Building a strong founding team
Why the founding team is key to your
Panellists on your founding team
Attracting new talent & building an employer
Creating an employer brand to showcase
you company culture
How to write a concise and compelling job
Top tips to making the right hires
Panellists on employer brand & culture
Ensuring you are legally compliant with your
job offers - Morton Fraser LLP
Maintaining your company culture as you
Panellists on maintaining your company
culture as you grow
Managing your team across multiple
The implications of Brexit on the Scottish
3. Products and ideas grow, evolve and
sometimes pivot in a totally different
direction. Funding can always be found
for truly game changing ideas and there
will always be a host of competitors
round the corner to shake up your
market. However, more than anything
else, early stage businesses live and die
by the people that bring them to life.
Scotland has a thriving start-up scene with companies across a range of
sectors developing exciting concepts to make our lives that little bit better.
There is a lot of support and advice on how to get started but scaling the
business is a whole different ball game.
Most experts agree; an innovative company can have all the potential in the
world, but without the right people in place it is almost certainly destined to
Recruiting can be easy, but building a team of great talent isn’t. That’s why we’ve
combined our professional knowledge with insight from some of the country's
leading entrepreneurial knowhow to provide you with the tools to build a
Skill up as you scale-up… for success.
It can be easy to fall into the traps –
employing friends without the right
skillsets; creating a team of ‘mini-
me’s’ who don’t provide diversity of
thought to challenge the team; hiring
for skillsets but not taking account of
the cultural fit; recruiting for the
now and not for the future and most
importantly not taking action when
things do go wrong.
Are You Ready To
We’ve looked at, amongst other things
• Building a strong founding team and why it’s important
• Creating an employer brand to attract the best talent
• Maintaining your company culture as you grow
• Managing teams across multiple locations
4. Add a little bit of body text
Time: 5.30 - 8pm
Venue: Morton Fraser LLP, 2
John Peebles Maria Rooney David Hunter
Phil Worms Colin HewittStuart McWilliams
5. Building a Strong Founding Team
Aim for the Top of the Charts
Diversity of skills is essential to success.
It’s a bit like starting a rock band.
You can’t have everyone playing the same
instrument and you need to be able to
balance the egos!
6. Entrepreneurial success is rarely the result of just a brilliant idea. It comes from the
founding team’s never-say-die attitude and relentless execution.
They are the people who build the business and shape its character. They establish the
DNA – the values, culture and ethos of the business – that will run through everything
So what makes a great
7. You need a great front man, (CEO)
someone who can create the buzz and
blast out the vocals to sell the story and
create the vision.
This role should be performed by a core
founder, usually the individual with the
strongest vision and the highest
aspirations for the company.
You then need to find your drummer.
(Commercial Director) It’s crucial to have a
baseline of sales or at least an idea of who your
customer might be so you need someone to carry
the beat and ensure you’re selling from the start.
They will also ensure the tempo of your sales
funnel ramps up to match the various stages of
Having someone attuned to user (or potential
user) feedback allows for continual improvement
based on market needs and means that you are
developing a product or service that someone
actually wants to buy.
So many companies fail because the product or
service is developed in isolation without
consideration to the customer.
Then, the quiet one. Your bassist. (CFO)
Financial Management is so crucial in the early
stages when funding is tight or as your business
scales and you’re pitching for more.
Cash flow is king so you need someone to keep a
steady rhythm of financial management to ensure
that you don’t burn through the cash before the
next funding round is secured.
It’s essential to be able to assess the viability and
profitability of the organisation to create
meaningful engagement with investors.
Finally on the mixing desk you need a
technical (CTO) whizz… constantly fine tuning
and refining the proposition based on feedback
and input from the other team members.
Everyone needs to be focused, aligned and clear
about who’s filling which role to meet targets and
stay ahead of the competition. You definitely
can’t carry passengers and you may wear several
hats in the early stages.
It doesn’t matter how many people make up the
founding team, what matters is that you have all
the key roles covered – technical, sales and
finance – and that you are able to challenge and
complement each other to work towards a
8. Your Founding Team
The Key To Securing
"Having invested in a
number of small businesses
and run my own company for
13 years I know how important
having the right founding team is to
a successful scale up. "
Scaling a business depends a great deal on funding.
