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The team building philosophy behind a successful company

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Depop CEO Runar Reistrup speaks to Hot Topics about his team building philosophy and how he helped grow Depop into an international business.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and a team is only as strong as its weakest member.

The weak link can be the difference between a business succeeding and failing, so it’s no surprise that CEOs spend so much time building their teams.

Back in 2011, Mark Zuckerberg spoke at a conference about the amount of praise that CEOs of successful companies receive. He explained his team building philosophy:

“One of those things that the media just constantly gets wrong is this idea that it’s a person. It’s never a person. It’s always a team.

“The most important thing for you as an entrepreneur trying to build something is, you need to build a really good team. And that’s what I spend all my time on.

“I spend probably 25 per cent of my time recruiting, finding good people, both outside the company and inside the company, to put them in more impactful roles.”

At the end of the day, a great idea can’t become a reality without the right people to implement it.

While most businesses won’t be getting valued anywhere near a quarter of a trillion dollars any time soon, the team building philosophy that Zuckerberg uses while managing his company can be applied to pretty much every startup and aspiring entrepreneur.

At Depop, a social shopping app that looks like a cross between Instagram and Ebay, CEO Runar Reistrup employs the same team building philosophy as Zuckerberg.

He speaks to Hot Topics about how he helped developed the team at Depop, which has got 2.5 million downloads and secured around $11 million in investment.

Depop began, as you might expect for a tech startup, with a small team of engineers.

“I think that’s a very good way to start something like this, because in the end, you need to get the product right, you need to build something that’s really nice, easy, simple to use.”

“That little team of people had done that. They’d polished it and worked on it and made it better and better for a whole year.”

Once a solid foundation of tech had been laid down, “You need to hire people with specialized knowledge in many different things”.

Right now Depop is still looking for the type of people that can help it grow rather than the sort of people who fit into a conventional job role.

Reistrup continues: “I always say that if people are looking for a job we have none. We’re looking for people who want to be a co-founder of a company. We’re still only 50 people, so if you join now, you join a group of people that all feel like they’ve founded Depop.”

Reistrup says that the sort of people that a young business needs are the people who interested in doing things a different way.

“It’s the people who are curious, I find that that’s a super important aspect to have in one’s personality, because if you’re curious, you want to know what’s next.”

Reistrup admits that getting the right people together at the right time has been one of Depop’s biggest challenges so far in it’s short existence.

“I think the biggest challenge for us and companies like us is always how do you assemble the right kind of people at the right time.”

“Sometimes we’ve been waiting too long for the right kind of people, not because they weren’t there, because we found them in the end, but we didn’t really want to compromise on who we hired.”

Conversely, one of Depop’s biggest successes has been their ability to grow internationally by hiring the right people abroad.

That was one of the easier things says Reistrup. “In Italy we’ve employed Italians, in the UK it’s our head office so we’ve employed a very international crowd, and in New York where we lead our US operations from, we’re hired people who are based out of there.”

It’s a simple but effective approach, and Reistrup credits it for making their international growth so smooth. He adds: “I think if we went over there and the team that launched it in London tried to launch it in New York we would have found some challenges.”

Reistrup’s team building philosophy has helped Depop create a niche for itself in between online auctions and social networks.