Does a startup’s success depend more on the idea or the team?

2.4k views1 Upvote31 Comments

Vice President Strategy ( Engineering and Digital) in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
There are numerous books and articles on why startups fail. The failure rate is approximately 95%, and I have discovered that the most significant cause is not having the right team or being led by the wrong people. When this occurs, not everyone on the team is motivated by the same vision. If the idea is incorrect because you failed to understand the market, or had cash flow issues, etc., we can correct it with the help of the right team members. But it won't be easy to sustain the startup in the long run if the team is not correct. It is the team that ensures the mission's success.

Every startup’s team needs to possess three key qualities:

1. Passion: If they're passionate about working in this startup, things will become easier.

2. Commitment: If they are not committed, then their passion will not have an impact. Anybody can say they’re passionate, but the commitment has to be there as well.

3. Adaptability: When people join a startup organization after working in an enterprise, they may not be able to adapt to the culture.

For example, Infosys is now a billion dollar company, and among the top five Indian IT companies. It was started way back in 1981 by four or five passionate people. They’d been working in some IT company at the time, but they were all inspired by the same vision. They were passionate, committed and they were adaptable. That's how they built such a successful company. So the most important factor is the people, not the idea. People think of ideas all the time. If the team has these qualities, they'll think of many ideas to draw many investors.
CEO in Services (non-Government), Self-employed
Both are important but my answer is neither. The words timing is everything is never truer than in startups. 
2 3 Replies
Vice President Strategy ( Engineering and Digital) in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

Thanks for your comment, Joanne. Timing is never right or wrong depends on us to make the time right.

Solution Architect in Energy and Utilities, 2 - 10 employees

I can't agree more,   ; I think Orkut is a good example, the social community that was created when people barely had internet access, compared to Facebook or other social platforms that were created in digital era. 

One key factor in startup failure is persistence and lack of purpose. I saw many startups who are planning their exit strategy before their business plan, successful businesses are in in the game for the long run, and have a strong purpose that drives their strategy.

I remember the last scene of movie the Founder, when Dave McDonald asked Ray Kroc, how did you do it, he said one thing " Persistence ". 

CEO in Services (non-Government), Self-employed

That's exactly it. Persistence which today is often called pivoting is still valid. But foresight is key because to often what is deemed a great product market fit is outdated long before the next iteration of MVP is released. True you can't always be on target with the exact direction consumer or business winds will blow but you can see how a market can unfold.

CTO in Transportation, 11 - 50 employees
The team is probably the most important thing. It has to be a good team, not only regarding capabilities but in their ability to work together and complement each other. 
The ides is also important but as stated below, a good team will understand how to measure if the idea or the approach is the right one early on and correct or pivot accordingly.
But even with the right idea and the right team there is a lot to be said about time to market and a bit of luck never hurt.
IT Executive in Healthcare and Biotech, 10,001+ employees
There are thousands of great ideas that never make it to market, or even get to be a viable offering. The post/comment below is spot on, and it's more than the team. 
Director of IT in Transportation, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
Team since they execute all elements to bring it into being.
Secure Facilities Information Technology Manager in Manufacturing, Self-employed
I think the idea would have to be the leading factor towards startup success. The idea has to be the primary ignitor that leads to a great team, which can then lead to success. 
Sr. Director, Head of Global MCM IT in Manufacturing, 10,001+ employees
Both... you can't take an idea alone as you always need support of your team to help you implement your idea and make it reality.
Director of IT in Miscellaneous, 51 - 200 employees
There are many capable leaders here. This starts with the ideation stage - it is not always "Do Different Things" but "Do Things differently". From that point the journey commences - in addition to the capability etc - the one skill required is resilience and the ability to do course correction midway. I have seen many startups fail in this venture due to their rigidness. At the end of the day it is a business and a tough ride sometime. Need to plod on. We can go on discussing - on this journey.
IT Strategist in Government, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Team is far more important than the original idea. At the end, it is the team which comes up and implements the idea. Idea can not leave without the team behind it.
Founder and CTO in Software, 51 - 200 employees
IMO it is both. The idea is what starts things and is incredibly important to keep the team motivated to work on it to make it a success. With that, it is the team as well that actually leads to the right ideation, implementation and then all the next steps to actually take the idea into something of real value.

However as someone rightly said in the comments, it is also not just the two of these that lead to success, there are other factors as well like the timing, the market situation and readiness, the competition, etc.

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