When Building Teams, Focus on Accountability First

In 2016, one of the biggest decisions in our company was the departure of my cofounder and product head, Chase White. Chase and I started Localeur nearly four years before after leaving our jobs at Bazaarvoice. Unlike some horror stories you hear from startup founders, our founder relationship was always built on honesty, openness, and mutual respect. So, after careful discussion between Chase and myself about where we were with the business, I didn’t hesitate to push forward in making his amicable departure possible, despite some reticence from my board about the potential negative signals a founder breakup may create.

Throughout the days leading up to his exit, I knew undoubtedly that Chase would go on to an exciting new project he was extremely passionate about (I highly recommend you check out Loom), and that Localeur would sustain the loss of our product leader. More importantly, I believed his departure would create more space for myself as a lone acting founder to drive the product roadmap (which had already entailed a full redesign of our app) and for our founding engineer, also named Chase, to step up even more as a functional leader.

In the last few months, our team doubled after we secured our most significant round of funding, but the seeds of both the equity financing and recent hires were planted many months ago during those crucial conversations with Chase White.

In building my team, before and after his departure, the most important aspects I look for in candidates are the following:

  1. Accountability: Do I feel like this person is someone I can count on and someone that will hold themselves to a high standard?
  2. Companionship: Do I feel this person is someone I can learn from, spend time with, and establish a level of rapport that would enable us to reach extremely ambitious goals?
  3. Talent: Do I feel this person is a certified star in their sector, such as an engineer, designer, or content/marketing role. I need to feel like I have surrounded myself with people who are the best of the best. It’s no wonder my team is both diverse and small. Quality talent is better than hiring for quantity.

Those three attributes are keys to success not because of some unique insight I have, but because of the direct and positive experience, I had from partnering with Chase to bring Localeur to life in the first place.

Written by Joah Spearman