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Why disrupting an industry takes a team

Monday, 9 March 2015 | By Riad Chikhani

This is the first article in a series that throws the spotlight on startups working in Sydney co-working space Fishburners.


Since founding my startup GAMURS last year in September, then subsequently entering the Slingshot Accelerator program in December I’ve learnt many valuable lessons. Learning is part of the daily process when trying to build a useful, revenue generating, and industry-disrupting company. Perhaps most important is the need to successfully build and manage a team.


Without a dedicated team we wouldn’t be able to build GAMURS, a social network helping passionate gamers share their content and meet likeminded players. Attempting to disrupt an industry with 1.2 billion consumers is a tough ask. Attempting to disrupt the gaming industry while half way around the world? Even tougher.


The Australian gaming community is far behind those of the USA, Europe and especially, Asian markets. Early on, it was clear that if GAMURS was to be of any relevance to the opinionated gaming community, our team needed to be both skilled and passionate.


Many entrepreneurs build their product first, and if necessary, expand their team. We were the opposite. Gamers are different in every way possible. Location, careers, expectations, drivers, you name it. To build a service from the ground up to provide for this community requires complex software that is both scalable and flexible. It was my responsibility early on to ensure that the team developing GAMURS knew their roles and expectations. Without any of this focus on our core founding team, I’d be a lone founder with no team, no help and no product.


Forming a capable team isn’t something that’s done once and forgotten. It’s a task that requires consistent monitoring, regular development and, at times, reshaping. The backbone of your company ensures significant improvements to every aspect of operations. “You’re only as weak as your weakest link” is something that resonates with me on a daily basis. If the team that’s attempting to do phenomenal things isn’t driven or capable, how will we be the ones to build this product? It is our role as founders to keep this structure as powerful as possible.


I would love to claim I’ve learnt the best way to build a team. Wouldn’t all startup founders? The reality is few can make that statement with confidence. Your recruitment process can be as rigorous as possible but mistakes can be made. The lesson I actually learnt from starting GAMURS is that your team is the most important piece of the complex startup puzzle. Running a startup provides you with experience in how to best nurture your team and how to keep them motivated in times of extreme uncertainty.


Fostering employee loyalty is something I believe is underestimated by many founders. The reality of the situation is, at such an early stage, your company is nothing but an easily replicated idea and a team. Your team is everything. So ensure you have a strict focus on developing each individual employee and providing them with a creative environment so when the time comes, you can rely on them to stick through the toughest times.


Riad Chikhani is founder and CEO of GAMURS.

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