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Neil Patel Interview – Team Building and Focus of an Early-Stage Startup

Daniel Faggella

Daniel Faggella is the founder and CEO at Emerj. Called upon by the United Nations, World Bank, INTERPOL, and many global enterprises, Daniel is a sought-after expert on the competitive strategy implications of AI for business and government leaders.

Neil Patel Interview - Team Building and Focus of an Early-Stage Startup

As an avid student of practitioner of internet marketing, I run into Neil Patel’s “QuickSprout” blog whether I like it or not.

Luckily, I like it.

Neil started off as a young consultant and ended up as co-founder of both KISSmetrics and CrazyEgg, amongst a number of other topics. In addition, Neil speaks all over the world on topics related to web marketing, SEO, and online business. His personal blog at (mentioned above) also happens to rank obscenely high for everything from internet marketing to how to buy and sell homes.

In my talk in Neil, I wanted to focus on tackling some of the most prevalent conundrums that young entrepreneurs run up against, and questions that I felt might be of the most use to the entrepreneurs tuned in.


“How would you ideally go about building an initial startup team?”

Neil’s short answer was to hire people smarter than yourself. “I am a not the best engineer… in fact… I’m a shitty engineer and only do some basic HTML stuff, so I’d never hire an engineer as good as me… the entrepreneur never needs to be the smartest person there, he just needs to hire the smart people.”

Seeking expertise makes a lot of sense, though it’s common for early-stage startups to lack the funds to slap a check the best coder, the best sales manager, the best designer, and so on (I certainly don’t have the wealthy relatives to get it done like that). Neil’s advice here is to look for people who are hungry, who are willing to put in the long hours in exchange for equity – so long as they’re a cultural fit and can genuinely share the same vision.

How you find them?

“You started off with consulting work, which ended up funding some of your initial projects such as CrazyEgg, do you recommend consulting as a viable or ever overlooked strategy for building capital early on?”

Neil believes that this is a more than viable strategy. He mentions how the folks at 37 Signals did something similar, as did the guys who built what is now Google Analytics.

Consulting didn’t however, come to Neil like some kind of epiphany. “I was going to a lot of conferences and realized that people were interested in consulting so I would just… sell em’.” It’s called being scrappy. But at the end of the day it got the job done for Neil and many other folks in the tech space. Neil mentions that it’s by no means the only choice for getting dough in the door early, but it’s a potential strategy that can leverage current skills for quick cash in the here and now… which tends to come in handy when you’re trying to start companies and stuff like that.

“You’re involved in a whole bunch of things right now – how do you recommend entrepreneurs juggle multiple projects?”

Neil states that he’s good at managing his time, and emphasizes personal efficiency and delegation skills as paramount.

“You don’t have worry about getting stuff done on time, you have to hire good people – and you don’t have to micromanage them. They worry about stuff getting done on time, they worry about it coming out perfect, they make sure there’s no bugs, right? So it all comes down to working with good people.”

People, people, people. Reminds me of that whole Jim Collins thing about getting the right people on the bus. Go figure.

If you can’t hire them, make them a contractor. Can’t do that? Give em equity.

Neil also talks about how – though it appears as if he has a lot of projects going on – he’s really focused on KISSmetrics at present. QuickSprout and his speaking gigs are feeders to that one cause which he’s holding as most important, and he recommends that any ancillary projects remain related to the “one thing” (as he put it) that you’re focusing on at any given time.

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