When I was starting this module I was excited by the opportunity of creating a Start-up as it is my dream to one day run my own company. To get this experience in a safe university environment is an ideal situation to be in as it prepares you for the real thing. Aside from all the Hard Skills we learned on this module, it was actually the Soft Skills that were the most important for the development of a team. The ability to encourage and enable collaboration, to motivate your teammates, to get a point across convincingly, to respect the schedule, to embrace failure and to encourage everybody to participate. These are all skills that can be learned in order to work and collaborate as a team. Without them as I painfully learned, a team with skilled individuals will be limited to exactly that. Colleagues working individually within the shadow of a team.

According to CBInsights (2019), working with the wrong team, experiencing team disharmony and a lack of passion are high on the list of why Start-ups fail. I unfortunately experienced all of those phenomenons during various parts of this module.

Team issues started surfacing in November when I experienced strange problems with one former teammate. We spent the majority of the first semester arguing about the most trivial things which wore me down. It was a strange Status game which I wanted nothing to do with. I finally decided that I do not want to work with that person anymore when they showed an unacceptable amount of disrespect during an argument.
So after our first Dragons Den experience in December, I decided to withdraw from the group with all the work that I had done by that point and was prepared to finish the module individually. Fortunately for me, the other 2 members of the group felt the same way about the situation and decided to also leave and join me. We formed a new 3 person group which we called Planit.

What the first semester felt like.

The start of the second semester was very positive and I personally felt that a huge weight had been lifted off my chest. The team was working much more enthusiastically and in a faster rhythm.

My approach to team management in my current Start-up was all about being hands-on and being passionate and gritty. My teammates had different approaches and it was very challenging to get them on the same page as me, maybe because of their different values and approaches to management. Also some were maybe influenced by our previous break-up which was hard to move on from. That created a lack of motivation in my team members which I did not know how to pull them out from. I wanted to create a better culture by talking about ‘how we should do things here’ but I found it challenging that my teammates had reserved personalities and preferred not sharing their issues with the team.

This whole experience has been bittersweet for me in hindsight. On one hand the team conflict in the first semester wore me down and we could have progressed faster with different individuals but on the other hand the hard skills I learned and the soft skills I had to practice dealing with those problems will certainly be of value for me in the future.

References

CBInsights (2019) The Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail. Available at: https://www.cbinsights.com/research/startup-failure-reasons-top/. (Accessed on: 25/04/2020).