Step 10: Bring on New People

Once we discovered we had no idea how to do half the things we wanted to do, we brought on some new people: Corwin, Geo, and Ryan. As an example of why we needed more people, Ryan wrote the initial version of Instructables and gave it much of the look and feel it still has today. Without him, it would have definitely never happened.

Perhaps notably absent from this list is a "business person." We interviewed and tried working with a few people whose job it was to license our technologies, fund raise, or do initial market research, but in the end, it never worked out. Right or wrong, most of the Squids saw these activities more akin to busywork than anything requiring real talent, and the results were near identical when we did it ourselves compared to when someone trained-in-the-art did it. While I will admit to learning some very valuable Microsoft Excel tricks from business-people, the Scientific Method applies to running a business, and, in my opinion, someone, who can identify measurable outputs, run experiments, analyze data, and rigorously synthesize it all into actionable items, is truly valuable with or without a business background.

With just the initial four founders, a Limited Liability Corporation appeared to be the easiest thing to start, so that's what we did. Our incorporation documents were largely drafted from books with titles like "How to Start an LLC." Ownership of the company and voting rights were determined on a time-based function. Initial ownership was equal across the four founding partners, and as new people were brought on, their ownership would be determined by their months worked at the company divided by the total months worked by everyone (effectively diluting the ownership of the founders). Ownership of a spin-off company or licensed technology would be determined at the time of the spin-off or licensing. The concept was to create a structure where "work done" would be rewarded rather than simply being first. We wanted to attract top talent in the future, and thought that the best way to do so would be to give the new people a shot at owning as much of the company as the founders, if they stuck around long enough and created enough cool stuff.

Bringing new people into an egalitarian partnership such as ours had its difficulties, which were compounded by our bizarre ownership structure. We tried, usually with success, to do everything by consensus. Everyone shared the same overall vision, but coming to agreement on the details proved time-consuming, and doing so among 7 people is exponentially more difficult than 4.

