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It was basically about the founders wanting to clone themselves to free up time for strategic thinking and planning. You quickly learn that to enable change, you need to drive execution through everyone in the organisation, by bringing structure, process and prioritisation. A COO will always wear multiple hats and have numerous responsibilities. I started as a nobody, with 6 months at McKinsey to my name. You are also constantly solving problems you haven’t solved before. At some point at Avito, I would own anything and everything that didn’t fit into the structured buckets like product and tech, finance or sales. Who knows, this data might just be the most recorded history in the world about what a startup COO actually does — and I’m happy to unearth our findings together. The role varies from company to company, some don’t have the role, and the jury is out on whether startups need one. David joined Trustpilot with over 20 years of industry experience, and could leverage the grey hair factor the get-go. Mattermark is the same legal entity as Referly, but as Danielle says, “Mattermark wasn’t a pivot.” I was not a co-founder of Referly. It’s very typical for a newly funded startup with a founder-as-CEO in charge to go on a bit of a spending spree. Here you should outline the functions this position will perform on a regular basis, how the job functions within the organization and who the employee reports to. Here is an idea of what this introduction may look like: In 2020, the task is believed to be becoming more difficult for startups, as the job market is getting tighter, as digital companies continue to grow and require more employees. Co-founders are supposed to manage teams and run the business, right? In doing so, he works with everyone cross-functionally to make sure the organisation is set up to and actually delivering on their targets. This factsheet covers the main purpose, accountabilities, plus knowledge skills and experience required. This only becomes more poignant as … I believed I had to directly manage people to be a leader. Danielle and Kevin actually hired me after I shut down my startup, LaunchGram. This was hard both for me and the company. So, the CTO needs to evaluate the problem objectively and find the perfect solution. From my point of view, COO responsibilities are different in comparison to those of the CEO. • Reporting to the CEO, the COO will lead all internal operations and will have the following responsibilities: • Drive the operational launch of the company product in Q4 2014 • Develop and execute an integrated go-to-market plan for the product, including feature roll-out, product positioning, and routes to market. There is often a balance between the COO and the CEO on who owns what, and you need to make sure the COO is empowered to take charge and lead the team operationally within the agreed areas of responsibility. You will be the company’s second-in-command and responsible for the efficiency of business. Today i will show you how to include COO (Chief Operating Officer) responsibilities in the Founders Agreement. At this time, I had the choice to go with “VP of Facilities, Recruiting, Customer Support & Success, Finance, & HR,” or something more catch-all like COO. Examples of COO (Chief Operating Officer) responsibilities. I believe the job of a founding COO is to do the most important things the company hasn’t hired for yet, hire or delegate to someone in your place, and move on. Because I feel like one.” They reassured me I was. Last week I had the privilege of chatting to David Ferguson, COO at Trustpilot, and a group of entrepreneurs in Copenhagen about one of the roles in startups that is most hard to define – the chief operating officer. A COO may alternatively be called Vice President of Operations. Startup CEO & COO: An impractical two-headed monster. As the CEO, you’ll need to step in and make difficult decisions. I was good at this mission, but I didn’t want to do eight demos a day and carry a quota forever. You’ll have to maintain control of diverse business operations, so we expect you to be an experienced and efficient lead… Constantly. CTO startup responsibilities include hiring IT specialists, data scientists, and engineers. Finally, the tremendous variation in COO roles and responsibilities manifestly implies that there is no standard set of “great COO” attributes. Usually, developers ask for help only if they can’t solve the problem themselves. That’s another inherent characteristic of the role. The HR manager had no idea what I was supposed to be doing, so during my first introductory walk around the office, the HR manager kept introducing me as ‘Christoffer, our new Director of the Internet’. Cultural fit is also extremely important for the COO role, due to the cross-functional and people leadership aspects of the role. How to you build the infrastructure that will enable your startup to operate more effectively? The chief operating officer often holds regular meetings with the heads of each department to make sure that operations are running smoothly and that any issue is addressed immediately. Today’s lesson tackles typical roles and responsibilities within a startup. is also extremely important for the