There are obviously a number of sources for this but the
first thing any potential funding partner will look at is the
founding team and how well they operate.
Obviously there are other elements to a successful company but in the
mind of an investor they very much start and finish at the feet of the
founding team and if there is no faith in that team then there is unlikely
to be any funding.
So what are they looking for?
9. For there to be any chance of a business successfully
scaling up there needs to be a clear vision that
everyone buys into.
The founding team have to provide that vision and inspire the
passion and drive throughout the rest of the organisation to ensure
everyone is pulling in the right direction.
Discussion and debate is at the heart of successful business leadership but
as a founding team it is essential to present a common vision.
V i s i o n
D u t y
Investors are also looking to be assured that the
people running the team have the requisite skills to
make a commercial success of the business.
They want to see a significant return on their investment so if they
have little faith in the commercial nous of those in charge they will
take their money to the next start up or they will replace those in key
It’s important there is a sense of purpose and a duty of care
for the business entity and it’s people.
While the leaders of the business are focused on delivering success it
can’t be to the detriment of their team.
10. Potential investors need to have faith in the strength of
the founding team.
Tough decisions need to be made and made quickly.
If there is a sense of indecision among the founding team this won’t
inspire investor confidence.
Fun Finally, something I’ve noticed is that the best businesses out
there all generally seem to be having fun.
They know how to work hard but they are all acutely aware that
it’s essential to enjoy what you do too.
Scaling up a business is hard work.
Investors are looking for people who have the stomach for the
fight, who will work the long hours and lead by example, setting
the tone for the business.
As mentioned investors won’t accept passengers and will quickly identify
the weak link in the team and will want them replaced.
John Peebles - It is essential you recruit the right
people at the right stage of business. Working in and
running a start-up or scale-up business is a fast paced
environment and you can’t carry passengers, especially
when they are in decision-making positions. The right
experience is essential at every step of the process, I’ve
found people very often can’t learn quickly enough.
However I also firmly believe that you have to balance
that experience with the right values alignment. We are
focused on creating the ultimate human organisation
but this is reliant on everyone at within the leadership
level buying into our values and living them. The
investors we work with also share a passion for our
values. Much as the right founding team is important in
attracting investment so the investors have to buy into
your values too.
David Hunter – I think it’s essential to be honest with
yourself and know your own capabilities. The focus has
to be on building the best product or service on the
market and ensuring that the company as a whole is
successful. Ego can’t get in the way of the end goal.
For instance, I have a strong technical background
and have been central to the technical development of
Shot Scope but I knew to ensure we produced the very
best product I needed someone with the even greater
technical ability than I have. Lewis our CTO has brought
a whole new dimension to our product. Combining this
with even greater customer insight has made a real
12. Maria Rooney - The characteristics that the founders at
Fanduel demonstrated from the outset are still very
much in evidence today. If I was to describe them
collectively I would say they are ambitious, risk takers,
tenacious, innovative, people focused and collaborative.
Despite being based in the UK, they pioneered an entire
industry with the introduction of their daily fantasy
sport product which they launched in 2009. The
ownership and autonomy that they fostered within the
team has resulted in a strong sense of loyalty and
commitment to the company.
The remaining founders balance being close to the
detail with leading the strategy; they have trusted the
team around them to hire the right people to make the
right decisions for the business. The optimism that they
have helps employees to remain focused even during
the times of adversity that start-ups face. They remain
open with their communication and make themselves
available (through structured and unstructured
channels) for people to talk to which is important as you
scale your business.
Colin Hewitt - The ability to deliver is vital. When
you’re working in such a small group, especially
amongst the founding team who should be leading by
example, everyone has to be hitting their targets.
Also, as mentioned, understanding what skills you need
at different stages of your business journey is so vital.
This has been very important as we scale up. Natural
tensions have emerged as we've grown - which is
us hitting our own limits.
Founders need to
leaders focused on inspiring the
team to push boundaries and pursue
big goals, uniting round a shared purpose.
