Startups: The Three Stages To Building The Winning Team

As a company grows from a startup (less rules, flat hierarchies) to an enterprise company (bigger teams, international footprint) the challenge for every leader is to build a winning team every step of the way. To be the best company, to succeed, you need to keep your eye on the prize and put the success of the team first. This not only applies to the world of business but also the sporting greats whose ambition, dedication and awareness enables them to step onto the winner’s pedestal at the end of the day. Take this year’s FIFA World Cup where Germany’s team stormed to glory on 13 July – the second time since 1990. Not an accident but years of planning, recruiting, training and building. Something that Germany’s coach Joachim Low described as ‘working meticulously’.

1) Lunch-Time Teams

As the founders work furiously to establish the fledgling team, flexible players are needed to simply get the job done. It can appear and be chaotic with everyone on the field running after the ball at the same time to score a goal, any goal or anything close to it. A generalist approach works just fine as long as there aren’t too many players on the field. Egoistic players with almost zero attention to others excel as they focus on simply getting it done. These rogue players succeed but often in very inefficient, hit-and-miss ways. Everyone gets tired easily as structure and efficiency is yet to be built into what they do. Founders need to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty, turning their hand to whatever is needed at the time. It is exhausting and no one can keep running forever.

You could consider them lunch-time, playground players. Having a great time, establishing something, but not providing any real competition, however, they have completed the first crucial step and have created a team, gathering invaluable experience along the way.

2) Stepping Into Semi-Professional

Individual skills come to the forefront. Players figure out that some of them are better in defense or pretty good at the quick side maneuver and slamming in those goals like Germany’s record goal scorer Miroslav Klose. Additional players are needed to compliment the core talents in the founding team. No person can do everything and be the best at everything. It would be ridiculous to expect this. And, as new hires are made, it is essential to understand what skills are needed and hire team players who fit the team. For example, Germany would have got nowhere without their talented goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to stay focused on winning the tournament, not just one game. Do not hire divas and egomaniacs because you are now playing with others. It is now all about the team – each contributing in their roles towards clear goals. Often employees from the first stage get confused because they now need to specialize in specific tasks. This can be challenging for an organization. Keep gaining experience and assessing the needs of your team.

3) Let’s Play Like Pros

Great teams have great coaches. In taking the leap into a professional, competitive environment it is no longer about all of the founders running the field or rolling their sleeves up to do the work themselves. This time is long gone. Instead, the founders or the C-level are there to provide guidance, overview, to support the team and to make each individual team member successful. They often need to step onto the sidelines to maintain the big picture view of the team, playing a vital role in guiding, shaping, strategizing and ultimately making sure the team will win. Therefore companies at this stage need to invest in A-players because these top players can multiply the outcome compared to what they cost. The perspective from the commentary box allows for a better oversight and analysis. Coach Joachim Low has his own statistics and criteria that are important to him, identifying what he wants to see from his players. For example, he looks at running intensity, how many fouls are committed, how many times the ball is won back and how many passes are made in the final third. Coaches need to know what KPIs matter to their team’s success.

It can be tempting to hold onto the exhilarating feeling of physically chasing the ball towards the goal, but it is time to let it go. If you, as the leader, do not let go and you still want to play on the field, you might win some games because of your experience… but the question is: are you winning the tournament? Now founders act like coaches and head trainers in making sure the players have the right skills and resources, and the team is motivated to keep winning, focusing on the Grand Final, even after losses along the way.

Founders will go through this process and they have to, otherwise they will lose big-time, never becoming World Champions. Why did Germany win the World Cup? Because they were the best team  even though others had better players. And the team as a whole will always win.

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Buckle-up: It’s Going To Be A Bumpy Ride

When I decided to be an entrepreneur there was an immediate realization that I would also be leaving behind life, as I had known it. The comfort of a regular existence was behind me. Friends, family and former colleagues did not as much attention as I would have liked give them and those close to me had to make many adjustments, as did I. Any entrepreneur will tell you that finding a work-life balance when you are building a company is no easy task and the guilt of not being somewhere you are needed can often take its toll. The really honest entrepreneurs will even go so far as to say that this balance is possibly a fable and that in reality there is a lot of sacrifice involved on all fronts. The status quo, even when you want it to change, is a comfort zone and not easy to leave behind.


‘Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World’. For good ol’ Christopher Columbus, his desire meant leaving behind what he knew in search of a new route to Asia.  Many would say Columbus’s voyage symbolized the spirit of enterprise. Building a startup is not too different. It takes drive, commitment, a hell of a lot of sacrifice, the longing to discover and most of all a true carpe diem spirit. In today’s world, founders and voyagers are likely cousins. Whether or not they succeed as they hoped, all have in common the will to want to be in charge of their own destiny, to carve out their own path and to discover or create something that aids development in some form.