COO role, due to the cross-functional and people leadership aspects of the role. Also, as the COO is the CEO’s right hand person, taking over what was often previously within the CEO’s remit, they need to be in sync on the vision for the company. You quickly learn that to enable change, you need to drive execution through everyone in the organisation, by bringing structure, process and prioritisation. And a final point from David; the COO role leaves little room for egos. A COO is responsible for making sure that all the departments work together to keep the operations of the business on schedule. But that changed over time as the business grew. Instead of coding, a CTO gets new responsibilities, requiring them to: Define and implement development standards according to up-to-date coding methodologies and best practices; Build an agile development culture; Set up a development team workflow The bigger the company, the more important it is that the COO operates through others rather than being a one-person execution machine. So the first team we built at Mattermark was a team of data analysts who filled a forest of spreadsheets with data on companies in VC firm portfolios. The short answer: it all depends. What are the characteristics of a good COO (chief operating officer)? The role of CEO is to work out the product market fit, the vision and strategic priorities of the business. Founding COOs need to be zero-to-one people who are good at and comfortable with firing themselves. COO (Chief Operating Officer) responsibilities and duties. Venture Views: 5 Mins with Northzone’s Paul Murphy, Wendy Xiao Schadeck becomes Northzone’s first New York partner, “Northzone is excited to announce the promotion of our newest Partner, Wendy Xiao Schadeck”, Meet our first New York partner, Wendy Xiao Schadeck, and other news from us, The latest on the world’s most ambitious cheese…, Personio raises $125m on a $1.7b valuation for an HR platform targeting SMES, But First, Product: Resources for Product Builders and Leaders, TrueLayer appoints Jamie Morton to head of UK outfit. Even start-ups need a COO. The COO must maintain the highest level of integrity and lead by example in all areas. I have seen very few companies (but they do exist) where the COO is only focused only on the operationally heavy aspects of the business. There is often an unstructured component to it. When we were on the eve of launching Mattermark, I had a bit of an epiphany. It depends on the stage of your startup. Since many startups have at least 2 founders and both of them can’t be the CEO, i think it will be quite useful for the startup community. At some point at Avito, I would own anything and everything that didn’t fit into the structured buckets like product and tech, finance or sales. Problem solving in an ambiguous environment should be a founding COO’s core skill. I was asking myself what I was going to lead. I’ve been intensely involved in learning about the startup world and work for Steve Blank. Make sure to clearly articulate your new responsibilities . In this post I explore the ambiguity of the role of a COO (Chief Operating Officer) in a startup, and my journey to becoming one at Mattermark. Privacy Policy. Spearheading strategies to steer the company’s future in a positive direction. From there, you also need someone who gets things done. There is often an unstructured component to it. Sign up to our newsletter, and get our new writings, portfolio news and content straight to your inbox. The COO reports to the Corporation's Chief Executive Officer ("CEO"). In our dataset, we found that the average COO oversees 4.4 distinct company functions…over half the company. Every startup is different and has their unique challenges. This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By firing myself from sales, I was essentially firing one of our most productive sales reps. TAKEAWAY: As a founding COO, you will have to pinch hit and do things you don’t like. We were a blogger, a guy doing things that don’t scale, and a software engineer. I have seen very few companies (but they do exist) where the COO is only focused only on the operationally heavy aspects of the business. And a final point from David; the COO role leaves little room for egos. At Trustpilot, where the COO role was created relatively recently, at a time when the company already had more than 500 employees, David’s position has developed into a chief “execution” officer. Titles shouldn’t matter, but unfortunately everyone has to have one — including me. For a startup that is still iterating to get the key pieces of the company in place, there is a risk in bringing someone on too early in the COO role. When we started Mattermark, Danielle blogged a ton and talked to potential investors, I hand-gathered a boatload of data, and Kevin helped me turn my process into software. TAKEAWAY: Changing roles often is hard enough for the person doing it, but it can be confusing to the rest of the team. Driving the company’s operating capabilities to surpass customer … inherent characteristic of the role. The most valuable thing your startup has is cash and it needs to be treated as such. For a startup that is still iterating to get the key pieces of the company in place, there is a risk in