From the cartoons, we watched on Saturday mornings (Rugrats lovers rejoice!) to NFL superstars Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski; life is all about successful partnerships.
This fall each of our interviews fittingly centered on life learnings and as we reflect on what we’re grateful for, I’m most appreciative for the questions that were left unanswered.
We’ve been especially fortunate to spend time with successful founding teams this month who caused me to forget my questions about marketing, funding, and business models in turn for meaningful life lessons. Thus, instead of the Entrepreneurship 101 class I was seeking I’m proud to have gained the newfound insight that business is as more about people than strategy.
While it appears that relationship building is the simple part, just as it takes trial and error to find the perfectly sweet cookie to accompany your Christmas morning hot chocolate, cultivating meaningful relationships is not an easy feat.
We sat down with seasoned entrepreneurs Bhavin Shah and Paul Tyma to discuss how they evaluate company partnerships, their co-founder relationship, as well as the culture guidelines they’re using to lead Refresh.
Here’s what they had to say:
On Business Partnerships:
- Prioritize meeting people as one of the most important parts of your job. Once you target individuals you’d like to partner with, whether for company relationships, advising or funding, be appropriately persistent to bring them on board.
- Regardless of the opportunity, be highly responsive and open to the ideas your connections present. This indicates the consistent desire to grow your business.
- Especially in the early stages, new partnerships need to align directly with your big goals. If working with another company isn’t getting you closer to your ultimate mission it’s best to stay focused on the task at hand.
- Remember that as a young startup your time is precious and your resources are limited. Ensure that the individuals and businesses you partner with respect that.
- According to Paul, a co-founder relationship “ is the closest thing to a romantic relationship without any romance I’ve ever had.” Remember Justin Timberlake’s advice: It’s the person you want to spend Saturday morning with, not Friday night.
- Establish a concrete division of labor that plays off of your strengths and weaknesses. Once you’ve highlighted your areas of expertise enable each other to make decisions without consulting the entire team.
On Team Building:
- Forget about hierarchies. This isn’t eighteenth century England, be flat and transparent with your team about the company’s direction, successes, and shortcomings.
- Prioritize cross-functionality to involve as many team members as possible in major company decisions.
- Just like you wouldn’t talk about the latest product feature or investment meeting while hiking with friends engage your team outside of the office to build deep relationships. Try Bhavin and Paul’s quarterly overnight off-sites (Hello Vegas!) to cultivate a family-like culture.
To learn more about Bhavin and Paul’s startup leadership strategies tune into today’s episode of 33founders and download Refresh here.