Just when you think
you’ve got your team and
situation figured out, things
In a growing business
there comes a time when you
have to stop thinking small
and step up.
14. It’s important to recognise that the dream team that you
envisioned for your StartUp is not necessarily going to
translate as your business grows. It’s extremely difficult to
achieve a team of qualified go-getters who will nurture
your business as if it’s their own.
Trying to find individuals with the right blend of mindset
and technical skills, prepared to do ‘whatever it takes’ to
realise the dream, without the emotional (or equity)
investment of the founders is a challenge!
Start by defining a clear picture of what you’re
looking for. Create a strong employer brand to
define what you want for the future of a company
so that new employees know what they are buying
into. This should be an extension of your existing
brand values so that your internal customers are
fed the same message as your external clients.
You need to create and commit to a process for
how positions are defined, promoted and filled.
What does the interview process look like; who
needs to be involved in the hiring process and who
has the final say?
It’s also important to give consideration to how
new individuals fit into the hierarchy and salary
scale and what the on-boarding process should
involve to ensure that your new employee fully
understands your company and their place in it.
Read on for our
insight into how
to create a
advert and to
hire the right
15. In such a competitive
your brand to attract the best
talent can be a real
The first thing to say is your brand is not
just the logo that sits at top of your
headed paper or on your website. It is
there to represent the organisation you
are creating based on the values and the
ethos of have instilled.
The key to this is to be honest and
establish something you believe in. You
will find it hard to maintain a mindset
for your company and encourage others
to believe in it if
Put yourself into the mind of your
customers, both internal and external,
and identify what you want them to feel
when they have any interaction with
CREATING YOUR EMPLOYER BRAND
To Showcase Your Company
Download any guide into branding
and you’ll find a range of
approaches. However, having
worked with a number of
successful companies we’ve found
there are a few key building blocks
that will ensure you are on the right
track to building a home for your
16. Every brand has a story. How it came into existence,
how it has got to where it is now, what has made it
the organisation it is today.
People are interested to hear what has gone before
but this also provides you with a foundation from
which to build your house.
The Ground Floor
The First Floor
Your brand story will then dictate the values upon which you will
build your company. These will provide you with the blueprint
that will inform the decisions you make going forward and will
help you create the customer touch points that will build a picture
of you company in their mind.
They will dictate everything from the way your company is
represented on social media to the creativity in your advertising;
the tone of your communication to the layout of your offices and
the customer feedback system you implement.
Your brand personality emerges from your values. This is the
personalisation of your business and how you’re organisation is
perceived by those working with you and for you.
All your communication channels should reflect these personality
traits so put yourself into the mind of your customers, both
internal and external, and identify what you want them to feel
when they have any interaction with your company.
This is the final part of constructing your brand. Your vision
encapsulates all the other elements into one clear statement that
your whole organisation can rally behind.
It could be to establish the number one company in your market,
you might want to become the best employer brand in the
Whatever your vision is make sure it is
built on sound foundations.
17. How To Write
A Concise & Compelling
Job and Person Specifications
tend to be focused on the skills and
experiences a company require of a
Sometimes these can be cut, pasted and copied from
others and then amended which tends to come across as
Taking time out to think about the role and person
you require can be highly beneficial.
18. As an organisation scaling up it
needs to be more than a list of
duties and responsibilities.
What is going to attract your
company to an individual over
and above a recognisable and
stable brand that can provide
predictable but stable
Before considering a move a
candidate will want to see a
compelling, well written job
description that sells the
company, the role and the
vision. You want to attract the
best candidates for your role
giving you access to top talent
rather than fielding out
candidates who are unsuitable.
Show candidates that your role
could be career changing and
strategic for their future, help
them visualise their input and
align their goals and
aspirations to your company.
You need to of course to provide:
Don’t forget that it also needs to
comply with Employment
Skills, experience and relevant
Company Culture &
Salary, Benefits and the
Sell what top talent in the
market is buying –which
doesn’t tend to be big
salaries and inflated job
19. At Talent Spark we are regularly asked by
small companies and start-ups to advise
them on their recruitment process for
This is the perfect time to advise as the
people who are working with you at the
start, while they might not be with you all
the way through, are the people that help
you build the brand and ethos that will
define your company.
