Building a team with the right mix of experience and youth

For Simon Hill, founder of idea management business Wazoku, finding the right balance between experience and youth when building his team has given the business the perfect platform to flourish and grow.

Whilst I had a background in start-ups from my time at Huddle, when I launched my idea management firm Wazoku in 2011 it was the first time I had started a business of my own.

Because of this, I was determined to surround myself with people that had worked in start-ups previously. The right skill set goes without saying, but I was adamant that I also needed people who knew the peculiarities of start-up life, wouldn’t be fazed by the long hours and would have the wherewithal and experience to help me shape and guide the business.

So the launch team was made up of people on their second and third start-ups and initially this was very much the right decision.

We launched to great fanfare, refined our product and won some impressive customers in our first few months. But when you have worked in a similar role previously, it is easy to get used to doing things in a certain way, depending on what has worked for you in the past. This meant that when we came to our next hires, I made the decision to target younger employees, perhaps new to start-ups and certainly only on their second or third jobs.

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I wanted a fresh injection of enthusiasm, energy, creativity to complement the seasoned hands that we already had within the team. Once we had our next two recruits on board, we noticed the difference almost immediately. Both had energy to burn and were full of interesting ideas and new ways of approaching tasks.

This enthusiasm manifested itself in both our product roadmap and sales efforts. We had started out very much as an idea management firm, but input from the newer recruits led to us utilising our technology in different ways, such as consultations in the public sector and a competition mechanism used by events. These are now both a core part of our product suite.

Wazoku has since gone from strength-to-strength, winning business with publisher Faber & Faber, Diagio and the Metropolitan Police amongst others, developing the product even further and completing a £500,000 seed round of funding in early 2013.

I firmly believe that our success has been based partly on the make-up of our team, containing the right mix of experience and youth. An added bonus is that this mix plays well with investors, but most importantly it has driven the business forward. We have the experience and steadying pair of hands where required, which used in conjunction with a youthful team full of energy and ideas, makes a potent combination for any early stage business.

Hunter Ruthven

Bernard Williamson

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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