than a fundraising event, which, of course, wasn’t what we wanted.

Working with those problems and the ideas investors and entrepreneurs told us, we began to brainstorm how we could improve the Demoday and achieve our goal of increasing the number and the volume of investment in our startups.

After a couple of days discussing, we decided to not only change some things of the Demoday, instead to restructure it. We decided to focus on improving the connection between the entrepreneurs and the investors. That is when we came up with the concept of the Demoweek. Here follow the main changes:

  • The event would be only to investors (angels investors and venture capitalist). If you’re not an investor, sorry but you’re not invited;
  • Instead of a big event for many people, we decided to make it more like a business meeting. The entrepreneurs would have 20 minutes with an audience of no more than 15 investors, who could ask any question at any time;
  • The Demoweek would be (surprise) a week long, giving more schedule options to the partners of the funds to participate. The investors would be divided into small groups to interact better with the entrepreneurs;
  • Each day 8 startups would pitch during the morning organized by the amount they were raising. So we had different days for angel investors, seed investors, Series A, and Series B, making it more straightforward for the investors;
  • Each day after the pitch session, we would offer lunch to the investors and entrepreneurs, giving more opportunity for interaction between the investors and the entrepreneurs;
  • Not all graduating startups were presenting, only startups that were performing and that were raising capital presenting. Also, they could be from any previous batch;

With all those changes, we had incredible results in our first Demoweek. The entrepreneurs and the investors loved the new format. More important; we increased the number of investments in our startups.

We achieved all this while lowering the cost and burden to organize the event. After our first experience, it was settle, our Demoday from that day on, would not be a Demoday, but a Demoweek.

We’re not the only ones to realize the problems of the Demodays, some of other Wayras were trying different formats to improve the outcome.

I know other formats from different accelerators that doing interesting things to solve those problems

One of those accelerators is Techstars Chicago, which has two separate Demodays. The first one happens in the morning only for important investors, where they put all the startups to pitch at the same time to different investors, one at a time, and then the startups rotate to pitch to another investor. The second is in the afternoon and is a bigger event open to the other parties in the community, more similar to the “traditional” Demoday.

The Demodays as we know are with their days counted; new formats will appear to solve the problems listed above and also to adapt to local ecosystems.

I would love to hear your experience with Demoday. How did you think they could be improved? Which other formats did you see and enjoyed?

Key Takeaways:

  • The Demoday format has many problems that some accelerators are trying to solve
  • Dare to think outside of the box, don’t be stuck with a traditional format if it’s not working for you
  • There isn’t a one size fits all for the Demodays, 
  • Always get your customer perspective of a problem before coming up with a solution

Stretch Goals for Startups

Stretch Goals for Startups

What there is in for me:

  • Should a startup use stretch goals?
  • What a startup needs to use a stretch goal?
  • The framework of The Stretch Goal Paradox works for startups?

I recently read an interesting article about setting stretch goals, “The Stretch Goal Paradox” by Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller, and Kelly E. See.

Setting stretch goals became quite famous recently, especially in the tech world because of the OKR methodology that Google, Intel, Twitter, and other use. In the OKR (if you don’t know what it is, read these slides), the goal isn’t to achieve 100%, but rather to set a challenging goal that even you working hard you would probably achieve 70-80%.

They are also very common when a new CEO is hired to turn around a company and needs to change moral of the team and also to convince the investors.

The article argues that not all companies should use stretched goals because it can backfire. Also, the authors propose a framework to evaluate if a company should use it or not, as you can see below.

r1701f_sitken_stretchgoals-850x578

They use two variables to evaluate: Past Success of the Team, and Uncommitted Resources. The framework seems to make sense, at least for big corporations. However, my interest is in startups! Would this framework work for them?

Let’s check each variable for a startup. First the past success of the team, by definition, startups are still in early stage, not having any real past success, at least in the actual company anyway.
Regarding uncommitted resources, we all now that startups don’t have spare resources, they always lack resources. They are most of the time working beyond their capacity.

Using those assumptions for variables in the framework, we got that none startup should use Strech Goals. But… Should they?

Growth is the fuel for startups, a startup without growth is a walking dead startup. So, startups should grow, not only grow but grow really fast. That means that they should put hard goals to achieve and work as hard and intelligent as they can to achieve it. Would any of the great startups we have been successful if they didn’t have bold and audacious goals?

That leads me to conclude that all startups should use stretch goals, meaning that the framework won’t work for startups.

Although I think all startups should use it, they have different problems than big corporations. Therefore they need to evaluate different variables to check if they should use or not.

  • The startup should have a metric-oriented and accountable culture. If the team isn’t focused on metrics and it isn’t held accountable for their results, setting a higher goal will just make the CEO get even more stressed;
  • Startups should understand well their business metrics before commit to a stretched goal. It’s bad to walk in the wrong direction, but it’s even worse to run with all your strength to the wrong direction;
  • The startup should have a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG). The team will put all their effort to achieve a challenging goal if it’s linked to a remarkable purpose, not just because the CEO set the goal.

