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Effective Team: Which Roles in Startup Cannot be Neglected

The process of organizing any startup involves the stage of creating a team. To make a business efficient, it is essential to allocate roles in a startup correctly.

Written by RamotionAug 11, 202211 min read

Last updated: Feb 16, 2024

According to Investopedia statistics, less than a third of early stage startups survive the so-called "valley of death." At the same time, most companies fall apart within the first three years. Several reasons lead to failures, and one of the main ones is that not all employees are ready to selflessly fight for the development of a business in the early stages.

That is why, for the company to work smoothly and efficiently, it is essential to recruit a reliable team when you launch a startup. This article will discuss how to prepare a team for a startup, what kind of employees you should look for and what to do with them later.

Of course, the distribution of roles in a team always depends on many factors:

  • The startup's direction
  • The initial capital
  • The geography of the company
  • The goals and objectives of the project

However, let's consider the process of creating a startup as a whole, regardless of any particular industry. Then, it is possible to highlight the key roles each team should have in creating a startup to be high quality and effective. 

Team Lead

Only an experienced and skilled developer with leadership skills and knowledge in project management who can work in the back and front positions becomes a chief executive officer. Their tasks include:

  • Dealing with the most challenging parts of the project.
  • Helping the team.
  • Managing the development process.
  • Therefore, a good team leader is both a developer and a manager.

According to a Stack Overflow survey, 76.7% of team leads work full-time in development companies, and only 6.7% are freelancers. Therefore, finding a good team leader is not easy, but it will definitely lead to a startup's success.

There are three ways to get a team leader: hire (but this can be long and expensive), appoint (you must have a candidate with the necessary experience and qualifications in the team), and grow (suitable for those who have a lot of time to develop a startup and grow such specialist).

Project manager

Organize the process of work and keep in touch with the client. The main goal of the project manager is to implement the customer's idea on time with the development team. The project manager sets goals, monitors their implementation, holds meetings with the team, and organizes planning.

A necessary clarification: many people believe that a project manager in IT should understand development at the level of programmers or designers.

However, this is not the case - a person without a technical background can also lead a project if soft and hard skills are suitable for this position.

Backend developer

The backend developer does an essential part of the job. Even though the user does not see the server side of the page, it is she who powers the site or application.

The backend is responsible for the logic of the site. For example, when a user types a query on a search engine page and presses the Enter key, the frontend ends, and the backend begins.

The user's request is sent to Google or another search engine server where the search algorithms are located. As soon as the information the user was looking for appears on the monitor, the return to the frontend zone occurs again.

Frontend developer

Frontend developers design and implement interfaces. They are responsible for making it convenient for the user to interact with the page. The user sees everything on the site is the work of a front-end developer or layout designer.

The layout designer's task is to lay out the designer's layout using HTML and CSS. Coders know the basics of JavaScript, but this is not the leading technology for their work.

A coder can become a front-end developer if he expands his knowledge base. For example, many web developers don't like typeset layouts anymore - such specialists know the JavaScript programming language and the TypeScript add-on, understand frameworks and libraries and actively use them on projects, and have a deep understanding of the server side of development daily operations.

UI/UX designer

Design sets the direction for the entire project, which is why UI/UX experts are just as important as developers. Without designers, there would be nothing to develop. In most companies, the process of creating an application begins with design. Most often, the development team has one designer who performs both roles.

This happens because a good designer needs to be able to work in both UI and UX - this reduces work time and improves its quality.

Before starting work, the UI / UX designer analyzes the customer's requirements and determines the project's target audience. This is how he understands the "pains" of those for whom he creates the application.

The designer's task is to identify users' difficulties and effectively solve them with the help of design. After that, it creates a plan to place elements on the page.

Where UX ends, UI begins. The main thing here is to make it beautiful because users' impression depends on good UI design. And it is a positive impression that guarantees that users will return to the application.

Therefore, a robust UI/UX design is the key to a successful startup team.

QA engineer (or chief technology officer)

A QA engineer or tester is a person who checks the operation of applications and tries to find errors in them. He is guided by technical documentation and sometimes just common sense. The tester evaluates the application not only from the developer's point of view but also from the user's point of view.

Therefore, the chief technology officer can sometimes correct the development process and suggest adding more convenient features to the application.

Typically, a tester checks the application itself, its performance, and its appearance. But sometimes, he also contains technical manuals and databases, analyzes the customer's needs, and even interferes with the development team's workflow. The tester constantly interacts with customer representatives, business analysts, developers, and designers in his work.

