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4 Ways to Motivate Your Startup Team and Get Major Results

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You’ve got smart, ambitious employees, clear project goals and great perks, but something in your company isn’t quite right.

Maybe the startup culture you envisioned is fading, or never really kicked in at all. Maybe you’re starting to see an uptick in turnover rates or a downturn in productivity.

The work is getting done, but without the efficiency and energy that will take your company to the next level. Morale is dragging, creativity is dwindling, and you’re not quite sure how to get it all going again. As the operating partner at F2 Venture Capital, I have heard founders worry about low motivation in all stages of their companies’ life cycle.

But fear not. You have the power to turn things around and revive your team’s flagging enthusiasm. Following are four effective ways to motivate your employees — and bring back the magic!

1. Hire people with complementary skills

Motivation starts by hiring people with unique skills who are experts in a specific area — and then giving them the freedom to use those skills. This lets each employee contribute to the company in a way that only he or she can.

Additionally, a complementary skill set can greatly assist with team harmony; when we are all experts in the same field, we have lots to argue about. Arguing wastes time and mental resources and is certainly counter-intuitive to team motivation.

In fact, research from the Harvard University Growth Lab suggests that complementary skills are one of the keys to reducing turnover. Growth Lab Research Director Frank Neffke, PhD found that when employees were in teams with those who had differing and complementary skills, it created “coworker synergy,” and employees stayed longer at their organization. 

Ultimately, hiring multiple people with the same skill set signals to employees that they’re replaceable, can lead to unhealthy competition and might increase turnover. Motivation flows when each member of the team feels like an invaluable part of the team.

Related: 37 Quotes on Motivation From the World’s Most Influential Leaders

2. Promote ownership

To get employees invested in the success of your company, cultivate a culture of ownership. With the feeling of ownership, employees will feel more invested in your organization’s success, empowering them to do better work.

You can do this by assigning team members tasks for which they bear primary responsibility, by enabling them to solve problems independently and by allowing them to make decisions themselves, without having to receive your approval. Giving employees end-to-end responsibility for a task that’s specific to their expertise ensures that they feel valuable, unique and irreplaceable to the company — all powerful motivators.

The opposite of ownership is micromanagement. A micromanager essentially denies his employees learning experiences and does not allow them to learn from their mistakes, taking away the chance for them to gain confidence in their abilities. Micromanaging your team tells them you don’t trust them and makes employees feel powerless, which is one of the greatest demotivators.

3. Build a company culture conducive to your employees’ schedules

Not everyone thrives sitting behind a desk from 9 to 5 in a suit and tie. If your work environment is formal and your hours inflexible, don’t hire that free spirit who does his or her best work at 2 a.m., and if you do, don’t force him or her to fit your work model. 

It makes more sense to focus on the outcome than on how you get there. If you can, tailor your work environment to accommodate your people; for example, allow employees to set their own hours, work remotely or telecommute. This kind of autonomy helps your team achieve a better work-life balance and unleash their creativity. It shows your employees that you respect them as humans outside the office and trust that they will get their work done in the best way for them.

Related: 5 Brain Hacks to Boost Your Motivation

4. Create a sense of urgency

“Urgency” is that magical energy that keeps employees excited, not just about their jobs but about the success of the company itself. It encompasses healthy competition, proactive behavior, vigilance and drive. If it isn’t carefully nurtured, urgency can fade over time. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep it alive.

For one, set internal timelines and short-terms KPIs for every employee and team. This can be especially effective when you have employees present their accomplishments. Clear deadlines keep everyone on task while presentations mean owning up to your work, good or bad.

Seek advice from your employees. When possible, consult your internal team before approaching board members, investors and external advisors. Keeping your employees informed about what’s going on builds their trust in you and contributes to that all-important sense of ownership.

And finally, lead by example. A sense of urgency starts at the top. Give your employees positive feedback and incentives, provide meaning and context for their work and, above all, share your enthusiasm with them.

Don’t mistake frantic action, high-stress levels and long work hours for urgency. Those are simply a recipe for burnout. True urgency is a healthy excitement that will keep your employees motivated even when things get tough.

Related: 7 Daily Practices That Power Your Motivation

All these methods will not only enhance motivation, but will also be keys to maintaining a positive and scalable startup culture. Ultimately, your employees are your greatest power. They can make or break your company, so allowing them to feel valuable and empowered in their role is paramount to your company’s success.

Startups

Down rounds are still rare by historical standards • TechCrunch

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If you thought that the recent venture capital market was tough, let me tell you about 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

With the first week of December under our belts, we’re not too far away from the end of the year. And that means that 2022’s venture capital story has largely been written. It’s not a single narrative; instead, this year started on a high, with momentum from the monstrous 2021 funding period persisting into the new year. From that point, we’ve seen a slowdown accelerate into what some consider a downturn.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money.

