Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators
Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators
Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators

Building a Team

Your team is the face, the brain and the heart of your incubator or accelerator. They help to shape how your program is designed, who participates in it, what they learn and how they learn it. Your team is a strategic asset.


This section provides high-level strategies for bringing together the right people, with the right skills at the right time. It addresses the importance of company culture in uniting a team, and demonstrates how team structure can be designed to generate the best results.

Put Talent Before Dollars

Traditionally, organisations think about raising money before recruiting talent on their teams. They believe that once they raise enough money, they will be able to find the right skills and talent to fulfil their mission. In this way of thinking, hiring is seen as an administrative, rather than a strategic responsibility.

In contrast, successful businesses understand that human capital (the team) is a strategic function that is critical to business success. In order to succeed organisations need to think about recruitment as a prerequisite to fundraise.


People buy-in to a business vision for different reasons. Think about what you can offer them beyond an initial $ amount.

A lack of strong human capital is often the root cause of enterprises not being able to attract sufficient capital or funding.

If investors see too many holes in skills and experience they may see the business as too risky for investment.

  • The best-performing CEOs spend more than 50% of their time on people, the worst spend less than 10%

    Shell Foundation & Village Capital

Develop People Internally

As new people are brought into an organisation, it is important to figure out what their strengths are and how they want to grow. By nurturing that talent, you will generate the most value from that individual, and will ultimately provide them with an employment experience that benefits them and their career.

It is important for organisational leadership to have an ongoing understanding of the skills and capabilities that exist within their teams, and to constantly evaluate those skills against the next milestones of the business.

Practical Tip

When evaluating the skills and capabilities needed to move the business forward, it is helpful to ask:

  • Who has this skill already?
  • Who can I build up and support to develop this skill further?
  • Who is no longer serving the team?
  • Are they more suited to another team or department, or do they need to be replaced?

Replacing members of your team can be a difficult but necessary decision, in some circumstances. By keeping an ill-suited team member on staff is not only damaging to the business, but it may prevent that person from finding a role that inspires and challenges them.

  • Sometimes the people that started the organisation aren’t necessarily who is needed to go to the next level. It’s all about making those hard decisions.

    Ebony Pope, Village Capital


Levelling Up People and Culture

  • 1.

    Column 1: 5min

    First, let’s revisit your next milestones. Take a few minutes in the first column in your workbook to identify 5 big things you need to accomplish in the next 18 months, whether to prepare for your next set of programs, to get to the next stage of your business, or to get ready for your next fundraising season.


    Column 2: 5min

    In the second column, write down the skills needed for each of these things to happen. Some examples are below.



    – Ability to create key partnerships

    – Ability to build the product

    – Subject matter expertise



    – Functionality

    – Curriculum

    – Facilitation

    – Materials (selection, packaging)


    Value proposition:

    – Sales ability

    – Marketing

    – Distribution


    Business model:

    – Revenues: market understanding for pricing

    – Costs: financial management (budget, cost control)



    – Process management

    – Hiring, training, onboarding

    – Design and measure outcomes/quality control


    Column 3 to 5: 15min

    Assess which skills exist internally and which you need to source from other places.

    Assess when you would need these skills.

    For these skills, brainstorm some real people or backgrounds experience who could fill them.


    Source: The Hitachi Foundation & Broughton Consulting

Commit to Culture

One of the most important things you can do with the people who make up your team is to talk to them about culture. When shared effectively, an organisation’s culture can help to guide a team in everything that they do.

A successful organisational culture is one that is understood and lived by people at all levels of the organisation, from the CEO to the most recent hire. A strong and unified culture can be even more effective at bringing teams together than an organisational strategy.

Practical Tip

Teams look to their leaders to establish norms and expectations around an organisation’s culture.

It is the role of leaders and managers to:

  • Articulate what the culture is and why it is important
  • Provide an example of that culture as it plays out in the day-to-day realities of their work

Organisational culture can be established and reinforced through a number of structural elements, such as organisational values, principles, rituals and activities.

  • When the right people have the right attitude, anything is possible within a team.

    Chris O’Neill, The Ākina Foundation


Culture of the Ākina Foundation

  • 1.

    The culture of the Ākina Foundation is informed by three structural elements:


    1. Values

    2. Principles

    3. Protocols


    The values of Ako, He Tangata and Bold Action are a key touchstone to the Ākina Foundation and have been chosen to be really unique to the organisation. 


    Ten principles help Ākina to enact their values in their day to day work. These principles are not about how the team relates to each other, but rather inform how the organisation makes decisions and executes their work. e.g. community-led or fail fast.


    Ākina uses three protocols from the list of Core Protocols from Jim McCarthy and Michele McCarthy. These are practical activities consisting of defined steps and commitments. When used regularly, protocols can help to create a shared understanding of and language around how an organisation operates.


    Source: The Ākina Foundation

Choose the Right Structure

The number of people that you have on a team, the roles that they play and the responsibilities that they hold significantly influences how your team operates with one another, and in the delivery of projects.


Structure of the Ākina Foundation

  • 1.

    The Ākina Foundation is a non-hierarchical organisation that structures their project teams using a very specific model. Team roles include:


    Team Leads: Jointly responsible for the delivery of the project. These tend to be internal Ākina staff.


    Contributors: Responsible for doing one thing within the project. e.g. Designing a workshop on your topic area of expertise.   Often external to the Ākina team (i.e. contractors


    Advisors: Advise the project team on different topics but without the responsibility for delivery.


    Ākina recruits people with T-shaped skillsets. People who are good generalists, but who also have deep expertise in a particular area. i.e really good at impact or really good a procurement. Over time, these people are supported and developed to build out their areas of deep understanding.


    Source: The Ākina Foundation


  • The Human Capital Advantage

    A curriculum for early-stage ventures

  • Village Capital Viral Pathway

    A set of protocols to aid in decision making and build trust in your team

    Read & Download
  • How to Get Hired: Understand if you are an I, T or X-Shaped Person

    An overview of the different skill-set shapes

  • The Core Protocols

    A set of protocols to aid in decision making and build trust in your team


  • Content Contributed By


    Village Capital builds bridges for entrepreneurs who are creating an inclusive and sustainable world. Their programs connect high potential, early-stage entrepreneurs with the people, institutions, and capital they need to succeed. Since 2009, Village Capital has supported more than 1,000 entrepreneurs through their programs, and partnered with affiliated investment funds, including VilCap Investments, that have invested seed capital in more than 90 program graduates. Through their VilCap Communities program, Village Capital provides an all-inclusive solution for program design, management, and implementation of a venture development program.




    Founded in 2008, Ākina is New Zealand’s leading social enterprise (SE) development organisation, operating in New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region. We deliver a range of capability building programmes for SEs at different stages of development, and provide specialist capacity building and advisory services in enterprise development, financing and market access, and sector development. Ākina believes that social entrepreneurs and social enterprise are key to building an economy that regenerates the environment and creates social foundations for people and communities to thrive.



Selecting a Cohort

How to attract entrepreneurs to your program and select a stellar cohort