Once I had made the decision to leave the safety of the harbor for the thrill of the unknown I remember a feeling of firm resolve wash over me. I have questioned that resolve and felt it break more times than I would like to admit. However, a quote by Columbus, seemed to have stuck with me and helped me through those times. He said, ‘You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore’. Courage, indeed.

The spirit of entrepreneurship at its core is no more and no less than the will to self-discovery. Creating your own reality rather than living someone else’s requires you to muster reserves of strength you never knew you had to begin with. At first, when you start building the right ship to take you on this voyage, you hammer away alone. You draw up plans, hatch theories and you begin the process of planning the journey with no idea how it might actually turn out. Some obssess about the destination and some fixate on the process while losing sight of the goal. The resilient one get trade off just right. If you are very lucky or incredibly convincing (or both!) you connect with people just as crazy as you, also looking down from the same precipice, at the same time. And they become your companions and your fellow risk-takers.

When you find yourself prepping at 4 A.M. with a team of lawyers, obsessing over details before a funding round, or when you are in four different countries in one week running on little to no sleep but something in you keeps you going, it is the will to self-discovery that moves us forward when even our bodies and minds are screaming to give up. Countless mornings spent getting some quality time in with family and then running off to work again – there are times I feel torn, but having a partner that understands and supports the process makes all the difference. Once the company has taken the initial baby steps and the journey is underway we barely realize how strong the momentum is.. momentum that we ourselves generated. Looking back at the harbor that slowly becomes merely a thin, blurry line behind you; you sit back, look at the horizon far head and think ‘How on earth did I get here?’

Staying grounded when everything is moving in different directions does not require that you lose your will nor that you plant your feet so firmly on the ground that you get stuck. The only way to embrace what is sure to be a bumpy ride and to roll with the punches (and have no doubt, there will be many) is to keep those who really know you very close. It is, after all, our near and dear ones that keep us grounded and our morals and values that guide us forward. We may only remember Columbus’s name today but we know he might still be sitting on the edge of the shore wetting his toes if it weren’t for those that kept him grounded and those that pushed him forward.

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Juggling Lives: Father, Husband, CEO, Not Superman

The following is the first in a series of insights where I hope to share my personal experiences, successes and failures as an entrepreneur.

Juggling Lives: Father, Husband & CEO, Not Superman

Many have spoken candidly on the juggling act that so many working fathers and mothers must perform everyday to balance a personal life, be around for their family and get ahead professionally. Missing a catch is simply not an option.

Some say we must give each aspect equal focus and attention. Others profess that you can find a way to connect these disjointed lives by changing hats and putting on a smile. I find these notions to be somewhat unrealistic and in most cases, an impossible ideal. Building a good product and running a successful business requires immense focus and dedication as does raising children and nurturing a family. The human mind does not easily disconnect from love, passion, perseverance or the hunger for success. This is the stuff of life.

Can you manage it all together? Yes. If you are Superman.

My first daughter was born in 2010 and life changed overnight. It was (and is) a thrilling time. Her little sister was born in March this year and many more adjustments ensued. There are stressful days, sleep often becomes a precious and rare commodity and partners often struggle to maintain the romance and passion however it is accompanied by an incredible feeling of joy, pride and exhilaration, which eclipses everything else. A good partner catches the ball you missed while you were juggling everything with one hand and a great partner manages to have a laugh with you while doing it. Being an entrepreneur, spending impossibly long hours at work, taking risks and forging ahead is that much more manageable with the support of a loved one.

All said and done, I am a firm believer in putting your energy and focus into building things from the ground up with dedication and hard work. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth and from a very young age I worked hard to achieve what I have now. I don’t believe there is any other way to be successful.  I spend most of my nights at the office or at dinners with clients. When I come home my little girls are already tucked in and fast asleep. Sometimes it is truly hard because I miss them as much as they miss me but I always make it a point to spend my weekends with them sans interruptions or emails. When I am there, they have my unquestioned attention and the same goes for my company and employees. Building a great company and raising children are processes that share at least some commonalities. They both require care, devotion and commitment and while it is undeniably grueling at first, the fruit of one’s labor pays off in the long term.

With so much going on it’s a wonder I ever had any time for epiphanies. Nonetheless, I had a few and perhaps the most profound one was realizing that the core of who I was had not changed at all. My hopes, dreams and ambitions were the same even as new priorities and joys entered my world. While my heart swelled with excitement, my feet were firmly planted on the ground. Voltaire (not Spiderman) put it best, ‘With great power comes great responsibility’. I have the weight of the world on my shoulders but I feel strong enough to carry it.

