The Science of People and its Relevance to Startup Founders

Nubia Capital

We are committed to investing in tech-enabled startups across Africa and helping founders grow extraordinary businesses.

Published Feb 10, 2024

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Building a startup can be challenging but what can be more challenging is raising funds, especially at such an early stage. This can present itself as a rather difficult task because of the apparent lack of knowledge on the path of founders. This knowledge is a knowing of what investors want and how the founders can fit into that box. 

Investors typically check for two things in a deck: traction and Team. For early-stage startups, they have little to no traction. If you go to an investor and ask for $200K to accelerate your startup, traction is the derisk element. For startups, they don’t have much traction so they are only left with the team as a form of derisk. With a superstar team, you will not only attract funding and build a startup that solves a problem but also generate revenue. Founders get this wrong and look for co-founders and team players in their immediate network, a friend or family. It is more than that. This is one of the most intentional aspects of building a startup. It is the science of people, finding a team that works, can work and will work. 

Finding a team 

As cliche as it sounds, nobody is attracted to any founder building alone, especially not investors. You must find and keep a solid team. Your team can comprise people from Google(ex), Ex-Goldman Sachs or a board member who has advised unicorns. Those kinds of experiences speak volumes in terms of strength, capacity and knowledge. Now, if you cannot find those recognisable names for your team, find a group of people who are resilient to the core, and who will go out to get certifications and knowledge. A co-founder who deals with finance must show his expertise in that field. If she/he does not have the opportunity to work in great financial companies, then he/she must fill in through self-teaching. 

Finding a team is also about communication and how you can convince them to stay and build with you. This is also called Charisma. How can you find the right people, and invite them to dedicate time, energy and resources to your idea at such an early stage? Communication and Charisma. Many times, it is about how great you see the vision in your mind’s eye, and how you can execute the vision and pull in people. Until there’s traction, the source of energy on your team is you. 

Here’s what founders must never get wrong. You don’t need to know the how, you can learn that along the way by testing and failing. What you need is a strong emotional connection to the vision, pull in people with that same emotional connection and the goals you want to achieve. The “how” will be figured out by you and the people you employ. What matters more is your ability to micro-test it. 

Keeping a team 

Now, you have members on your team, how can you keep them? Need identification. 

The job of a Founder is mostly about doing the best for his people and creating a safe environment for them to meet the company goals. 

This is the science of people. It is giving a promotion to whom a promotion is due, it is giving incentives to the best workers, it is identifying when the energy is down and finding ways to lift it up again, it is essentially asking “what does this people need”? 

As a founder, you will not be the best in the world at copywriting, engineering, or product. Your job is about managing the people who are. 

Understanding people

After your first 12 months of building and getting your initial product out, you will start to manage people a lot. Not just employees but customers and investors. Your knowledge of people science helps you manage what each group of people are looking for and how you can meet them at their exact point of need. People science also allows you to grow these people into partners.


Today, you should reflect on how you have managed people in the past and what strategies you want to employ to manage people in the future. This single approach will skyrocket the growth of your company. 

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