Start-up: How Team Structures vary from Bootstrapping to Corporatization:

This entry was posted by on Wednesday, 12 May, 2010 at

This post is a continuation to the one that I have written about bootstrapping in startups. This post will be more on how post the bootstrapping phase things start boiling down to processes and how the team which was multi-tasking ends up doing specific tasks in predefined ways.

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So in this post I would be talking about how my role in the organization varied in the last one year and will be explaining how things are different by taking a specific example of “Recruitment” into account. Though I started off as the Head HR in the company, I was more or less responsible for almost all functionalities last year, ranging from HR, Ops, Admin& Accounts, Sales and Business Development. There was no specific thing that I needed to achieve when I enter office at 10AM, I might plan to do sales but might end up resolving an internet issue in the lab, things were very dynamic and hence not structured. But since we had more people in the management team, things started changing, especially since the two interns from BITS came in, there was more bandwidth for all of us and we could focus on specific verticals. Let me tell you all this was possible because we could achieve sustainability in terms of our finances (otherwise the pressure would have been completely different). So this is how the team structure evolved into:

From what was predominantly a flat structure the organization evolved into an hierarchy, where each management team member heads a Service Vertical and also heads a support function (Like HR or Information System). Today I neednt worry about how to recruit or where to recruit from, I just need to drop a mail to the HR team and the things are done.

I would like to give an example here, how processes have streamlined our Recruitment channels in the company:

Earlier we didnt have any specific strategy to tackle the HR issue. We used to randomly shoot an ad and expect people to turn up for interviews. Sometimes they worked and sometimes they bombed badly. Recruitment and Sourcing was one of the biggest challenge and today with processes in place it has become really simple: We use multiple channels like these:

1. Employee Referrals

2. Local TV Tickers

3. Orkut and Other Social Media Channels (Orkut gave us some great visibility, loads of people in Pilani use this channel)

4. Directly contacting Computer Training institutes

5. Weekly Walkins (Helps build database)

6. Newspaper Ads and Pamphlets ( For urgent requirements)

Today our HR department has a fixed process map that they follow: (Thanks to my colleague Pramod for coming up with this). One year back I wouldn’t have imagined anything of this sort happening and I didnt understand the importance of SOP’s and documentation. (Please see the screen shot of the recruitment process that we have built, this is just part of the flow chart)

Similarly in every other team we have setup processes or are in the process of setting up processes.

Key Take aways from this post would be :

1. Try and achieve financial stability as soon as you can so that the focus can be put on setting up processes and achieving scale.

2. Put the optimal number of levels in the organization. A small firm like ours needn’t have a zillion levels. (Its not about what you write on your business card, its about whether that level is necessary or no)

3. Try and move out of bootstrapping as soon as possible. (Easy to say, tough to implement, I still get sucked into micro-operations and I fire fight even today)

4. Processes are not built in a day (they need to evolve continuously) . You have to start building them slowly. At least start off with your version 1.0, rest of the changes can be made based to what is required.

5. Scale cannot be attained without set processes in place. (Dont even dare to try)

Would like to hear your thoughts:

Please let me know what you think about this post. Add comments if you want to share your thoughts and experiences.

Would like to thank all my teammates for all the hard work they are putting in to setup and implement processes. Right now Animesh (@anm1988) must be breaking his head on the quality process implementation for our Internet Related services team.

I think I also need to thank Manoj, CEO SourcePilani and Kavi, Apna active advisor for all their efforts in driving us towards a process oriented company.

2 Responses to “Start-up: How Team Structures vary from Bootstrapping to Corporatization:

  1. nihar

    Great post macha!

    Here’s a question I have:

    I always hear about the importance of processes when you try and scale up. Further, you said processes need to evolve continuously. Is it not possible to just pick something up from a management textbook? I understand that each company is different and each market is different, but is there not enough theory to even start with?

    Also, in the post preceding this you said that one needs to not have too much structure in the bootstrapping phase. Can you elaborate on that?

  2. Nihar to answer your question I would like to first state that to implement a process on a regular basis you need bandwidth. Bandwidth comes at a cost, say for example if I need a set process for HR from day 1 I will need a HR manager who would handle the same, similar for Operations (Quality processes etc.). With operations the other deal is that to design a process in operation you should know challenges from the local context which you cannot rip off from a text book.

    Hence my assessment that processes should evolve with scale. To not crumble at scale you need to hire the right people at various levels and not worry about micro management and focus on the larger picture. In the initial days you will have more pressures and hence perhaps cant go all out hiring people at various levels.

    Hope this answers your question. I guess this is the same answer for bootstrapping question as well.

    Happy to debate


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