I (Rajat) made every mistake in the book when it came to building a founding team for my first company, NetGenesis. I started with five other co-founders. Yup, you read that right. There were six of us. That was a huge problem by itself, but it was compounded by the fact that none of us had started a company before.
I struggled with how to split up equity (who gets what percentage ownership of the company), get clarity on roles and responsibilities, and ultimately make decisions. Realistically, there wasn't any difference between us in a lot of ways. After all, none of us even had any formal work experience. Every member of the founding team was a smart, motivated individual, so we all had valuable contributions. As a peer, how could I tell people what they could and couldn't do?
I didn't understand what it meant to be a founder or a CEO. Primarily, I didn't do a good job on the critical task of building a team. It's important for a founding team to be aligned both personally and professionally. It takes tremendous leadership from the CEO to accomplish that, and in this case, I wasn't able to get everybody on the same page.
With all of us being equal and peers in my mind, I needed consensus to make decisions, which across six smart, opinionated founders, was difficult to come by. This impacted us on things like product strategy, hiring, and even from whom to raise money. In short, we all had differing opinions for just about everything, ...