Recap: Building a Great Team & Startup Culture

On November 23, 2016 the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship hosted the event, Building a Great Team & Startup Culture. We brought in two fantastic speakers to stress the importance on this factor in encouraging entrepreneurial success. We ended with a stimulating workshop and a short speed dating session for everyone to mingle and network.

Mo Akif (left) and Rita Tehini (right)
Mo Akif (left) and Rita Tehini (right) from the McGill Dobson Student Executive Team (SET)

Our first speaker focused on the more theoretical aspects of team building. Professor Lisa Cohen, an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at McGill discussed many aspects of team building and best hiring practices. A point of hers that hit home for much of the audience was this understanding that an increasing number of VCs are focused on investing in the team rather than on the product.

Lisa Cohen, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University
Lisa Cohen, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University

This trend may seem ironic and a little far-fetched at first, but without the appropriate team, the idea/product can’t progress forward in an effective manner. In our world of startups where venture capital is scarce and competitively sought after, teams need to be effective to convince VCs and Angel Investors alike that their money will be used by the right team.

Our next speaker presented a more practical approach to team building. Antoine Delmas, Director of Sales and Marketing at OOHLALA, told his story on how the startup defined its culture in order to foster practical team building. If the right culture is set in place, people have a better understanding of the roles they need to fulfill to succeed in their startup.

Specifically, Antoine stressed the importance of aligning this defined culture with the mission and values of the organization. At OOHLALA, they made everyone’s results transparent and public so that everybody could see how their peers were doing. However, this initiative was conducted in a fun manner so that peers who performed either higher or lower weren’t met with jealousy or embarrassment respectively.

As much as this tactic seems like common sense, lack of appraisal is very common when it should be more recognized, so OOHLALA strives to appraise good results in making these gestures public. It’s a simple gesture that tends to have incredible value since we are very social beings.

Conversely, OOHLALA also stresses the importance of not shying away from calling out bad behavior. It’s nice to have a positive organization, but that must entail dealing with negative aspects in order progress employees’ value at the company. In my opinion, for any employee, having a growth mindset will allow you be proactive about these tougher moments.

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Building a Great Team & Startup Culture hosted by the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship on November 23, 2016

Calvin Wren

Calvin is the Editor-in-Chief for The Dobson Chronicles. He’s in U3, finishing a triple concentration in Finance, Information Systems, and Strategic Management. Calvin founded Citybuddy, a travel service for women wishing to travel alone and in security. He also feeds his own music blog and is fascinated by e-commerce.