Getting to the kernel, how can you manage the work-life juggling act without disappointing your kids, losing tons of money or being told to sleep on the couch?

Young entrepreneurs need to understand that the ‘perfect’ family or the ‘perfect’ company does not exist. Even though popular culture and the media would have you believe yours could be, if you just bought this insurance, that sauce, this subscription or those clothes. Something being perfect implies that it needs no work and no input. Scrap that idea completely, roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. No book or article or blog can tell you how to manage it all and make it. If it does, stop reading. Nothing great ever came easy and this is the truth we want to pass on to our children. It is what you make of it. Full stop.

We work so our little ones have a chance at a better future, so that we live out our own potential and follow our dreams. We wait for the day they too realize that we weren’t Superman or Superwoman, but just Dad or Mom. We hope that they are proud of us anyway.

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Happy Birthday Adeven!

Join us today in celebrating adeven’s first birthday. In just one year adeven has grown into a robust mobile marketing analytics company with offices in Berlin and London.

We’re proud to say we’re moving ahead in leaps and bounds. adjust.io has become an essential business intelligence tool for app marketers, providing download tracking and post install KPIs to help marketers identify their best source for their most valuable users and turn data into revenue.

apptrace is already an industry renowned tool for developers, publishers and marketers to gain valuable insights into the App Store, providing free data and analytics including a text based sentiment analysis.

In just the last quarter alone this year we’ve:
- Tracked 18 million users
- Analyzed 5 million Euros of revenue tracked through our adjust.io product
- Integrated our solution with over 50 network partners
- Become an official Facebook Mobile Measurement Partner joining only seven others worldwide!

I’m sure you’ll agree that we are allowed to be just a little bit chuffed at exceeding our milestones. I’d like to thank our great team for their dedication – we wouldn’t be where we are without you!

Christian Henschel
CEO, co-founder

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Interview with YHP UK

Can you give us some background information about yourself?

I’m an entrepreneur, dreamer and dad. As the CEO and a co-founder of adeven I oversee the business and its development. We are still growing so I have the opportunity work with my team on all of our key projects and partnerships (apart from the technical side).

My background is in mobile advertising and I’ve been involved in the digital area for major media companies for over 12 years.

This includes working in the management team at madvertise, who are one of the largest mobile ad networks in Europe. I was also the Head of Commercial at MTV Networks for a few years and was responsible for the partner portfolio at InteractiveMedia.

I studied business administration at the European University Viadrina and the Bergakademie Freiberg and Communication at the Institute for Marketing and Communication in Berlin. It was an exciting time for me as it was during my studies that I founded my first company, which later became the most successful city magazine in East Brandenburg. This was my first taste of the excitement and the hard work that comes with a startup.

adeven.com founders

Tell me how you initially get into business?

Some people are satisfied with mediocre jobs, above average income and low job satisfaction. I used to have well paid jobs in huge cooperations. This is ok for people who are trying to climb the corporate ladder, but I am not one of them.

I get a thrill out of working hard, working smart and seeing my ideas become a reality. There is nothing better than realizing your dreams and knowing that you have built a successful company. It is even better if you can achieve this with like-minded, motivated people.

How did the idea for adeven start?

The mobile advertising industry was in a bit of a mess a year ago (given the young age) and we wanted to help move the industry forward. Yes, there are companies who do analytics, but no one who provides a holistic approach to the ecosystem from both an advertising and developer perspective. The whole scene was a little bit blurry or dark and we turned the lights on.

We saw an opportunity to provide technically advanced ad analytics and verification products and services for the mobile industry that simply were missing before.

We founded adeven in April 2012 in Berlin and within the first six months we had secured investor support, launched our free online apptrace tool, successfully launched our analyzer product, and opened our London office.

Understanding the app ecosystem and the advertiser’s perspective gives us a unique advantage.

Tell me about the early days, what was the hardest part of starting the business?

Everyone has dreams – some are larger others smaller. I am ambitious and have huge dreams. It took a while for my dream to crystallise before I knew exactly what company I wanted to create and how I was going to do it.

Many people don’t want to work in startups, let alone actually build one, as it is the hardest thing that you can do. No one knows your new business, perhaps the market is not matured or defined and you will be always at work.

There is an immense time and financial pressure to achieve things, and quickly. Established businesses have the luxury of achieving something in six months that a startup must achieve in four weeks – and with at least 10 projects in parallel.

The working hours can be a killer. From 9 am to almost midnight. Literally 24/7 in the battle against time to reach all the small but essential milestones as quickly as possible.

Fortunately two other co-founders, Paul H. Müller and Manuel Kniep worked along side me to get the company quickly up off the ground.

Our biggest challenge was to find talented and passionate people – we have great people working here now and look forward to growing even more in the very near future.