There might have other pre-requisites for a startup to use stretch goal in a proper way, even though those seem to me as the main ones.

What do you think? Should a startup use a stretch goal or not? Why? When to use and when not to use?

Key Takeaways:

  • Stretch goals are even more important for startups
  • Use stretch goals when you have a metric-oriented and accountable culture
  • Use stretch goals when you know well your real business metrics
  • Use stretch goals when you have a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG)

Here follows some BHAG to inspire you with yours:
“A computer on every desk and in every home.”Microsoft
“Organize the world’s information.”Google
“Connect the world.”Facebook
“Transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone.”Uber
“Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”Tesla
“Make easy to do business anywhere.”Alibaba
“Remember everything.”Evernote

The Importance of Communication in a Startup – Part II

The Importance of Communication in a Startup – Part II

What there is in for me:

  • Why communication is a key attribute for entrepreneurs
  • Good news and bad news, which one to share with my team
  • How to build trust and motivate your team using communication

Continuing my last Communicating with Investors, now let’s talk about:

Communicating with the Team
If you’re really aiming to create a great company, you and your team are onboarding in a very tough journey. The problems with communications usually start in setting the expectation. As working in a startup is cool nowadays, everyone wants to work in one, but few are willing to face the struggle and work the long hours necessary to create a great company.

Startups need a talented and dedicated team, so it’s important to set the expectation to the new employees upfront and make sure they are willing to commit together with the rest of the team in this endeavor.

The other problem that many entrepreneurs face related to communication with their team is the difficult to inspire the team toward the dream the entrepreneurs have. Sometimes the entrepreneurs can’t articulate in a proper manner his mission, and other times is just a lack of communicating it well to the team.

If a CEO wants their employees to give all their sweat and blood for the startup, he needs a clear Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG) and communicate clear and constantly to all members of his team. Elon Musk uses SpaceX BHAG to motivate his team to achieve unthinkable results, here follows its statement:

“SpaceX was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.”

That is a quite powerful goal to motivate SpaceX team, even during the many arduous times they face!

Another common communication problem entrepreneurs have is not delivering bad news.

Is part of the human nature to not like it to deliver bad news; we don’t want to disappoint people or make them feel bad.

Therefore, founders tend to only communicate good news to their team. When a big account is won, they celebrate; when an investment round is closed, they celebrate even more! However, when they lose the most valuable client or when the startup has a month of cash…silence! During these situations is exactly when you can identify the great entrepreneurs. They inform, take responsibility, and work together with their team in a plan to turn the situation around!

If you worked hard to hire an amazing team, don’t expect them to be stupid and don’t discover what is happening in the company. Also, remember the equation from the post Part I:

CHANGE + UNCERTAINTY = CHAOS

Although there will always be change, good and bad, in a startup, entrepreneurs can reduce the uncertainty by communicating the situation, preventing gossips and speculations that can lead the team into chaos.

Google has a meeting called TGIF ( “Thank God is Friday”) where any employee can ask any question to the founders, that shows a culture of communication and transparency.
When times are hard, it isn’t the lack of information that will save a company. Rather, a great leadership and a motivated team are needed to overcome this situation. For your team to work hard for you, they need to trust you! And they won’t trust you if you’re hiding the situation from them.
Concluding, communication problems with team can have a huge impact on a startup performance, for better or worst! Start a culture of communication while your team it isn’t that big, changing it in the future is going to be a bigger challenge!

Key Takeaways:

  • Have a great Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG) and communicate it
  • Sharing bad news is as important as sharing good news
  • Don’t hide bad news; your team isn’t dumb
  • If you hired the right team, trust them
  • Change + Uncertainty = CHAOS

The Importance of Communication in a Startup – Part I

The Importance of Communication in a Startup – Part I

What there is in for me:

  • Why communication is a key attribute for entrepreneurs
  • How to build trust using communication
  • How to communicate bad news

It amazes me how few people talk about communication and transparency for early stage startups. Communication is probably the most underestimated skill for entrepreneurs, although everyone knows that is an important skill for great leaders.

I’m not talking about the ability to speak well and inspire people, although that is also an important skill, I’m talking about the ability to keep people informed about relevant information.

People tend to communicate well when times are good but shut them down when things go badly, however, these times are the ones that need to overcommunicate to prevent even worst things to happen, to not break trust, and to get help.

Harry Kraemer, a Kellogg professor about Leadership (I highly recommend his book From Values to Action), tells a simple equation:

CHANGE + UNCERTAINTY = CHAOS

In a startup, change is constant. Nonetheless, uncertainty is only created when people don’t communicate properly about the changes to the stakeholders.

There are two important stakeholders that invested literally their career and money into the startup, and that need to be aware of what is going on with. Your team and your investors!

I will break this topic into two posts, one for the investors and the other for the team.

