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10 Key Roles to Consider When Building a Powerful Startup Team
by Brett Farmiloe
November 16, 2023
Four individuals collaborating in an office

What is one key role in considering when building a powerful startup team?

To help you build an effective startup team, we asked entrepreneurs and business leaders this question for their insights. When forming a startup team, from hiring a CFO to investing in a CTO, you should consider several key roles.

The Chief Marketing Office

Never underestimate the importance of a CMO — a Chief Marketing Officer. As good as your development team is on the back end, and no matter how excellent your product is, your marketing lead is the point person in getting knowledge of it out to the masses. 

It's nice to think that a good product will sell itself, and much of the time, that is true. But before it is in a position to sell itself, you need a great CMO to introduce it and build your initial customer base.

Guy Katabi, Lightkey

The Founder

As an early-stage founder, I've learned that investors, prospective candidates, and prospective customers generally decide to invest their time, money, or resources based on who the founder is. Sure, the business idea, model, and concept are important. But at an early stage, "who" the founder is matters just as much — if not more — than the initial product idea. 

If the founder is strong, then there's a good chance you can assemble a powerful startup team now and in the future. If you're technical, consider partnering with a strong founder. And if you're a strong founder, don't underestimate the value you bring to the company and team.

Brett Farmiloe, Terkel

A Strong "Right Hand"

Every startup needs a strong "right hand" to help oversee departments and projects. Since every role is essential when dealing with a small team, having someone who can wear multiple hats is priceless. 

And when the time comes, who knows? That individual could be the perfect fit for an executive role down the line.

Greg Gillman, MuteSix

The Chief Financial Officer

A startup should have a dedicated CFO, especially if looking to raise money. It can be a part-time position if that suits you, but you'll want to have someone on the ground dedicated to the company's financial health as it builds. 

It's critical to have someone covering operations, accounting, and compliance on the backend while the CEO is busy finding investors. That way, you can ensure the company focuses on its long-term financial goals and nothing falls by the wayside.

Nicholas Vasiliou, BioHealth Nutrition

The Vice President of Sales

When building a powerful startup team, one of the most important roles to consider is who your VP of Sales will be. This role is perhaps the most crucial role when starting a startup because sales will be the lifeblood of your company. 

If you struggle to have sales, you will struggle to grow, and as a startup, you want to experience rapid growth early on. Find someone who has had experience successfully growing an early growth startup in your industry and will add value to your business. 

Invest in them and let them build a team that will fuel the growth of your business. This is why hiring a VP of Sales is one key role to consider when building a powerful startup team.

Tyler Read, Personal Trainer Pioneer

The Chief Technology Officer

The Chief Technology Officer is an important role that should be included and taken seriously when building a powerful startup team. This position works closely with the CEO. The CTO also helps outline strategies and oversees IT for the company. 

They also help to clearly define the company's business goals and help make sure everyone follows through on them. The position is vital to the success of the startup.

Sheila Chaiban, One Ocean Beauty

A Revenue Operations Manager

Using technology the right way can be a competitive advantage for a startup. A revenue operations manager is a crucial role that can help optimize the technologies associated with sales and marketing. 

A great Rev Ops team member will connect various systems, ensure data flow accurately, and help both teams be more efficient.

Logan Mallory, Motivosity

A Data Analyst

As you grow, you want to use data to guide most of your decisions. A data analyst can help you collect, organize, and visualize your current data so that you can rely on it to inform business decisions better. Without someone to vet and interpret your data, doing any significant projects or making staffing decisions can be a considerable risk.

Sylvia Kang, Mira

A Product Director

A Product Director is one of the most critical roles that any startup can have as it is their job to show the target audience the value of your business's product. Beyond the traditional role of ensuring a product is market-ready, they act as a conduit between the product and the customer.

The Product Director's responsibilities include coordinating development with messaging by working with internal teams to direct marketing efforts. They are in charge of researching personas that identify who will use the product and how it is promoted to the public. In addition, they develop pricing models that assign value and enhance sales. The Product Director's role is a startup must as they create the connection between the product and the market.

Woody Sears, Hearhere

The Chief Human Resources Officer

The one responsible for hiring your workforce is certainly not just another cog in your startup wheel. As far as essential designations that will continually impact your startup structure, the top HR position stands tall as one of the most crucial ones. 

Hiring the right personnel is one of the most vital steps for a startup, and there's no doubt that its success will heavily depend on the employees staffing it. Identifying the right personnel who fit the startup's philosophy, have the right amount of experience, the required expertise to add value, and to top it all, show the passion and drive to go that extra mile is a challenging task indeed. 

Choose the right HR top honcho for your startup, and you will soon have a top-notch team steering the organization towards success.

Jerry Ford, 4WD Life


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About the author
Brett Farmiloe
Brett Farmiloe is the Founder & CEO of Terkel, a Q&A site that converts insights from small business owners into high-quality articles for brands. Brett Farmiloe Founder & CEO,
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Washington, DC 20002

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