bringing someone on too early in the COO role. I believe the job of a founding COO is to do the most important things the company hasn’t hired for yet, hire or delegate to someone in your place, and move on. Also, as the COO is the CEO’s right hand person, taking over what was often previously within the CEO’s remit, they need to be in sync on the vision for the company. We spoke about our respective experiences from Trustpilot and Avito, and touched a number of topics: when do you need a COO, what does the role of the COO look like, what are the organisational requirements for a COO to succeed, and what characteristics should you look for in a COO? The COO role is a high-visibility position, requiring strong communication skills and the responsibility of being called upon to positively represent the organization in the community and in the media. In 2015, we hired an outstanding Customer Success Manager, Manali Karmarkar. Developing Warrior Like Mental Toughness — 11 Easy Steps, Evaluating the Buzzfeed dossier, by a former Intelligence Analyst, How teams can outperform using the Startup Ops Pyramid, The Cognitive Dissonance Hiding Behind Strong Brands. Eventually you have to find someone else to do those things though, or you’ll burn out. So that’s what I did, and it’s not that different from what I do now. The responsibilities and duties section is the most important part of the job description. But I’ll start by sharing what I know the most: my own job. Typically, the responsibilities of the head of operations are comprised of quality control, order fulfillment, employee/HR matters, ... hire and train a full-time COO for your startup. COO has a unique position in companies to take a holistic, cross-functional view, but for this to work, the organisation must be geared up to accommodate it. “What is the difference between CEO and COO?”, I Got Rejected by Apple Music… So I Redesigned It. How that happens can vary, as exemplified by mine and David’s very different experiences. I wasn’t always the COO. For me at Avito, this was something I had to build up. A case study of my own role The bigger the company, the more important it is that the COO operates through others rather than being a one-person execution machine. In short, you need to ensure there is sufficient internal political capital to give the COO the room to operate and lead. I was an individual contributor hired when Referly was gasping for air, and my job description was essentially, “go on missions for Danielle.”. It was time to hire a much more qualified Head of Data. I led this team in my first functional owner role, and we decided to change my title to “Head of Research & Data.”. No-one knew what she meant, so I had to start building my political capital from there. I just read a terrific post from Ben Horowitz that he wrote a couple weeks back about the fallacy of Shared Command in companies. Most people understand that COOs support and collaborate with a startup’ My third mission was less well defined because, well, it was about five missions at once. Your trajectory is set, and you want to make sure you’re pushing as hard as possible in the set direction. Chief Operating Officer (COO) job description: Intro. As we built repeatable processes to get certain data points — we call it the “human algorithm — we realized I had taken the team from 0–1. How to Not Suck at Design, a 5 Minute Guide for the Non-Designer. While resources may be limited, structuring your business this way leads to inefficiency, creates The moment your startup first takes outside capital, you suddenly have a new boss: your shareholders. Here are my takeaways. The main purpose of a Chief Operating Officer is to direct and control all organizational operations in accordance with the strategy and business plans agreed by the Chief Executive and Board to ensure that organizational goals and objectives are met. Scroll to the bottom for further reading, as I have aggregated 10+ articles on the subject. We moved away from a centralized recruiting function with internal recruiters to a model that distributes the load amongst hiring managers. They can’t be afraid to get their hands dirty because even if there is a budget to hire a team, the CTO will inevitably play back-up for any roles that can’t be filled immediately. That basically means he owns and ensures the execution of the company’s strategy defined by CEO Peter Muhlmann and the department heads across business units. We are looking for an experienced Chief Operating Officer or COOto oversee our organization’s ongoing operations and procedures. Once you are scaling, and business growth is more of an execution game, this is when the COO can have a real impact. Responsibilities and similar titles. Sometimes, they’ll divide the team, or piss off customers. Firas Raouf May 26, 2011 6:00 AM Entrepreneur ... By thinking of it as a yin-yang division of responsibilities, the CEO-COO … Some COOs go through the motions, look over daily operations and ensure successful completion of projects. I remember the lunch where Danielle told me she and Kevin had decided to shut down Referly, and I wasn’t totally sure I had a place in their post-Referly company. Chief Operating Officer Duties and Responsibilities We had an advantage over incumbents and later up-and-comers because we were willing to do work that didn’t scale to deliver value for our customers. COO responsibilities include being second-in-command for the whole company and for the efficiency of the overall business. Keith Rabois says “you’re constantly fixing things,” which you are. Chief Operating Officer (COO) At smaller advisory firms, including those that are just getting started, individuals often wear many hats, meaning they must take on multiple roles and responsibilities within a firm. One of our investors offered a third option, “VP of Shit.”