Posts Tagged: talent
Start-up success typically boils down to three elements: hard work, talent, and luck. Yet when we dissect the successes and failures of other start-ups, we tend to focus on the hard work and talent of the team, completely disregarding the important role that luck (or the lack thereof) may have played.
Luck definitely played a huge role in my career, both on a company-level as well as a personal level. In the early days of AbeBooks, our company got lucky twice. Luck struck first when Barnes & Noble approached us to become a reseller of the books of our sellers. This immediately doubled revenues of our sellers and attracted more inventory to our site. And then luck came again, when Amazon bought our competitor Bibliofind and folded it into the main site. This led most sellers to leave Bibliofind and join AbeBooks.
I’m certain that without both of those events, AbeBooks would most likely never have become the uncontested market leader in the used books space. And while one could argue that our hard work and talent created the right environment for Barnes & Noble to approach us, I have no doubt that both scenarios could just as easily played out another way…completely altering the course of events.
And I also got lucky a few times on a personal level. Back in 2003, I felt like leaving AbeBooks and starting something new, but my parents convinced me to stay at the company. That proved to be the right decision, as most of the success of AbeBooks (including the ultimate exit to Amazon) came in the subsequent years and defined my career.
What’s the moral of these stories? Don’t underestimate the power of luck in shaping the future of your start-up. For some this may be unnerving…after all, luck may play such an important role, yet we cannot do anything about it. However, instead of worrying about luck or fate, focus on what you can control. Aim to create the right environment for luck and its opportunities to take hold.
There’s a talent drain facing the tech industry today. We frequently hear about companies that can’t find enough skilled developers and positions are left unfilled for months. That’s why I’m particularly excited to announce Version One’s investment in GroupTalent, a talent-as-a-service platform that focuses on hard-to-fill software design and development roles.
GroupTalent matches companies with technical team members on demand. A hiring or project manager can fill a highly-technical role within 48 hours…which can make a huge difference to a company struggling to meet a product milestone or ramp up quickly. GroupTalent offers a pool of more than 4,000 curated developers and designers and already has a loyal following of early customers including Timbuk2, Crowdstrike, and 1-800-Junk.
Version One led the seed round alongside our friends at Founders’ Co-op. Menlo Ventures and angel investors also participated.
This is an exciting investment because GroupTalent offers a unique marketplace solution that capitalizes on two key trends. First, more and more highly talented technical people are monetizing their talents outside of the traditional full-time career track. And second, companies need quicker and more efficient access to technical talent in order to keep up with the pace of innovation.
Tomorrow’s economy is going to be fueled by a more fluid and often project-based workforce. GroupTalent’s platform helps make this contract economy work for both the talent and hiring companies.
“Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are” is an old saying that has some real truth to it – but it is not only valid for your private life but might also be a very useful guideline for professional situations. Interpret it in the broadest possible sense and it might help you evaluate people and opportunities very quickly:
- I found that one of the strongest indicators of a founder’s / CEO’s talent is his ability to attract top-notch talent very early on. So if you are considering joining or investing in a start-up, I would do a lot of due diligence on the quality of the team, especially its key members.
- Same holds for advisors that are associated with the company you are looking at – do they have really smart, respected and committed advisors or is it the same list of advisors you have seen at many other start-ups who are lending their name for a few percent?
- And what other start-ups is the CEO / founder close with and being considered a respected peer?
So the next time you have to evaluate a person, focus less on university degrees and past professional experiences and rather on the quality of people that this person is surrounding himself with – it might be the much more valuable signal!