I blog about start up teams quite frequently --- and poking through our logs, the posts about building start up teams are among the most searched for. The reason we talk about it is that there is nothing more important to success of a start up than having the right team. Michael Cerda at Jangl had an interesting post the other day on the topic. Dick Costolo at Feedburner hits it on the head.
Dick talks about a "hire fast, fire fast" approach and this great quote:
"The hire fast, fire fast approach basically can be boiled down to 'it's really almost impossible to understand whether a person is going to be a killer A+ match before they start working with you day to day, so best to find somebody that seems close enough, and then remove them quickly if they don't work out.'"
This is so true. Until you're in the start up trenches with someone, you don't know if they're for real or are just puffing. While you certainly want to avoid bad hires, it is absolutely essential that you also give yourself an out in case someone isn't working out.
What makes it harder is that the traditional metrics one uses in hiring for a big company don't apply when you're building a team for a start up. In fact, success in big companies (where office politics have set in) may be a contra-indicator for start up suitability.
Joe Kraus also has some great thoughts on hiring.