How to assemble the perfect team

by Jun Loayza on September 9, 2009

Some of my awesome readers recently asked me how I was able to assemble the Future Delivery team.  First off, I must give the credit to Yu-kai Chou because he’s amazing at team building.  Secondly, it has nothing to do with funding.

Instead of giving you general advice, I thought I would tell you specifically how we recruited each member of the Future Delivery team.  In this way, you will be able to follow in our footsteps and possibly create a startup dream team of your own.

1. Yu-kai Chou

Future Delivery starts with Yu-kai Chou.

Yu-kai and I met as pledge brothers from the International Fraternity of Delta Sigma Pi.  I knew him as the Taiwanese fobby dude that had started his own companies.  Out of all of my friends from UCLA, I thought that Yu-kai was the most likely to be successful.

Lesson Learned: Yu-kai built an amazing personal brand as an undergrad.  Everyone knew him as the young entrepreneur who was constantly reading business books and that would go out of his way to help you out.  If you want people to work for your company, then you need to demonstrate that joining forces with you will lead them on the path to success.

Yu-kai Chou is the anchor, and his professionalism and impressive demeanor are what caused the first team members of Future Delivery to join.

2. Chief Marketing Officer

As an undergrad, I was motivated and ready to go into the corporate world.  I probably would have fully committed to the corporate world had it not been for a traumatizing recruiting season the Fall of my fourth year.  It was then that I realized that I needed to do something more with my life than simply get good grades in school.  Since I thought Yu-kai Chou was destined to be the most successful out of everyone in my network, I decided to hang out with him and hopefully have his professionalism rub off on me.

[showmyads]

I was determined to work with Yu-kai, so I decided to prove myself by reading business books and doing research for him – keep in mind, I can be a very arrogant person and Yu-kai is one year younger than me.  This shows the impressive personal brand that Yu-kai had established.

In my head I thought, “If I prove myself to Yu-kai and build a company with him, there’s no way that I can lose!  I just need to prove to him that I deserve to be on his team.”  I therefore decided to start Bruin Consulting at UCLA to demonstrate my entrepreneurial ability.

Lesson Learned: Your network is more powerful than you realize. Find that impressive person in your network that you can learn from and hang out with him or her.

My Father once told me:

“Tell me who you hang out with, and I’ll tell you who you are”

Hang out with successful people and you will be successful.

3. Chief Technology Officer

We tried absolutely everything possible in our search for a lead developer: job boards; career fairs; I even walked into engineering classrooms and tried to talk students into joining Future Delivery.  Only one effort actually provided a substantial ROI on our efforts and introduced us to our current CTO.

I met the Head of the Engineering Department at a UCLA startup event.  We hit it off, so she offered to send her computer science students a job description for our position.

We interviewed a bunch of students and gave internship offers to 3 students.  One of the last people who reached out to us was the person who is our current CTO.  There was a schedule misunderstanding and I didn’t show up on the day that we scheduled our interview.  For a second I was tempted to skip this interview since we had already recruited 3 developers.  Man am I glad we didn’t skip it!

Lesson Learned: Use ALL of the resources available to you.  Don’t just use Twitter or Monster to look for people to recruit; try college campuses, department heads, counselors, and everything else out there.

Secondly, never pass up an opportunity.  Attend every event and interview every qualified person; you never know who you might meet.

4. Marketing Director

During the Summer of 2008, I needed to build a marketing team to market our product.  Since we needed to conserve cash flow, I decided to create a marketing internship program where I would teach undergrads about business and marketing, and in turn, they would help us market FD Career on their college campus.  It was one of the best things I’ve ever developed, and I have established life long friendships with many of the students.  The undergrad that stood out the most from the internship was Joseph Yi.  We ultimately gave him a full-time offer which he accepted.

Lesson Learned: Undergraduates are looking for something more than money; they’re looking for education and a stepping stone to advance them in their career.  I put in the time and effort to create this experience, and that’s why they put in their time and effort into Future Delivery.

5. Director of Company Relations

Yu-kai Chou met our Director of Company Relations at an event up in Northern California.  She was very interested in learning how to become an entrepreneur, so Yu-kai gave her some business books to read and podcasts to listen to.  I believe that in addition to helping her become an entrepreneur, Yu-kai was testing her to see if she would have what it takes to join our team.

Being the skeptical guy that I am, I told Yu-kai, “Dude, you expect too much of people.  I don’t think she’ll read or listen to those podcasts.”  Ironically, I had already forgotten that just 1 year ago, I was the one reading books that Yu-kai had recommended to me.

Well, it turns out that she not only read all of the books and listened to all of the podcasts, but she began to help Yu-kai find the best investor meetups.  After that, we welcomed her with open arms into our team and were happy to have a girl in the Future Delivery family.