The Most Important Roles in Startup

All startup roles in the team are essential in one way or another, but in addition to the leading team, which we discussed above, there are also several positions that no startup can do without. And these include the following:

Business analyst (or business development manager)

Business analysts handle pre-sales and valuation. At the start of any project, it is essential to correctly estimate the time developers, designers, testers, and other team members will need. If a business analyst makes a mistake with the estimate, his teammates will have to work until late in the evening and on weekends. In this way, a good business development manager makes a plan for the work of the rest of the team, so the process is started only after he has completed his part of the work.

Chief marketing officer (or marketing manager)

This specialist determines the marketing strategy of the enterprise, makes decisions at the highest level, and also manages the work of the marketing service of the enterprise. Because we live in the information age, marketing plays a crucial role in business development - it is a well-built marketing strategy that allows a business to grow and develop. Therefore, the role of the chief marketing officer is significant for every startup.

Account Manager (or chief operations officer)

All startups that are created are customer-oriented. It doesn't happen otherwise. If the project doesn't have clients, it is doomed to failure. That is why customer service is so essential for any company, and the account manager is the face of the company.

The account manager is the first person in the customer's journey, so making an excellent first impression is essential.

A good account manager thinks about solutions and sees the project's starting point, the creation process, and the result to which the team will lead the customer. It is also essential for an account manager to ask for customer feedback, make day to day operations, and speak in an understandable language to maintain transparency between the performer and the client.

Chief financial officer

Not everyone pays due attention to the role of a chief financial officer in a team, but any startup needs a competent study of the financial part of the process. It is essential in advance, even before the project's development, to calculate the possible benefits and costs and form a budget for the project implementation. The viability and company's growth of the project in the future depends on how competently the accountant calculates all items of expenditure. Some startups have a money manager in their team, but many also outsource freelancers.

Which other startup roles can be

Depending on the startup mentality, other specialists may also work in the team: chief product officer or product manager (product manager responsible for the creation of new products, market analysis, assortment policy, pricing, and boosting team productivity), sales manager or chief sales officer (a specialist who is responsible for sales of IT products, solutions, and entire projects), customer success manager. You also may hire people on freelance platforms - outsourced marketing teams and sales team, use different human resources, to make the company successful, especially if it concerns early stage startup projects.

It is essential to determine the team's composition for a particular project, considering its company culture, product strategy, product idea, reporting requirements, management issues, goals, and objectives of startup founders.

Startup Team Hiring Tips

If you are starting the process of creating a startup and looking for employees for a project, then it is essential to consider some features of finding employees in a startup.

Hire for growth

It is essential to select employees in a startup according to the growth prospect and not according to the initial stats. Unfortunately, most interviews aim to identify people who know and can do more than other candidates.

However, best startup practices show that people who may have fewer qualifications and formal knowledge should be hired but are willing to learn quickly. It is these employees who, in favorable conditions, quickly outperform their colleagues.

Don't focus on a limited budget

Many tech startups face a problem - they want to hire a good specialist, but they are afraid they will not be able to pull such a person financially. There are always several alternative ways to get a great employee on your team:

  • shares of capital (the most potent weapon that you have);
  • the position of a consultant, which will develop into full-time work;
  • the attraction of a new round of financing from investors;
  • creation of an alternative payroll structure, for example, based on sales or other performance metrics.

Intern or experienced employee?

There is no consensus here regarding which candidate is more suitable for a startup. Some only take on people with experience, while others prefer to take on newbies. However, it also has its peculiarities. Beginners without knowledge can be paid less, but:

  • they will have to be taught - you will spend time on it instead of leading;
  • the price of a mistake is too high - a conditional newcomer can drain the entire advertising budget and not bring customers because they do not understand how marketing works. It can also happen in other positions.

Therefore, if you don't want to take risks, it is better to hire those who are qualified in their field and know exactly what to do. Then you will not teach them, but they will guide you.

What Determines the Success of Startup

Thus, considering the main roles in a startup, we can conclude that the set of mandatory functions for almost every business will be approximately the same.

However, to define precisely which specific roles and functions your startup needs, you need to determine the startup culture and conditions of the projects that are to be closed.

Create an employee profile that your team needs and describe its main tasks and requirements. At the same time, if you are creating a project from scratch, you can focus on the experience of other companies in your field.

Another good way to understand who exactly you need is to draw the company's structure before assembling a team. This is best done in two ways:

  • The first is MVP, the minimum viable model: the team you need to start. It may consist of several people.
  • The second is what the company will be like in a year when the startup grows. Usually, new positions are added to the starting structure, and more specialists are required.

The structure can be changed - this is the specificity of the startup's product. But it is after creating such a structure that you will be able to clearly understand what specialists to look for in the first stages of development. And then your project will have every chance to become successful and in demand.