- When you think about your founding team, and you think about your early employees, experience in the domain that you're operating is incredibly valuable. The best entrepreneurs often are scratching their own itch. They're addressing a problem that they had in a prior, a prior life, a prior work, or something that they've run into in the world that they think just needs to be solved that they've experienced, but even if that's not the case, having people on the team that have a lot of experience with the product and market that you're going after is really important.
One of the things that's really useful when you think about having domain experience is not just knowing what works, but also knowing what doesn't work, and this is often overlooked, I think, especially in start-ups, is that navigating towards things that are going to have a higher probability of success often means incorporating things that didn't work in other experiences into that. Now that doesn't mean that you should fall into the trap of, well that didn't work for them. Therefore, it's not going to work for us, but you also shouldn't fall into the other trap, which is, well that didn't work for them, but we're going to figure out how to make it work, and that domain experience really helps you synthesize that because on the surface, it's going to be easy to see, oh well, you know.
That company tried to launch a product like that. I don't know anything about what happened over there, but, you know, we're going to go do it right this time. It's easy to assert, but it's really hard to build that on top of experience. So finding people who have that kind of experience is really useful. By the way, the domain might not just be around the product but around how the product is built, around how the customers are serviced. Think about, for example, a physical hardware product. If you have nobody on your team that's ever built a physical hardware product before, there's going to be a long list of things that they just, your team doesn't know anything about.
They don't know how to pick a contract manufacturer, don't know how to deal with a supply chain, don't know how to deal with sort of the dynamics around purchasing and shipping products from the manufacturer to a distributor to the end user. Even having one person on the team that has domain knowledge around that elevates your understanding of how to deal with those issues dramatically. So as you're thinking about how to put the right people together for your team, both on the founding team and the early employees, make sure you're looking for people that have some domain knowledge as part of the mix.
- Assessing the opportunity costs and risks
- Validating your idea
- Evaluating your customer's problem
- Evaluating your product
- Evaluating your market
- Evaluating your people