Because our company is operating at the forefront of technology, we spend a lot of time in training up our team on very specific technology.

I am very proud of the fact that we opened our London office within six months of founding adeven in Berlin.

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About running a company

“As a startup CEO, I slept like a baby. I woke up every two hours and cried.” — Ben Horowitz

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Baby, we are going international!

We recently launched our company adeven and also our first product apptrace.com, your one-stop-shop for mobile app tracking. Very exciting to see our baby get some coverage in the international press. I’m a very proud daddy.

TECHCRUNCH:

http://techcrunch.com/2012/07/31/developers-want-to-make-better-sense-of-the-ios-ecosystem-apptrace-could-help/

GIGIAOM

http://gigaom.com/europe/app-store-infested-with-zombie-software-claims-analytics-startup-adeven/?utm_source=social&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=gigaom

VENTUREVILLAGE

http://venturevillage.eu/apptrace-launches-from-berlin

MOBILE MARKETING MAGAZINE

http://m.mobilemarketingmagazine.co.uk/mobilemarketing/i/article/adeven-launches-apptrace

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Some opportunities only come once.

So oder ähnlich ging es mir am Ende des letzten Jahres.

“Wenn du die richtigen Menschen mit den richtigen Skills triffst, dann warte nicht.”

Träume groß. Richtig groß.

Jeder Mensch hat Träume – manche sind größer andere kleiner. Und ich habe riesen Träume. Je älter ich werde, desto genauer werden meine Vorstellungen davon, wie ich mein Leben verbringen will. Anfangs war das nur ein unscharfes Bild in meinem Kopf, mittlerweile weiß ich genau, wie es aussehen soll.

Mittelmäßiger Job, überdurchschnittliches Einkommen und unterdurchschnittliche Zufriedenheit – viele Menschen haben sich eingerichtet, es sich gemütlich gemacht in einer Welt, in der es offensichtlich um nichts wichtiges geht.

Was viele nicht wissen (wollen): Arbeiten in Startups ist so ziemlich das Härteste, was dir passieren kann. Niemand kennt deine Firma, vielleicht gibt es noch nicht mal einen richtigen Markt und du bist quasi immer am arbeiten. Zusammengefasst: niemand kennt dich, erst recht nicht dein Produkt. Was in anderen Unternehmen 6 Monate dauert, muss in 4 Wochen passieren. Und das mit 10 Projekten parallel.

Als ich mein neues Projekt gründete, war ich von 9 bis 21 Uhr in der Firma bei meinem ersten Job und dann wieder von 22 bis 4 Uhr am Rechner – und das monatelang. Hat 24/7 eine Bedeutung für dich? Jeder Gründer kann ähnliches berichten. Warum macht man das? Warum quält man sich so? Weil es die größte und schönste Erfahrung der Welt ist zu sehen, wie aus dem, was nur in deinem Kopf war – ein flüchtige Idee, ein Unternehmen wird. Du hast deinen Projekt(Firmen)Namen und der existiert anfangs eigentlich nicht und dann Woche für Woche sprechen andere Menschen mit dir darüber, Verträge werden gemacht und plötzlich ist die Idee anfassbar. Eine richtige Metamorphose.

Passion kills experience

Oft holen Startups ab einem bestimmten Zeitpunkt erfahrene Manager an Bord. Das mag für desruptive Modelle funktionieren, für neue Technologie-Projekte nicht. Im Bewerbungsprozess werden dir jene Manager erzählen, wie sehr sie das Corporate Umfeld nervt, um genau dann im StartUp die gleichen faulen Strukturen und Politik Prozesse zu etablieren, vor denen sie angeblich geflohen sind. Man braucht Menschen, die “the shit done” kriegen, ich habe glücklicherweise viele solcher A-Player kennengelernt und mit solchen Mitarbeitern bewegt man richtig richtig viel. Wenn du solche Menschen triffst, kette sie am besten fest.

Also: Start doing the things you love.

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Holy Shit – on the same page with Steve Jobs!

“The emerging trend among app developers is to market their apps as a surefire way to win customer loyalty for their brands” madvertise has grown from an exciting new German start-up to a thriving international operation

http://www.themarketingblog.co.uk/e_article002194943.cfm?x=b11,0,w

Steve Jobs Marketingmagazine


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Apple and the UDIDs

There has been some debate among developers on blogs and forums about the meaning of the word “deprecation”, but the majority seem to believe it signals a complete phase-out of the UDIDs. Or at least a phase-out of developer usage of the numbers, though Apple may still have access to them.
Christian Henschel, director of partner development at madvertise, told the Reg it was sometimes difficult to work out Apple’s intentions, adding “you never really know what those guys are up to”.
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