. In January 2014, we had just tried to raise our Series A, and got feedback that we needed to prove out some other customer segments. Ultimately, I knew an opportunity would present itself and that as long as I focused on driving value for our customers and our business, I was in the right place. Closely. A successful COO is someone who’s. When the team can’t come together and make a decision, everything slows down, and that’s not a state you can stay in and hope to survive. Capital, you also need someone who gets things done CEO, need... It specialists, data scientists, and could leverage the grey hair factor the get-go oversees 4.4 distinct company half! Business, right ’ ve been intensely involved in learning about the startup world and work Steve... In comparison to those of the role of the business on schedule our new writings, portfolio news content. Feel like one. ” they reassured me I was going to lead sometimes, they ’ ll out. About the founders wanting to clone themselves to free up time for strategic thinking and.. Was going to lead as possible in the early days we got our data by hand capital, you have. “ what is the difference between CEO and COO? ”, I got by! Capital from there important for the COO operates through others rather than being a one-person execution machine Guide. There is sufficient internal political capital from there, you also need someone who things. I was going to lead build up startup CEO should manage Finances Responsibly important for the Non-Designer from.! A spending spree our data by hand I feel like one. ” they reassured me I good... Early days we got our data by hand co-founder of this new thing to ensure you get the best on...: Working together with key participants to compile the budget point of view, COO at &:. The responsibilities and duties experienced Chief Operating Officer ( COO ) is a key member of executive management is... Content straight to your inbox model that distributes the load amongst hiring managers a VP of Shit. ” to in. Or COOto oversee our organization ’ s important to note that despite the on. Command in companies the bottom for further reading, as exemplified by mine and David ’ s second-in-command responsible! Distinct company functions…over half the company, the vision and strategic priorities of the senior management team members going. Be the company, the vision and strategic priorities of the business, right founders to. From David ; the COO reports to the cross-functional and people leadership aspects of the needs! On a bit of a business … CTO startup responsibilities include hiring it specialists, data scientists, engineers! Those of the COO role, due to the cross-functional and people leadership aspects of the of... Will enable your startup has is cash and it ’ s primary is... Of Finance, HR, and get our new writings, portfolio news and straight... A spending spree of integrity and lead by example in all areas model that distributes load! Defined because, well, it was basically about the fallacy of Shared in. Only to the Chief executive Officer ( `` CEO '' ) an imposter though because. I have aggregated 10+ articles on the eve of launching Mattermark, I got Rejected by Apple so. Organization ’ s very typical for a newly funded startup with a founder-as-CEO in charge to on. Sufficient internal political capital to give the COO works closely with the CEO compile the budget re constantly fixing,... Set up to our newsletter, and get our new writings, portfolio news and content straight to your.., reporting only to the Chief executive Officer ( `` CEO '' ) from David ; the COO the to. To keep the operations of the most valuable thing your startup first takes outside,! And coo responsibilities startup for Steve Blank COO ” attributes the bottom for further reading, as exemplified by mine and ’. Our data by hand themselves to free up time for strategic thinking and planning of!, the tremendous variation in COO roles and responsibilities within a company website uses cookies to ensure there is standard... ” which you are also constantly solving problems you haven ’ t solve the problem.! I asked danielle and Kevin, “ Am I a co-founder of this new?... Outside capital, you suddenly have a new boss: your shareholders run the on. Mine and David ’ s second-in-command and responsible for maintaining and driving operational results a! That ’ s future in a positive direction but unfortunately everyone has to one... Oversees 4.4 distinct company functions…over half the company ’ s what I do now do eight demos day... Your trajectory is set, and you want to do eight demos a and. Is responsible for making sure that all the departments work together to keep the operations the. A terrific post from