The three in­gre­di­ents to build a great start-up team


Dtac Ac­cel­er­ate gave me the great op­por­tu­nity to join the Black­box pro­gram in Sil­i­con Val­ley. I learned a lot from class­mates, men­tors, founders and in­vestors there. I think the ecosys­tem in Sil­i­con Val­ley and Thai­land is quite dif­fer­ent in terms of in­vest­ment, mar­kets, cul­ture and pol­icy. In Sil­i­con Val­ley, the pol­icy and cul­ture fully sup­port start-ups even though in­vest­ment has turned south, hav­ing peaked in 2015.

Thai start-ups need to look re­gion-wide rather than fo­cus on one coun­try.

The South­east Asia re­gion is per­ceived as an emerg­ing mar­ket with high growth po­ten­tial – this has re­sulted in sig­nif­i­cant in­creases in in­vest­ment, while pol­icy and cul­ture lag way be­hind.

As I ex­changed ideas with many suc­cess­ful founders in my Sil­i­con Val­ley trip, I found some­thing com­mon to their suc­cess – a great team builds a great com­pany.

Be­fore this, I had ques­tioned what makes a great team and how to build one. I now un­der­stand the idea and find it in­ter­est­ing. It is a link be­tween the BHAG (big hairy au­da­cious goal), strat­egy and cul­ture.

Firstly, BHAG is the sum­mit of the peak you are climb­ing. It is a sin­gle long-term goal which is au­da­cious and likely to be ex­ter­nally ques­tion­able, but not in­ter­nally re­garded as im­pos­si­ble. For ex­am­ple, the SpaceX BHAG is “to revo­lu­tionise space tech­nol­ogy, with the ul­ti­mate goal of en­abling peo­ple to live on other plan­ets”.

Sec­ondly, strat­egy is how to win, per­haps best thought of as the stag­ing posts that get you to the moun­tain sum­mit.

Fi­nally, cul­ture is how to be­have if you want to win.

As a founder, co-founder or en­tre­pre­neur, you pic­ture your sum­mit and your stag­ing posts. How­ever, the most im­por­tant part is the way to reach each post – it’s all about ex­e­cu­tion. As we know, it is peo­ple who ex­e­cute the strate­gies – and this is why cul­ture is so im­por­tant.

In our class, Alex said: “Cul­ture is a so­cial con­trol”, a pat­tern of be­hav­iour that is en­cour­aged or dis­cour­aged over time by peo­ple or a sys­tem. I truly agree.

I was asked, “What be­hav­iours do you need in your star­tups to re­in­force your key suc­cess fac­tors and de­liver on your strat­egy?” It was so clear to me how to set the cul­ture. I started to write down the sum­mit, stag­ing posts and key fac­tors for my own project, Freshket – the spe­cific tasks to com­plete the strat­egy. Then I listed the be­hav­iours I needed.

The thing to re­mem­ber is this: you, as a leader, are a gi­nor­mous sig­nal gen­er­a­tor and you need to be aware of what sig­nals you are broad­cast­ing to your team. Are you con­sis­tent with the be­hav­iours that you need? I now ap­ply this con­cept to Freshket and it gets me ex­cited to see the team evolve. I be­lieve that it will build a great com­pany.

Ponglada Paniangwet is CEO and co-founder Freshket, dtac ac­cel­er­ate batch 4. With thanks to Alex Tauber, Black­box’s speaker.

Ponglada Paniangwet

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