Why Startups Should Never Build a Team Based On “Fit”

Words mean things. Maybe not this one.

Joe Procopio


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What’s the most important thing you look for in a new hire? If you say “fit,” then you’ll probably get a lot of people nodding their heads in agreement with you.

But what are you really saying?

Look, there’s nothing wrong with the concept of fit on its own. In fact, up until my previous startup got acquired, I used to believe that my most critical factor in hiring was indeed fit — a belief that got crushed having to wade through all the employee existential crises that surfaced during the periods immediately before and after the exit.

And in fact, if someone asks me the same question today, and if I really don’t care about who is asking the question, I’ll still say “fit,” without thinking.

But a few years ago, I started asking myself the question: “What’s the opposite of fit?”

I had to think about the answer. So I’ll ask you to think about your own answer for a minute.

“What’s the opposite of fit?”

Tell me it’s not, “A person that no one in their right mind would ever want to work with.”

Let’s talk about some better ways to build a team.

Fit is a Crutch

“Fit” is one of those old standby answers in startup and innovative company culture — a stock answer that’s easy to throw out because everyone has already agreed that it’s the right answer.

It’s like saying that “talent” is the most predictive factor in a startup’s success.

Is it?

Well, sure it is. But that’s just sort of scratching the surface and walking away.

Here’s a hypothetical: What if you took the best talent in the world and put them to work on a lousy solution to an unimportant problem based on a stupid idea in an area of business that none of them particularly care about.

Here’s an example: What if you put the most talented carpenters in the world on solving the problem of the financial loss of cost calculations that don’t take into account fractions of cents in low-level Generative AI data access sales by Superman…



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com