Flipkart’s head of product on how to build a great startup team

Choose wisely.
Choose wisely.
Image: Reuters/B Mathur
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There is so much about the Indian startup ecosystem that feels similar to the Bay Area madness of the late nineties.

It is absolutely crazy out here these days. There is just way too much money floating around, and I believe it is contributing to a very shallow setup overall. I have way too many conversations with folks about things that I believe are consequences of great work (money, title, ladder) than about how to do great work. You tend to start getting cynical when the nth entrepreneur calls to say he is starting the nth food delivery startup—or talk to the nth person who has never shipped a product and wants to be a “director”.

On the flip side, I believe that just like in post-nineties Bay Area, India has to go through this cycle to get to a much more mature ecosystem overall.

But boom or bust, substance or fluff, at the end of the day, it will serve us well to remember that great organisations are built on top of great, mature, thoughtful people. So keep working hard to find people who will stand the test of time.

I have noticed that the following rules work when building a team. Go for folks who:

  • Want to discuss the scope of work rather than title
  • Know that money, bonus, title are consequences of great work
  • Try to find ways to make the rest of the team succeed
  • Empathise and put themselves in the position of others
  • Focus on building a great organisation for themselves and others

The world seems to love genius divas, but in my opinion, the solid, smart, team player who is open to learning is a better bet any day. A team player will pick up anything, do any job—whatever it takes to help the organisation.

Ultimately, whether you are the head of product of a large company or the CEO of a small one, whether you lead large organisations or are building a new, small one, we all need help.

Great companies are made of great organisations. And great organisations are built on top of a lot of love, patience and empathy. From leaders who work hard to build a framework where fairness, integrity and transparency breeds innovation. And from teams who step up and just help each other win.

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