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A start-up with creative founders also needs to hire professionals

24, October 2016 | Prashant Mehta

The “Theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance” explains that each side of the human brain controls different types of thinking.

As per this, a person who is "left-brained" is often said to be more logical, analytical, and objective.

A person who is "right-brained" is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful, creative and subjective.

Apple's Steve Jobs often used this theory to have an aggressive mix of his employees which were both "left-brained" and "right-brained"

“This was how he sized up the world” says Ed Catmull, President of Pixar Animations, in his description of the genius who founded Apple.

In 1986, Pixar Animation was a startup and its investor George Lucas (of the iconic movie series “Star Wars” fame) had just exited, making them look for another investor.

The savior was Steve Jobs who was, at the time, recently ousted from Apple.

Ed Catmull believed that Pixar could not have survived without Jobs. Sometimes, he wondered whether it would survive with him.

Varda Pendse, director at Cerebrus Consultants, says that many startup founders are, similarly, creative visionaries who are energetic and hence, restless.

That is how she describes Rahul Yadav, who is now dubbed as enfant terrible of the Indian startup ecosystem, quite in contrast to his blue eyed boy image as the founder of Housing.com.

He was ousted by the company's financial investors after his spats with them management went public.

Pendse says that creative people have highly creative minds, constantly buzzing with ideas and turning them into loners.

Such behavior is not conducive to the growth of startups, she says.


Complimentary Professionals

To imagine a start-up company without creative founders is generally not possible.

The founder(s) usually drives the product/service concept passionately and works at converting this into a marketable and scalable product/service.

But to convert the start-up into a successful company a professional CEO /COO is required who will manage it on a day-to-day basis, create a scalable business strategy, put in structures, systems and processes in place as well give role clarity to each employee, lead, guide them and hold them accountable as well.

In addition to this, the CEO/COO also manages shareholder expectations, overlooks all people and process issues as well as completely manages sales and marketing efforts.

This complimentary combination of the founder(s) creativity and passion along with the professional approach of the CEO/COO is what will drive the start-up on the path of success.

Professional challenges

In the constantly changing world of startups, professionals have their own set of challenges.

Professionals leaders from large multinationals or similarly large companies have always worked in structured environments which are process-led with well-defined job roles.

They are known to be usually not comfortable to work in an unstructured environment and put in long hours to create and do everything from virtually nothing.

High growth startups often have business plans which are constantly altered.

Startups, which are inherently risky, also make mistakes and try and learn from them.

Professionals who are from large companies are usually risk averse and have been trained to constantly assess and avoid risks.

Without taking a calculated risk and betting against the odds, it is quite impossible for startups to have a very growth rate.

Some experts believe that professionals with such traits are available more in the telecom and technology industry.

These industries have undergone tremendous growth in the last decades and the professionals have handled the extensive marketing of new products and product lines.


In reality it is also a practice that many startups prefer to hire from the FMCG industry as many e-commerce and other startups believe it is closest to the businesses that they are running.

Generally, professionals from FMCG industry have experience in sales and supply chain management. However, these industries are currently growing in single digits.

In the current economic environment, it is rare for an FMCG company to have double digit growth.

The first few

Start-up companies need professionals who have worked in large companies since they have to grow the company from an idea to a scalable and profitable growth company.

It will be in the start-up's interest that the first few key employees have a similar mindset and attitude as that of the founder(s) and they are able to be there for the first 3 years which is a crucial factor.

Most importantly they should be able to deal with uncertainty most of the time.

To sum up, it is always in the start-up company's interest to have the right mix of creative founders(s) and professionals

Hence a mix of both “left-brained” and “right-brained” employees would be an ideal fit.


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