Communicating with your Investors
I think most first time entrepreneurs are afraid of their investors and don’t want to show their weakness and mistakes. They only report the good news, leaving the bad stuff hidden. Although that seems logical, good investors know no entrepreneur will ever get everything right. Shits happen! Investors are more concerned how the entrepreneur react when that happens than the problem itself. If your investors expect you to get everything right, I’m sorry to say you this, but you probably got the wrong investors!

If entrepreneurs report only good news, this will lead investors to mistakenly believe everything is fine while it isn’t. When the investors discover what is really going on, they won’t trust anymore the entrepreneurs, leading to a micromanagement and a lot more reports.
When something serious happens with the startup, entrepreneurs should immediately contact the investors; I know its not easy but you need to do it. Making a parallel, if your friend gets seriously injured, you know you need to call their parents to give the news, it isn’t easy but is the right thing to do. Although investors aren’t your parents, they not only are in this endeavor together with you but also is in their best interest to help you out!

Frequently and direct communication with your investors is key to building confidence.

When I worked at Wayra Brazil as the responsible for the acceleration process, we had a one-page monthly report with the main KPIs of each startup with some business updates.

The startups that were struggling kept complaining about not having time to fill the reports. Interesting enough, the best startups delivered the report on time and without any complain, and they had much more work than the previous one.

My conclusion is that the best entrepreneurs understand that communication is key to develop trust with investors, and communication is a characteristic of great leaders. In the second part of this post, I will explore how to communicate with your team.

Key Takeaways:

  • Report frequently to your investors
  • Report good news as well as bad news
  • Report critical news as soon as they happen and ask for help
  • Don’t be afraid of your early stage investors; they invested in your startup mostly because they believed in you
  • Change + Uncertainty = CHAOS

De sócio desenvolvedor para CTO

De sócio desenvolvedor para CTO

 

Muito se fala da transição que o CEO precisa passar quando a sua startup cresce e vira uma empresa, e que já não necessita mais de um empreendedor desbravador como CEO e, sim, de um executivo que sabe gerir uma empresa grande. Alguns conseguem fazer essa transição, porém são poucos.

Porém te um outro problema mais frequente e que pouco se fala, sendo que é uma transição igualmente importante e que acontece bem mais cedo na vida de uma startup.

Quando a startup deixa de ser uma empresa de 2 ou 3 sócios fundadores e passa a ser uma empresa de 10 pessoas, os fundadores precisam assumir papeis como CEO e CTO de uma empresa.

Normalmente é escolhido para ser o CEO o sócio que tem sua opinião respeitada, que sabe gerenciar e motivar as pessoas, dessa forma a transição para se tornar CEO não é tão problemática.

Por outro lado, a transição de um fundador desenvolvedor para CTO é algo um pouco mais complicado.

Desenvolvedores são conhecidos por serem autossuficientes, não gostarem de serem gerenciados e não terem muita habilidade para gerenciar e motivar pessoas. Outro ponto interessante é que, normalmente, quanto melhor um desenvolvedor, mais intenso são esses atributos.

No começo de uma startup isso não é nenhum problema, pois o que a startup precisa naquele momento é um excelente desenvolvedor. Porém quando a startup começa a crescer, temos um grande problema.

A principal atividade do fundador desenvolvedor deixa de ser desenvolver, ele vai continuar tomando decisão da estrutura de desenvolvimento, porém ele também passa a precisar liderar uma equipe de desenvolvedores, ou seja, contratar, delegar tarefas, gerenciar e motivar a equipe. Porém vale lembrar que ele odeia que gerenciem ele.

Dessa forma a maioria das startup deixa de ter um excelente desenvolvedor para ter um CTO medíocre. O que normalmente gera bastante stresse entre os sócios.

Caso o sócio não tenha o perfil de CTO e também não tenha muita experiência gerenciando equipes ou sendo gerenciado, torna-se bastante difícil a transição.

Uma alternativa seria contratar um CTO de fora da startup, certo? Porém é pouco provável que o fundador desenvolvedor vá aceitar essa decisão. Primeiro, porque quanto melhor o desenvolvedor mais ele acredita ser autossuficiente e mais difícil dele admitir que não tem o que é necessário para ser um CTO. Segundo porque ele é sócio fundador e não vai querer ninguém mandando nele.

Assim a startup fica num dilema que com certeza irá atrapalhar o desenvolvimento dela. Quanto mais tempo se perder sem resolver esse dilema, gera cada vez mais stresse entre os sócios e a startup não evolui do jeito que deveria.

Para solucionar esse problema é preciso deixar os egos (de todos os sócios) de lado e conversar sobre o que é melhor para a startup. Não, pode ter certeza que não será uma decisão fácil de se tomar.

Existem formas de se contornar esse problema, por exemplo dividir o papel do CTO em dois. Um que toma todas as decisões ligadas ao desenvolvimento do produto e outro que é o responsável pela gestão da equipe de desenvolvedores. Dessa forma seria possível contratar alguém para a gestão sem precisar colocar essa pessoa acima do fundador. Pelo que saiba, foi feito assim no Moip e tem dado certo.

Você já teve essa dificuldade? Como solucionou esse problema? Conte-nos.