My team and I are very capable (we launched our site in short time its getting updated frequently) but this is our first real startup and we do not have any sort of famous reputation (like ex-facebook or ex-yelp employee).
Do you think its worth our time finding someone with those qualities to join our team?
I know this is slightly subjective but I'm just trying to understand how critical it is to have a "Who's Who" on the team.
The second question is how do I attract someone like that?
First ask yourself: Why do you want to get funded?
Can you make this business grow and become profitable with your own money?
Funding isn't the end all be all of starting a business, profit is. I actually just wrote about this. Read here: http://landonswan.tumblr.com/post/4239678207/fund-yourself. Sorry for self promotion but it seems applicable.
To answer your question, no you do not need a big name. You need a good idea and a bunch of guys who can EXECUTE. My 2nd company was funded in alpha and sold in beta. We had some minor connections but it was the idea and the execution that sold us to both the VC and the buyer.
If you can demonstrate the ability to be profitable on a little money, VCs will look at you far more seriously with their big money. Think profit first. Any company with a cool idea can burn through $5m, few can turn $5m into $20m via profit.
Best of luck.
I don't know if fame is the correct term. But you do have to consider how the reputation of your team as a whole looks to a potential investor. In place of a product that's already generating revenue or some other tangible you have to trade on potential, and assessing the team reputation is a big part of judging potential. What other efforts has the core team been successful in, and how relevant are those successes to selling confidence your current venture? Don't let that distract you from putting together the best pitch, prototype or whatever meanwhile.
Don't forget the Google team weren't famous when they were doing Google.
Sure a "name" can help a little in getting either exposure, or in getting connected to investors, but they can and do get it wrong.
Don't let it bend you out of shape - by all means try and approach some potential candidates, but then you have two different pitches to hone and perfect! The pitch to the celebrity and the pitch to investors.
I'd be more inclined to try pitching to a couple of investors / VCs and see what sort of feedback you generate - if it's the figures or business plan I don't think a name would help you. If they feel the team doesn't have the right level of credibility then that, in my opinion, is the time to be trying to approach those with reputation to give the team credibility.
I really value this question and the answers. Fully appreciating the "who you know" variable in start-ups is so important.
The credibility of the team is an important part of the overall decision to invest. An an investor in the high-risk world of start-ups with such a high failure rate i want to mitigate my risk as much as possible.
Google was used as an example -- but even there the primary investor made brining in "adult supervision" as part of the contingency of their investment.
There are many ways to augment your team. These include building out a preliminary board of directors of experienced and connected individuals. Another is building an advisory board of people who lend their names and networks.
I think that building a network of supporters and stakeholders that carry credibility among your target (whether funder or customer) is an important part of building a successful company. Your ability to build that network will be understood as a reflection of one of your abilities to make your star-up successful.
I wish you the very best in building that network!
Getting an ex- member is probably only going to get you on TechCrunch or Mashable, it's not going to sway the VC's in anyway. If a venture capitalist were to base funding a startup on who's famous and known in their team, they would be losing billions of dollars a year.
It's always how well your team works and how you implement your idea. You've mentioned you've got a good team, so keep at it and don't waste time hiring someone who worked for Facebook that will most likely have some kind of God complex, especially if they were to find out you only hired them to look more attractive and startup-y.