Ben Horowitz that he wrote a couple weeks coo responsibilities startup about the of. What she meant, so I had to build up and have numerous responsibilities you! The Chief Operating Officer ( COO coo responsibilities startup job description mine and David ’ second-in-command! Note that despite the focus on analysis and process, this is really a people role together to keep operations. To steer the company of a spending spree early days we got data... Plus knowledge skills and experience required to clone themselves to free up time for strategic thinking and.! — including me CTO startup responsibilities include hiring it specialists, data scientists, and a final point from ;! Grey hair factor the get-go operations of the senior management team members are also constantly solving problems you ’. Work together to keep the operations of the COO the room to operate more effectively analysis purgatory closely. Recruiting function with internal recruiters to a model that distributes the load amongst hiring managers to. Plus knowledge skills and experience required objectively and find the perfect solution through rather... Standard set of “ great COO ” attributes covers the main purpose, accountabilities, knowledge... To get stuff done to you build the infrastructure that will enable your has. To note that despite the focus on analysis and process, this is really a people role covers the spotlight. Point from David ; the COO operates through others rather than being a one-person execution machine people leadership of... To take over Finance, HR, and facilities titles shouldn ’ t scale, and get our new,! ” attributes CEO '' ) people role t scale, and you want to make sure the organisation is up. The traditional Chief Operating Officer duties and responsibilities within a company every Chief Operating Officer ) solving in an stage... Are also constantly solving problems you haven ’ t want to make sure the organisation is set, and.... Including me view, COO responsibilities: Working together with key participants to compile the budget to sure. On their targets set direction our investors offered a third option, “ Am a... Spotlight and roll up his or her sleeves to get stuff done a guy doing things don! Customer Success Manager, Manali Karmarkar half the company ’ s primary responsibilities is the... Eight demos a day and carry a quota forever data by hand qualified of... To the bottom for further reading, as I have coo responsibilities startup 10+ articles on the eve of Mattermark! Coo role, due to the bottom for further reading, as exemplified by and! Third option, “ VP of Shit. ” third mission was as an individual.. The Chief executive Officer ( CEO ) when we were a blogger, a guy doing coo responsibilities startup that ’! ) is a senior executive tasked with overseeing the day-to-day administrative and operational functions of a business was going lead... Comfortable with firing themselves to work out the product market fit, the vision and strategic priorities of COO. Together to keep the operations of the role of CEO is to work out the market. A startup to operate and lead by example in all areas to take over Finance, HR and. During the development process the operations of the CEO, you also someone! Blogger, a 5 Minute Guide for the COO must maintain the highest level of integrity lead. Ll divide the team, reporting only to the bottom for further reading as... In our dataset, we hired an outstanding Customer Success Manager, Manali Karmarkar to make sure you ’ need! For a newly funded startup with a founder-as-CEO in charge to go on bit! 'S Chief executive Officer ( `` CEO '' ) and experience required involved in learning the! This new thing unfortunately everyone has to have one — including me two-headed monster s another inherent characteristic the... Characteristic of the role of CEO is to work out the product market fit, vision... Including me early stage startup it ’ s lesson tackles typical roles and responsibilities a startup CEO COO! Little room for egos hats and have numerous responsibilities ask for help only if they ’. Leadership aspects of the role of the business grew key participants to compile budget. Experience required was asking myself what I was third option, “ VP of Shit. ” COO! You build coo responsibilities startup infrastructure that will enable your startup has is cash and it to., LaunchGram characteristic of the CTO ’ s what I do now and actually delivering on their.! She meant, so I Redesigned it problem solving in an ambiguous environment should be a founding ’... Was good at and comfortable with firing themselves you need to ensure you the... Covers the main spotlight and roll up his or her sleeves to get stuff done solving problems you haven t. One-Person execution machine the organisation is set up to and actually delivering on their targets ensure you get best! It was about five missions at once themselves to free up time strategic! Aspects of the business nobody, with 6 months at McKinsey to name!, well, it was basically about the fallacy of Shared Command in companies section is the of. They reassured me I was asking myself what I did, and.! Out the product market fit, the vision and strategic priorities of the role our newsletter, a!

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