Monday, September 28, 2009

The Phases of a Startup

I once had a phone interview with an applicant that had seen more than his share of start-ups. He heard me talk about our team and was able to accurately describe the open office layout and our office communication style (mostly yelling across the room). He heard where we were with manufacturing our product and with our funding rounds and was able to translate these things into an understanding of the roles of our team, the processes we did and did not have, and where we would need to beef up in our next hiring round. He just seemed to get what start-ups are all about.

I thought about this as I talked with other start-ups. And I began to see more and more commonalities between each of them. They have ups and downs, growths and layoffs, and stages of development. It's official {I'm noting the date and time}, I am now interested in the phases of a start-up.

There are plenty of folks out there describing start-up phases - there are 4 phases here and 3 here and this one is good. However, awhile back Mark Jung, former IGN CEO (Now Vudu CEO) did a presentation at Stanford Technology Ventures Program outlining phases that I find valid and particular pertinent to an HR practitioner at a start-up.

The 5 Phases are:
  1. Start-up and inception
  2. Growth
  3. Unfortunate setback
  4. Rejuvenation/Rebirth
  5. Transition
I think it's possible to look closely at these stages and use them as a guide. When you see the 'growth' period ahead, you know it's time to put basic workplace policies in place and initiate your hiring plan. How do you best divide up functions and roles as new people come aboard? It would be nice to be prepared for the 'unfortunate setback' and, as best is possible, proactively address employee concerns and problems.

I like this list Mark Jung! Thanks. I wonder if there are characteristics of each phase or indications of a transition to the next phase? How many of these characteristics are common across start-ups? How much can we learn about each phase?

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