Does startup success rely on the founders?

It’s a well-worn misnomer that a startup’s success comes down to one or two passionate and driven founders.

The reality is far away from this, with any company that has expanded beyond a garage relying heavily on its whole team, not just its public figureheads.

While founders often get all the plaudits for landing a big partnership or securing a whopping funding round, it’s the startup’s wider team of employees that keep things running and ensure the day-to-day success of the company.

With 95 per cent of startups failing, these unsung heroes of the tech world are crucial, and deserve to be better recognised. From the silent partner to the data expert, and everyone in between, these employees deserve some of the recognition that is usually reserved for the founders.

Melbourne-based startup success story Envato is widely regarded as one of the best tech companies to work at in Australia. And it’s one of the startups that properly recognises how important every single employee is, with Envato recently announcing that it would be passing on some of its large profits with its team of 300 employees in Melbourne.

For more than 20 years, MYOB has helped startups succeed.

Customer success manager Briany Kalms is one of the unsung heroes of Envato, managing the frontline support team answering enquiries from customers and driving a better customer experience for the booming company.

A key part of Envato’s success is its focus on supporting and nurturing its whole team.

“We’re encouraged to develop a higher sense of independence, to find our own ways to contribute to team and company-wide success,” Kalms says.

“It drives a greater sense of ownership and achievement, in sharing and delivering on goals. Each and every person brings their own unique skills, experience and insights in order to make Envato a success. Community is at the heart of everything Envato does.”

There’s nowhere else that this teamwork is as important as at a hackathon. Small groups of dedicated individuals, often meeting each other for the first time, work tirelessly across a weekend to come up with an innovative new idea. If there isn’t good teamwork, there won’t be anything to show.

At this year’s GovHack events around the country, outstanding team members were given the spotlight they deserve.

In Melbourne, Rachel Bucknall was awarded the Spirit of GovHack award. Specialising in experience design, Bucknall often offered to help out other teams, and went out of her way to make sure the event was a success.

She says that being surrounded by a good team is “vital” to running a successful company.

“Even if you’re a sole founder, you need some form of team around you, such as personal support from your network and expertise from mentors,” Bucknall says.

“Teams support big ideas, they create the fertile space that allows startups to explore the unknown. Great team members provide diverse perspectives which strengthen solutions. Working together shares the load and counters burn out.”

Trent Jones was awarded the Spirit of GovHack award in Rockhampton for his work with multiple teams on technical aspects of their solution.

“In the fast-changing IT industry you are required to work in an agile format, delivering a product on schedule while also working on continuous improvement,” Jones says.

“In order to do this you need team members who can work well as a team and have good communication skills. These are especially critical to startups due to the increased risk of a new business.”

These unsung heroes of the startup world often provide the foundation for startup success and can be the driving force for innovative change.

“I think it’s important to acknowledge that you can’t complete a puzzle without all the pieces, and in a startup world there is definitely a big puzzle with lots of pieces,” Kalms says.


Smiling Mind and MYOB

This article is brought to you by the MYOB and Smiling Mind Small Business Program. With mindfulness meditations for navigating stress, building resilience and finding balance, it’s here to help business owners thrive. So, let’s make mental health everyone’s business. Try the free Small Business Program under the ‘At Work’ section in the Smiling Mind app today.

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