Top Tips For
Making The Right Hires
20. We get asked to assist with scoping out team structures,
writing job descriptions, refining interview processes and
advising on salaries & benefits packages.
In doing this work we have identified our top hiring tips
for the start-up with lofty ambitions.
This is a difficult balance to strike. As a
growing company you need to be aware
of the shape your company will take in
the future and need to hire the right skills
and people to help you get to this.
However you also have an immediate
requirement that you need to meet.
Take time to think about how you can
strike the best balance between these
two situations – for example looking for a
CTO who will eventually be able to
manage a technology product and lead
team won’t help with the current
requirement of someone who is hands on
to help building a product. Hiring a
Senior Engineer who has the capacity to
grow into a CTO role but can get stuck in
solving your current problem might be a
Always plan for the
future but don’t forget
your current needs
21. Finding the right person-fit for
a company scaling up can be
difficult. The fact that a lot of skills
are currently in high demand, mixed
up with lower salaries typically
offered by smaller companies and
your vacancy suddenly seems very
difficult to recruit.
You don’t have the cash to provide
huge salaries – so what else can you
More and more we are seeing
candidates asking about other non-
financial benefits; additional
holidays, options to buy/sell
holidays, flexible or home working
maternity/paternity leave and
equity in the company.
Really think about what you have
the ability to offer and speak to
candidates about what’s important
Be realistic in what you expect
Which skills and experience are
really essential and which ones
could a good candidate
probably learn? Which ones
could potentially be put on hold
until the next hire?
Don’t create a wish list
23. We have tried to keep it reasonably simple. Our staff are the bedrock of everything we do as
an organisation. We want to create the ultimate human organisation whose staff are the
reason for our success. In keeping it as focused as possible we have two simple
elements that are key to our organisation;
Mechanism – Administrate is built on a values based culture. The values we
expect people to hold are ingrained in everything we do. They motivate
me and they motivate my team.
Learning – Our brand is built around the shared dream of
the UHO, and the way we’re going to achieve that is
through constant learning and improvement
within the context of our values.
However this is wasted if your organisation
loses its identity as it grows. This is your
essence, it’s what differentiates you
from the competition.
Creating the right brand is what differentiates you.
It sets you apart and can attract the talent you are after.
Unless you are passionate about golf our product doesn’t have
the universal appeal that others do so it was essential we created a
culture that appealed to our target market.
We focused on an American style culture with open offices, flexible working,
drinks after work either in the office or out as a group.
In my opinion the other important ingredient to creating a brand people want to
work for is to operate an open and honest culture. We have a warts and all approach
and every quarter we’ll do a Q&A so that the staff have the chance to ask questions and
talk to any of the leadership team.
24. Focus on what you’re passionate about and make sure that that is coming across
clearly to the outside world.
The best talent will have an idea that they are good and will look to identify
with that success
People that are right for other companies won’t be right for you -
so we try and be real, and communicate that as authentically
as we can.
We don’t try and pretend, but we also recognise
we could do a better job of communicating
really what we’re all about.
Building a brand to attract talent follows the
exact same principles as building a brand to
Strong brands are authentic, relevant, and distinct -
those principles employed correctly will always attract new
customers and likewise top talent.
From an outside perspective, we have all the trappings of a Silicon
Valley start-up with ping pong and fully stocked beer fridges but if you
took that all away tomorrow, we also have the strong foundations in place
that are important in both attracting and retaining talent.
We focus on culture, diversity, innovation, employee development and
communication and our employees are our greatest advocates as they champion
FanDuel at events and through the recruitment process.
25. For start-ups and small businesses, recruitment can be a
daunting process with the key to avoiding pitfalls being
Before you get started, organise employer's liability insurance, set
up a payroll system, register as an employer with HMRC, and check
with the Pensions Regulator whether you need to set up a pension
When advertising the role consider the main tasks and objectives,
and the qualifications and skills required of any candidates, as well
as job title, salary range, and hours. To avoid discriminating use
neutral language (salesperson, rather than salesman) and avoid
loaded terms (such as ‘youthful', or ‘active').