When I do it again, I still won't establish a "boss" and I'll still try to build consensus, but I would like to use a little more process to make decisions faster. We had established a process for making decisions (voting by percentage ownership), but we never actually used it. I think we could have made the same decisions, but arrived at them faster by using our process.
<p>This is such an inspiring story! I like step 15, in which you suggest attracting and going with other opportunities. Continual growth is vital. One thing I'd like to suggest is doing market research. Making sure there's a market for your business and then figuring out how to approach it can be so helpful and important. Best of luck to everyone in their future ventures!<br><br><a href="http://www.cfrinc.net" rel="nofollow">http://www.cfrinc.net </a></p>
<p>When a business a <br>started strategically, it runs smooth, its chances of success are high. Taking <br>prior guidance for starting a business is crucial for its success. I myself own <br>a small proprietorship. I had no time to attend regular college, therefore I attained <br>online business course from <a href="http://www.cob.ac/programmes/" rel="nofollow">http://www.cob.ac/programmes/</a> <br>. It helped me a great deal in understanding and gaining insights on how to <br>start and smoothly run a business.</p>
<p>Having prior knowledge related to the industry and the dynamics through which it operates are a mandatory feature through the help of which learning related to a business can easily be conducted and exercised. This can be extremely helpful if the person is well versed and has knowledge or a business management degree from an accredited university that can help them in initiating proper business in the long run. Here is one thing that can help you in doing it </p> <br> http://www.gulfhighered.com/business-school
<p>Eric; You heard it from other followers but you haven't heard it from me. </p><p>Thanks bro !!!!! For inspiring and sharing. Laura = ) </p>
hahaha.,.thank you great guys..I like your set up ..but my place is messy eer though, but i love it the way it is..use of all available space for that precious little useless part until you need them immediately like now..
Awesome story, Eric! Thanks for sharing!
What a great story. Thanks for sharing. Wish I read this 20 years ago...
Instructables is one of the best websites on the Internet... I hope it is around for 500 years. Wish I though of it.
I've wondered before, and still would like to know, <br>Who drew the Instructables Robot?
So far, really great read. I've been a huge fan of Instructables and the whole DIY movement for a few years. I don't have any kind of fancy degree, and some of the projects are way over my head, but I really like your point about if you want to succeed you need to find liek minded people. There is definitely a difference between &quot;founders&quot; and employees&quot;. <br> <br>I have been an &quot;employee&quot; my whole life, but I've always wanted to be part of something bigger, but you hit the nail on the head in &quot;why would anyone want to give me an important part in their new idea&quot; if I didn't have the initiative or the ability to do it myself. So last year, I bought some tools and started leather working, and actually have a pretty successful business at www.TheBrassWardrobe.com, and it feels SO much better to be a creator in this world, as opposed to a consumer. <br> <br>But sincE I am only part time, I am having a hard time moving forward and growing(which is not a big deal really..). All of my friends say I need to start hiring some employees to do the simple stuff, but I still feel that I am at the ground floor, and as you stated, I need to find &quot;founders&quot; if I'm going to be successful. Of course this makes me seem like an elitist perfectionist to my friends, but it was nice to see some confirmation on what I have been thinking. <br> <br>I'd like to post a 'Structable someday, unfortunately, most everything I've learned has been from here, so I don't think I have any wisdom to share that hasn't been covered...yet ;)
Fantastic story. Thank you very much for sharing it.
Can you please give me any hints as to start a business as I already have a webpage and an idea and a brand name and BTW, I'm only 13 ;)
i'm 15 and going to try to star my own rc car buisness. <br>what's your idea?
I was going to start an alarm company or a home automation company.BTW your idea sounds good :)
just need to find a good website to buy rc cars in bulk
inspiring story... thanks...<br>
Hi Eric, <br>This is a great story. Can't wait to meet you and Randy. <br>See you in february!<br><br>Sam
Thanks for your story Eric. My brother and I are <strike>talking about</strike> going to be starting a business sometime in the near future, and it's good to read someone else' experience.&nbsp; I'm sure our experience will be nothing like yours (it's going to be a restaurant of sorts), but it's helpful to read about someone who jumped into the pool and found out they could swim after all.<br>
Beautiful write up, thank you so much for posting it!<br><br>What you guys did with Squid Labs is what I always dreamt of doing and am finally trying to get off the ground.
&nbsp;Absolutely inspiring stuff. Thanks so much for sharing.&nbsp;&nbsp;
one of the best 'ibles i've read so far. <br /> <br /> there might not be a proven formula for success but this article lays down what is exactly needed and to watch out for when starting a business. <br /> <br /> thanks eric!<br />
Get a team to play that!
That would be a super conductive ring a half mile in diamerter with diode gates and towers&nbsp;to take incoming bolts cycle them around the ring and siphon off power as needed.
&nbsp;A very interesting and useful read. As &nbsp;someone coming from MIT myself, I always find it really refreshing when people admit that &quot;Well, the first contact we got really came from our insane connections at the Media Lab.&quot; The start-up community in general does the world a disservice in downplaying the importance of luck, an encouraging environment and meeting interesting and/or powerful people (in addition to,passion, enthusiasm, and all those other things you bring up, of course). I know it'll help me at least as I try to figure out how much of my talent is my environment and how much of it is my underlying personality (it's clear that you folks are blessed with both.)
Thank you for allowing the pubic to know how instructables was made.<br />
Updated of your &quot;Schematic for a balloon/kite based observation system designed for forest-firefighters.&quot; FYI The water hose would be massive so therefor remove it LOL Shooting stuff is just way cooler in the long run. LOL<br />
<style type="text/css"><![CDATA[p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0.0in; font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: Times New Roman; } div.Section1 { page: Section1; } ]]></style> <p class="MsoNormal">On a different note where did you start when looking for grant?</p>
<em>bolts of lightning to usable </em><em>energy easy I&nbsp;know how LOL. </em>
Nice Squid bus LOL<br />
From orange cars and head trauma, to collaborative brainstorming and direct worldly impact&hellip;What's not to like about this story?&nbsp; All you need is a catchy title for your book.&nbsp; Thanks for the reading suggestions too.<br />
sweet i wish i could be on the ibles team
Great story, 5 Stars. Do you think it's necessary to have studies before you start your company? I say before because I want to do my engineering studies after starting my business and, perhaps paying my studies with the money the company will bring in...
That's a tough call, and maybe something I should add to the Instructable. I personally know of several highly successful people that never finished college. I decided to do 9 years of college and graduate studies first because it was fun and was learning so much, and second because I wanted the benefits of being "vetted by society."
I think it really depends on what your company will do. I have a bachelors in Entrepreneurship (BA) and have been a senior in Mechanical Engineering for 3 years now. I've taught CATIA V5 for 3 years now and do CNC Programming as a career though I recently started a product concept development firm that provides Manufacturing and Design Support. I can do this because of my experience and my studies, though not complete, have given me a much better understanding of the real-world engineering requirements beyond a simple let's draw this widget and make mindset. My CNC Programming has developed mostly from experience and personal desire to learn, so I can do it without any formal education but without my existing proof of concept designs I have nothing to go on to validate my knowledge in design. I was surprised to hear that Tim started ZCorp. I used to run the 3D Prototyping Lab at the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University. We had a ZCorp 406 printer. Eric we need to stay in touch more... My personal email is brianjherr@yahoo.com.
Well I have plenty of time to think about it, maybe I'll do both at the same time, who knows.
I read this and I have Started My Business it is a Site Developed to Getting kids into electronics etc Making gadgets and Ideas for inventors Etc WIll post a link when domain is sorted
It hasnt been made yet still writing Scripts etc
ok please tell me when its finished
I will try i have alot to do at the mo Lol
i started a website a couple of weeks ago its all about ghosts<br/><br/>the link is <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.matandchloe.webs.com">http://www.matandchloe.webs.com</a> <br/>
How do you pronounce "MITERS"?
Well, what can anyone say? Thanks for the Sweat and Broken Bones! ...Oh, and for the fish. (book reference) We got plenty of help now!
Hats Off to Squids ! :)
Great tutorial! This overview definitely helped in my won experience. Recently I started my own business manufacturing various electronic kits and distributing them to science companies. I just received my first check and hopefully I can expand as I have the time!
Is that <em>really</em> what Instructables used to look like? Wow. IT CHANGED! I just can't believe how much it has changed.<br/>
Yeah, some dramatic difference...
Awesome!<br/>Probably one of the best -ibles on the site, what would be cool, is if you put this as the 'Forward' or something in the first few pages of the book. Just as inspiration.<br/><br/><sub>I would love to work in cubicles!</sub><br/>
You're nuts...

About This Instructable




Bio: Eric J. Wilhelm is the founder of Instructables. He has a Ph.D. from MIT in Mechanical Engineering. Eric believes in making technology accessible through ... More »
More by ewilhelm:LEGO table with integrated parts bin Custom Wooden Train Track X-crossing Mad Max and War Boy Nux father son costume 
Add instructable to: