It’s common to hear about the importance of the founder in a startup, or even 2 or 3 co-founders. But what about all the other players who help create the new venture?
Menyala’s mission is to build brave new ventures, and as we build we are also seeing Menyala’s purpose emerge. We believe that a founder is not a single individual. It’s about a mindset shared by a team. With this mindset, the people at the core of a project can bring more talent, ideas, resources, and networks to a venture than can a sole entrepreneur.
The truth is there is always a team of talented individuals behind every successful startup, and at Menyala we bring these individuals together for every project we undertake. As a project evolves into a venture, some of them will have a chance to move from Menyala and join the new venture as a founding team member.
What is the Founding Team Mindset at Menyala? Let’s start with just two things.
Purpose That Binds The Team
Come To Build: Build your craft | Build your experience | Build your own venture
While it seems obvious, creating purpose is easier said (or typed) than done. Menyala is a venture builder, so our purpose should be to build as many ventures as possible, right? Actually no. Venture building is a task which by itself is not an inspiring purpose. Yes, we must choose our projects well, deploy a sensible process, hire great talent, provide funding etc etc, but all these are also tasks. Our real purpose is to help builders grow to become better founders.
But what if someone loves to build, is entrepreneurial, and dreams of being a founder, but just not yet? We want Menyala to be home to different types of builders at various stages of their evolution. For our Resident Builders it’s straightforward because they are usually experienced start up founders looking for his or her next thing. But besides the Resident Builder, the rest of the founding team that surrounds the RB have roles like product manager, technologist, engineer, designer, researcher. These talented individuals join us with a passion for building great products and ventures, but they are also inspired by a sense of ownership. Some of them come ready to jump into a project and follow it as it turns into a new venture, while others want to further improve their craft — be it product management or design for example — and are not yet ready to make the leap into a new venture. This means some Menyalans move into new ventures and some remain in Menyala to work on other projects, and that’s OK. Therefore, Menyala’s human purpose is to be home to passionate people who come to build.
A Flat Culture, Not A Flat Hierarchy
It’s about progress, not perfection
Since our beginning, we’ve tried to be a non-traditional organization. We wanted to have a flat hierarchy but quickly discovered that it works only briefly while the team is still small and tribal. A flat hierarchy doesn’t scale well in terms of accountability, decision-making, communications and agility once more people join the team. What works better is a culture of flatness, a flat culture instead of a flat hierarchy. So now we do have a few layers in Menyala while our project teams are still flat. Our focus is to drive empowerment and create safety for every individual to speak up and step up to lead situationally and be an owner-builder. The results sometimes surprise us as we discover misunderstandings, disconnected expectations, and frustrations about senior leadership missing some signals from the frontline. We don’t have it right yet, but I believe we are making progress.
The concept of ownership inevitably comes to the forefront. How do we think and act, not only as owner-builders of Menyala, but also of our projects and ventures? How do we make the idea of ownership fit within the frame of our culture, values and practices? Stay tuned as we tee up the topic for a separate share-out.
We’ve learned that venture building can be as diverse as the people who dedicate themselves to it. In our search for Menyala’s methodology we have in fact rediscovered one of life’s timeless lessons, and it is simply this: There Are Many Ways To Succeed. We choose our people for their experience and strengths, but more so for their aspirations and purpose. People who desire to build something themselves and put their stamp on it are the ones most likely to build something special.
You are a founder when you see yourself as one. That is the Founding Team Mindset.
We’re looking for our next Resident Builder/CEO to lead our 4th venture team. So, if you’re a startup founder looking for your next big thing, we look forward to getting to know you. You can learn more here!