Lesson Learned: If you have developed a high-quality personal brand that is open, friendly, and helpful, then people will want to associate with you so that they can learn from you.  Furthermore, you really need to take every opportunity that comes to you and help everyone that asks for help.  If you put in the time and effort for them, then they will put in the time and effort for you.

6. Lead Developer/Designer

Yu-kai and I met our Lead Developer/Designer through our personal blogs and Twitter profiles.  He left many thoughtful comments on our blog posts, so Yu-kai decided to reach out to him via Twitter and build a friendly relationship with him.  From their conversations, Yu-kai realized that he knew how to program, so Yu-kai casually asked him if he wanted to join the team.

Lesson Learned: Don’t be shy to ask your social media contacts to join your startup.  You don’t need to be in close proximity to work together; the entire Future Delivery team works virtually and meets up once a week via Skype.  Ask someone you trust to help out and see where it takes you.

Now that you know how we did it, go out there and build a strong team for yourself!!!

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  • http://manvsdebt.com/ Baker

    It’s really cool to see a first-hand glimpse into how you put together your team. The overriding message I get from this is to keep your eyes wide open. Always be on the lookout for talent and chemistry. It seems you’ve gained a ton of value in your company from being open to acquiring people through different mediums.

    This whole time, I just assumed you found Yu-kai on the street somewhere and were doing him a favor. Who knew he was so valuable? ;-)

    • http://Viralogy.com Jun Loayza

      Hahahaha… I know right! Good’ol Yu-kai just lurks in the shadows and is the mastermind behind all this :P

      • http://yukaichou.com Yu-kai Chou

        Hahaha, I don’t know what to say to Adam regarding I was found on the street… :P Isn’t that what parents tell their kids when they were little (except it’s usually garbage can).

        But yea, always keep your eyes open. See the potential in people and help them become as powerful as they can. Then you’ll have powerful allies :)

      • http://www.thebigdreamer.com Mark Foo | TheBigDreamer.com

        Hey Yu-Kai… Did your parents tell you they picked you up in a garbage can? My parents told me exactly the same thing when I was a kid! Ha ha… I didn’t know all parents are similar in that sense… :)

        Cheers~

        Mark

  • http://www.owlsparks.com/ Carlos Miceli

    I’m with Adam here, this is a great glimpse of what it must be like to build a successful team. I’ll be sure to remember all these tips for when I’m building a team!

    PS: That Yu-Kai sure is impressive!

    • http://Viralogy.com Jun Loayza

      Yu-kai better thank me for talking him up so much!

      • http://yukaichou.com Yu-kai Chou

        Haha, thank you Carlos for giving me “That Yu-kai” status :)

        And many thanks to Jun for the amazing post. In reality, Jun is much more impressive than me. And he’s better looking. At least I’m no longer referred to as the Panda :P

  • Kevin Ho

    your father’s quote is so very true!

    great post

    • http://yukaichou.com Yu-kai Chou

      Jun hangs out with girls. Does that make him a girl?

  • http://www.rockstarlifestyledesign.com Greg Rollett

    It’s so interesting how we stumble onto friends, partners, associates, etc over our lifetime. For me its always been the accidental partners that have made it the longest and have been the strongest. When I have forced or sought out partners it has been more difficult in the long term.

    I love how you found your team both organically and strategically, with interns and interviews, coupled with real life occurrences. You have a great team at Virology and should be proud of everything you have accomplished so far.

  • Anonymous

    I hope you know that unpaid internees who do material work for your company are illegal. Here’s Mark Cuban’s blog about it:

    http://blogmaverick.com/2009/09/05/want-an-unpaid-internship-so-you-can-get-valuable-experience-screw-you/

  • http://brentongieser.com Brenton Gieser

    It’s great to see such a strong team assembled in such a natural way. I have chatted back in forth with a few of you and I must say you are some of the most engaging bunch of young entrepreneurs out there.

    I think team building can be one of the most challenging things when it comes to entrepreneurship: to assemble, maintain and lead…I like what you’re doin Jun!

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  • http://www.Escapingthe9to5.com Maren Kate

    Great post! Definitely will help me while I organize my team… that is probably the hardest thing for me… :)

    cHEERS

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  • http://analyticasystemsinc.com/blog/ John R. Sedivy

    Jun – This is great article on team building! It captures the essence and importance of building a high quality team organically. I especially liked your early statement of the process not having to do with funding. That is a major misconception – most believe that to start something or to attract a high quality team you need a lot of money – simply not true! The act of simply doing something interesting will attract like-minded individuals as you know.

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  • H3llios

    Nobody has asked you about the recommended books from Yu-kai . Can you please post the recommencded books list, podcasts :) Thank you + Nice story

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