After interview, you can issue a job offer conditional upon getting
references and evidence of the right to work in the UK. Check that
the salary is in line with the national minimum wage.
Ensuring You Are Legally
With Your Job Offers
You must issue a contract with certain required
information. Whilst sample documents are available
online, it is better to have documents tailored so you can
ensure the terms both meet the legal requirements and
reflect the needs and culture of your business.
Employers in the technology sector, for instance, should
include duties dealing with confidentiality and the
ownership of intellectual property.
27. Leadership is important in any business but it is vital
when you are growing.
Growth usually brings about change and creates periods
of instability where everything is amplified- whether
that’s positively or negatively.
Leadership is not to be confused with Management. In a
small team it’s easy to supervise your team; you know
what they are doing and how they are doing it but as the
team increases you don’t have the time to supervise
them in the same way.
You have to clearly determine in the business who is
managing and who is leading the team.
A relaxed culture of fun and freedom is great for a small
group, but can be tough to manage with larger
teams, however not impossible, if you’re dedicated and
The environment you’ve created is a big part of your
company identity and working out how to maintain or
evolve it as you grow is essential to bringing the team
Leadership is about
looking after people,
fostering the right cultures
and behaviours and setting
the tone for the business
for the future.
28. Most problems in a growing organisation result from a
lack of communication. In a small business employees
have sight of the whole company they feel connected to
the leadership team and the brand, ethos and values of
the organisation. As the company grows they need to
understand the changing needs of the business – what’s
expected from them and what behaviours may not now
In reality, this is the time to create a structured system of
appraisals, reviews etc. It’s best to have this in place
before you are big enough to really need them. If you
start with the right practices the growth of the business
will be much smoother. Introducing a system when you
are already trying to battle growth and change makes
things more challenging.
If employees are engaged and involved they feel inspired
to come up with ideas to help grow the business. Your
best performers will get other opportunities and if you
don’t work to make them feel valued, trusted, involved or
motivated then they’ll move elsewhere. Reflect on what’s
worked effectively in the past and consider means to
continue/develop the procedure.
Correcting a negative
culture is much more
stopping it forming in
the first place!
Could you maintain innovative, agile ways of
working with smaller cross functional teams
focussed onto individual projects?
Can you keep communication from the top
effective with internal newsletters?
Would regular team meetings and social
activities keep the right mix of fun and focus?
create a system
the team to
the new ways
of working to
continue to feel
29. There is no easy solution to maintaining your culture as you grow.
It takes time and hard work but you have to be very intentional
about it.Spending time refining and perfecting your training is
vital as this has to grow with you to reflect your organisation.
Something that not all investors want to hear is that it takes
investment too.You have to invest significant amounts of money
in your processes and training if you are committed to creating
and maintaining the winning culture that has helped you get
started.I find regular one to ones are a good opportunity to
maintain the personal culture we want to foster here.
30. At Shot Scope we have designed our approach to recruit for
personality first and then for skill.We have a very young
ambitious culture here and we want hungry people who demand
Generally our workforce is young and we find they tend to have
the stamina and passion to sustain the pace we look to maintain
in our business.But we are committed to this approach and
believe this commitment will help us maintain our culture.
31. For me it’s about keeping the energy levels up and being clear on what your
company is all about and where it’s going -that’s still something a lot of
companies are trying to figure out -so it’s tough in the early days.
Apple has a different culture to Facebook which has a different culture to
The culture will develop out of the direction you’re taking as a business and
the strength of the relationships,the energy and the vision that people can
bring to those roles.
What matters to me is that it's authentic and not fake,that people are
genuinely excited about their roles and are moving more towards their
strengths and the team is evolving to fit the gaps. On top of that -we’re
looking into systems that will serve us better,to allow us to clarify our
objectives company wide,and make sure we’re communicating as clearly as
possible as we grow,helping people understand where they fit in,and what
they can bring which is unique to them.
