Entrepreneurs are often drawn to co-founders with the same backgrounds and expertise as theirs, as it is a human tendency to follow the familiar, known, and predictable. Yet, a complementary skill set in the founding team, including team members with different skills and expertise, is far more useful and effective.
Founders should have an idea of what is in their basket of responsibilities and what is simply not. Complementary skills in the team allow just that - clear role definitions from early on.
No one person can be great at everything, therefore it is essential for each team member to be great at their specific area of professional ownership. Although this could be perceived as restricting, role definitions are not meant to limit the founders, on the contrary, they facilitate responsibility and freedom to act.
Additionally, a complementary skill set can greatly assist in team harmony- when we are all experts in the same field - we have lots to argue about. Arguing wastes time, mental resources, and abscources the founder relationships.
For a technological startup, in a case where we don’t have technological and commercial skills both in the founding team, we would consider the team to be incomplete. In this case, prior to making the investment we would want to make sure founders are willing to bring an additional C or VP level executive with the necessary expertise.
A CEO with a very strong technological background and a propensity to micromanage, tends to jump in when a tech problem arises- hi-jacking the CTOs job, disturbing the workflow, and causing friction and confusion in the team.
Two co-founders founded a healthcare startup together. They met in the army when serving together in the same unit, were part of the same team, and acquired very similar technical skills and expertise. When building their deep-tech product it was a major upside. However, now when it is time to launch, their lack of basic commercial abilities- pitching, selling, forming business relationships and reaching product-market fit - is a roadblock.
It is a very good sign if founders met their team members/ co-founders at a previous business, in which both were top rank executives in the same industry, building in the same space, but are from totally different areas in that company."
“Founders who met one another while working in the same context, such as working side by side in IDF intelligence or holding the same position in the same or similar company prior to their startup."
״The answer to splitting roles is straightforward and conveyed in a clear, obvious way that defines roles such as “I am a tech person, X is a product person, Y has business development experience,” etc.״
״Generic and vague answers such as “I love to work with people”, or “I’m passionate about building new things,” are insufficient.״