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The Foundational Trifecta of Company-building | People - Structure - Product

company-building people product structure Feb 26, 2022

In order to unlock the growth you are hoping for, you need to get the composition between the three foundational dimensions of any venture right.

I’ve spent the last 10 years going deep into business & innovation strategy, company building, digital products and leadership. I've built and helped build companies and was fortunate to work with exceptional individuals and teams on four continents from large public corporations, high growth start-ups, corporate ventures, as well as mid-sized family-owned businesses all the way to early incubation projects. The ceiling for any of them was rarely a lack of ideas or motivation. It was almost always a roadblock created by a misalignment within the three foundational dimensions: the right people working together in the ideal structure to create the ultimate product to solve the problem they've set out to solve.

I hope that by breaking down the building blocks of a successful tech startup (or in fact any venture or project), you can identify a blindspot that helps you unlock the growth you're trying to achieve.

#1: People

People are always first. Nothing comes from nothing. People initiate everything.

As Ben Horowitz put it so well in "The Hard Thing about Hard Things": "People. Product. Profit. In that order." If you take care of your people, they'll take care of the rest.

The three most important building blocks to figure out for people:

Ownership & Leadership
People need to feel ownership in their work and leadership to set course & navigate.

Project/ Skill Fit
The right people in the right position to maximise effectiveness.

Growth & Development
Today's problems won't be tomorrow's. Align personal & company goals.

#2: Structure

The structure you create and foster in your venture will steer everything.

You want an amazing culture? Great, set the incentives in a way that instead of fighting each other for promotions, people work for the success of the project. You want your team to move fast and focus their energy on the mission? Eliminate friction in their daily work and make sure everyone understands how their activity moves the needle.  

The three most important building blocks to figure out for structure:

Mission-Activity Alignment
All activities link logically to the mission to ensure maximal focus.

Logistics of execution
The "what we do, when and how". Eliminate friction and foster cadence.

Organisational Fitness
The incentive structure leads to culture and traction. Set accordingly.

#3: Product

Without a successful product, there won't be a venture for long.

The success of a product is driven by three attributes. (1) It solves a problem for someone. The potential for success is a function of size of the problem times impact of the solution. That potential can be achieved if (2) the product captivates the user over a long time and (3) gets into the hands of everyone who has that problem.

The three most important building blocks to figure out for product:

Product/Market Fit
Chase an ever better Product/Market-Fit that solves the problem best.

User Engagement
The mechanisms that engage and retain every user over the long run.

Product-Led Growth
Build the product so that it generates growth instead of paid acquisition.

Keep iterating until it clicks

For every mission or product, there is the ideal composition of the three dimensions. Our job as founders and executives is to unlock the synergies created by solving the puzzle. 

Now we know what to figure out, the difficult part will be the how. I'll dive into each of the three main dimensions as well as the nine most important building blocks to hopefully aid in your journey. In case you have a specific questions, please reach out (I mean it!). I love figuring out these kinds of blockades and help you get them out of your way!

I hope this has already helped you identify a blindspot and given you an idea where to look for a lever. Let's build the companies our world needs.


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