32. The definition of a winning start-up culture will be different for different people.
We have tried to maintain the behaviours that were so successful from the
outset and to embed these with new hires through our recruitment and on-
boarding process. There is an evolution that needs to take place when your
headcount increases dramatically and you are no longer a ‘start-up’. As the
culture evolves,it means you can be more thoughtful in terms of what makes a
great culture,the early days are about product development and meeting the
needs of the customer and board.
As we have grown,we have defined what our culture is,articulated our
values,conducted surveys to understand where we are working well and also
what needs to be improved to ensure that we are always moving forward.
Controlled growth is important and understanding the changes and the impact
on employees is crucial.The CEO and board members have taken employees
through the tech cycle journey to demonstrate the highs and lows that come
with it,bringing employees on this journey helps them to see what is ahead of
them and they become passionate about being part of making history.
33. It can be a real challenge to maintain the start-up culture if the company has to
look overseas for key skills.What makes many start-ups attractive,and
successful,is the flexibility for employees to take on different roles but this is
difficult to fit alongside the Home Office requirements that sponsored workers
only carry out the particular job they were hired for.
Similarly the Home Office system requires employees to work full time and for
companies to closely monitor attendance and output,which can be difficult
where a start up's culture involves flexible or remote working.
These problems can be overcome with careful planning but a start-up needs to
seriously consider how they will meet their obligations to the Home Office if
they look to hire workers from outside the EU.Putting simple procedures in
place,and making sure staff are aware of these,can go a long way to
preventing issues from arising.
34. Managing your Team
Across Multiple Locations
Managing a team that's spread out in many locations
can present huge challenges, even for the most
How do you ensure that everyone feels they're treated
fairly, if you see some team members much more than
How can you prevent remote team members from
feeling isolated? And how do you get all members to
buy into the team's objectives and stay on track?
35. Have a strong communications strategy.
This is especially important if your team members
are in different time zones and speak different
languages. Make sure that the technologies you use
– such as instant messaging, VoIP, and
teleconferencing – are reliable.
Frequent technology failures are frustrating for
remote workers who can't easily pick up the phone if
the video suddenly fails during a virtual meeting.
Encourage your sites to integrate and allow
employees to visit the other locations occasionally
to get to know their colleagues in other places.
You want the team to feel connected and integrated
towards a common goal. This is especially important
when the team is internationally spread.
so beware of the
Finally, when your organisation spans
several countries or continents make sure
you find people who really buy into your
organisation – you need to ensure that they
will be loyal to the ethos and values of your
36. Technology is key to ensuring effective
communication across multiple locations. All of our
five offices have large theatre areas where we all
gather and take part in our weekly all company calls
which are also broadcast to those dialling in from
Company days are held twice a year across all
locations where we share not just business updates
but also cultural updates and of course our social
We have had held forums to discuss virtual working
to ensure that our meetings are effective and
inclusive and we have also created chat rooms for
people to still have the water cooler conversations
even if they are sitting in different offices.
Different communication channels are needed
depending on the message so to ensure that the
message is received consistently, we consider the
best medium to communicate key messages. There
is still the need for regular face to face contact and
employees travel for project work and team
We operate across different time zones and we have
a lot of creative people. We aren’t policy heavy so we
manage teams with a view of what we can make
happen rather than what we can’t.
We strongly believe that what we put in, we will get
Our culture is
based on trust so
working hours in
a way that is
going to suit
38. I think Brexit will be a challenge for tech startups in Scotland, particularly in
terms of staffing.
A number of my clients have recruited heavily from the EU in recent years
and there are concerns about whether staff will be able to stay or not, a
recent Chamber of Commerce survey said 5% of companies had
experienced resignations due to Brexit!
Early indications are that staff who are
already employed will be able to stay
but we can't be of sure of this and I
recommend EU nationals consider
applying for registration certificates or
residence cards to help protect their
position in the UK.
It's a really simple process and only
costs £65 so it's well worth the
We don't know what the post Brexit
system will look like but in all
likelihood it's going to be harder for
companies to hire from the EU and this
will be a significant challenge for the