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A Cheat Sheet for Startups

Unbiased Tips to Set-up an Ultra-powerful Product Team - A Cheat Sheet for Startups

Posted by Manish

Setting up a product team is considered one of the most important crucial tasks in the startup product development. Behind every successful startup, there is a dedicated team focused on the purpose behind it. Take the example of WittyFeed, barely two years into its operation, it already became the world’s second largest viral content company owing to the trio behind this. The team of co-founders is brothers and their college friend which ensured good collaboration and they bring different skills and a variable mindset to the field.

While getting your ideal team together, you need to keep in consideration various factors such as team composition, nature of product, requirements but most of all how much they can forgo themselves and work together as one, single unit. Below are some of the measures you need to assess for building product development teams.

Four key components to building a great product team

  • Build a Strategic Hiring Plan
  • Define Key Competencies
  • Develop Questions to Assessing Competencies
  • Interpreting Responses to Standardize Evaluation


While all the above factors are equally important, they are in a certain order, so make sure that you don’t skip one or other before proceeding to the next one. They give best results when performed in specific order.

Build a Strategic Hiring Plan

Preparing a mastermind strategy, building an execution action plan, these are things that every single one of us thinks of doing at the start of anything but rarely do. Everyone wants the thrill of the action but no-one wants to cope with the boredom of the planning stage. You must do this, its the very beginning and the more strong your start is, the more are the chances of your success.

Well begun is half done” — Aristotle (320 B.C.)

While drafting an interview strategy and hiring plan, keep in mind that it’s a two-way street. The only way you will get the right talent is if you show them what is in it for them as well as seek what you need. To achieve this, you need to have a clearly defined set of objectives and goals. Determine the ideal candidates that you want to be a part of your team and finalize the application & hiring process. Make sure that you provide each candidate with the job description and brief them on the details.

Define Key Competencies

Based on the role that you are hiring for and your ultimate product needs, these can vary. Some of the key competencies that you can choose from are high emotional intelligence, attention to detail, data-driven, being pragmatic etc. This practice is best done if all the members involved in the hiring process decide over this first individually and then finalize the priorities in a group discussion.

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Defining what your key competencies are for each role isn’t enough, you have to detail them. The same thing can mean different to different people. You have to clearly define what you mean and expect by mentioning that particular competency. Most people would say anything in an interview to get the job, you have to make sure that candidate you are looking for actually has those qualities in a person and not just in the resume, which brings us to our next part.

Develop Questions to Assessing Competencies

In order to be able to get to know your potential candidates better, you must develop a series of questions to assess them. For example, to determine emotional intelligence you can ask questions such as “Explain how you handled being vaguely misunderstood?”. There would be many questions but each of your team members needs to select their favorites amongst them. Further, based on individual favorites, you need to finalize a set of questions upon which the whole team agrees. These will be the set of questions that you will be asking the interviewing candidates.

Interpreting Responses to Standardize Evaluation

To analyze these responses, you need to go through all the answers by keeping in mind as to how you would have answered that specific question. Different persons on your team would have variable opinions. Narrow down the favorites using the same process that you used for deciding on key competencies and developing questions.

Taking the example of the sample question we previously mentioned, a suitable answer for “Explain how you handled being vaguely misunderstood?” will be the one which reflects upon that time and rephrase the experience in their own words showing how they understood others and focused on their point of view. You wouldn’t want someone who has answered this stubbornly and denied being ever misunderstood.

Considering the work needed to be put through all the process, it can take a toll. But, if you are thinking that whether if it is worth it then the answer is yes. The amount of time spent and efforts took is much less bad than if you end up hiring the wrong candidate.

Tags : cheat sheet for start up, start ups, key components of building product team



Apart from having a keen interest in startup culture and being an entrepreneur myself, I have also had a passion towards technology and creating things since childhood. I maintain a tech blog to nurture that as well. You can see my past work credentials and contact me on my Linkedin.




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