Building the management team in an Indian startup

4:23 AM Suvir Sujan 1 Comments

It takes a few good men and/or women at the top that are passionate, focused, and work well together and have the right complementary skills to get a startup off the ground. However attracting quality senior management to a startup is certainly a non trivial task. Identifying, attracting and converting senior management candidates in India is time consuming and a lot of hard work.

Here are a few tips to ease the process of attracting senior talent into your startup in India :

Start focusing on the organization early. An entrepreneur needs to quickly evaluate the gaps in his or her organisation and be obsessive about bringing on the "right" senior management team on board. An entreprenuer needs to be intellectually honest about his or her own strengths and weaknesses and look to bring on people who can execute much better than him or her in the weak areas. An entrepreneur also needs to think laterally when looking at bringing on senior talent as there may not be abundance of talent available with direct domain expertise in India. Often, domain knowledge can be learnt. What is more important is the core competencies and values that an individual demonstrates.

One a candidate is shortlisted, convincing them to join can be a difficult task. A credible investor, board member and/or advisor can play a very important role in helping build the senior organization in a startup. Typically, Indian managers harbor entrepreneurial ambitions but are scared to take the leap to join an unknown startup. If there is someone the candidate can converse with whom they find credible that is personally involved with the company, it can really help faciliate thier decision to join. So an entrepreneur must always try to choose the right investors and advisors that can help them build a strong organization. This holds specially true for India and may not be the case in other developed markets where startups are well understood and an entrepreneur can easily attract talent.


Agree with a lot of Suvir's comments.

few things that I have found useful in attracting and retaining top managers at early stage are

1.Try and first source from professionals in your network.

2. Have an extensive and lengthy interview process to determine mutual fit

3.Have a defined job role and also outline the powers that will be delegated

4.Work out the compensation and a credible and benchmarked risk-reward equation including payouts and esops

5.Founders need to spend a lot of time with their top & middle managers (at least 33%)

6.Founders need to consciously work at soft issues like culture and organization's climate