Read it every morning on TechCrunch+ or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


Startups raised lots of capital this year. Less, yes, than last year, but more than in nearly any year in recent memory. It’s still a good time to build a tech upstart.

Does that perspective feel too sunny when we hear so much doom and gloom on Twitter regarding startup prospects in a more conservative investing climate?

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This Doggy DNA Test Ships Free for the Holidays

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every pet owner wants the best for their animal sidekick. They want to spend as much time as possible with them, even at the office. But being the best dog owner you can be isn’t all about just being present. It helps to understand your dog on a genotypic as well as phenotypic level. That’s one reason why doggy DNA tests have become so popular.



DNA My Dog

If you’re wondering what to get for your pooch this holiday season, look no further than the DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test. If you order by December 8, you’ll get free shipping, but that date is coming up fast so don’t delay.

This simple, painless kit requires just a swab of your dog’s cheek to get a detailed report delivered in two weeks or less. That report includes a custom photo certificate of the breed breakdown found in your dog’s genetic breed composition, a percentage breakdown of the levels found in your dog’s DNA, and a report on the dominant breeds, personality traits, and health concerns that your dog may be genetically predisposed to. All of that information will help you be a better friend to your dog, making smarter decisions about food, training, and healthcare.

The DNA My Dog Kit was awarded at the 2020 GHO Biotechnology Awards and user Bonnie H. writes, “I loved this experience!!! The kit came immediately with great instructions. The results came exactly when promised. When I couldn’t open the attachment with the results, I emailed my concern and got instant help! To find out his DNA has been the coolest experience!”

Lock in free shipping on a unique gift for your dog by December 8. Grab the DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test on sale for 24% off $79 at just $59.99 now.

Prices subject to change.

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Howie Mandel gets a digital twin from DeepBrain AI

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Howie Mandel is stepping into the metaverse. DeepBrain AI has created a pretty realistic AI version of comedian and actor Mandel.

Deepbrain AI, based in South Korea and Palo Alto, California, calls its creation “AI Howie,” and it’s an interactive virtual human and digital twin for immersive and personalized fan experiences. AI Howie mentions VentureBeat and talks to me in the attached videos.

Unlike the “deepfakes” of Tom Cruise and other actors, the real Howie Mandel cooperated with DeepBrain AI to create the virtual human AI replica of the famous comedian, actor, host, and technology enthusiast. We used “virtual Paris” AI character at our recent MetaBeat event in San Francisco.

“I am equally thrilled, excited, and terrified to finally have the ability of showing up and doing things without going anywhere or doing anything,” said Mandel, in a statement. “Thank you, DeepBrain.”

DeepBrain AI applies deep learning technology to create hyper-realistic virtual humans through its AI Studios and the AI Human platforms. These virtual humans are digital twins of the real person, with the same appearance, voice, gestures, and subtle mannerisms. The AI Studios platform enables script-to-video software that synthesizes dynamic video content in seconds, producing the quickest and most
realistic AI-generated videos. The script-to-video editor makes it easy for customers to select a model and then make it say something based on a script. Within a minute or so the video is made.

This is a powerful communication and marketing tool for celebrities, professional athletes, news anchors, and even politicians. Before working with Howie Mandel, the DeepBrain AI team created digital twins of Premier League soccer superstar Son Heung-Min, multiple news anchors across Asia, and South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol.

Joe Murphy, business development manager for DeepBrain AI, said in an interview with VentureBeat that the virtual Howie is a conversational model that you pepper with questions. DeepBrain AI designs and develops these virtual humans for the purpose of creating digital twins (like Howie Mandel), digital people, and avatars.

It takes about four weeks of machine learning work to create a Howie Mandel digital twin.

“We create models of real people,” Murphy said. “We also have completely synthetic virtual humans. That is what we’ll call digital people. And then avatars are just the basic Roblox type of avatars. But where our technology comes in with the digital twins is we go through a deep learning process to clone the person’s voice, their mannerisms, their face, the way their eyes move, the way their lips move.”

He added, “So we create what we call the digital twin of the real person with all the uniqueness of that person. Our mission is to use this technology that we’ve developed throughout Asia and bring it to America.”

In addition to the script-to-video capabilities, the company provides fully conversational experiences with its AI Human software. The AI Human solution enables fans to interact and engage with AI Howie by simply asking questions. For example, when asked, “What was your favorite act on AGT this season?” the AI Howie model responds in real-time to support interactive, fun, and engaging fan experiences.

AI Humans are available within mobile apps, web browsers, or voice-activated kiosks.

“Our vision is to humanize digital experiences and empower creative teams to generate immersive content at scale,” said Eric Jang, DeepBrain AI CEO. “Working with Howie Mandel was a fun experience, and we are excited to see how the AI Howie collaboration will connect with his fans worldwide.”

DeepBrain AI, (formerly Moneybrain), a conversational AI startup based in Seoul, South Korea, has raised $44 million in a series B round led by Korea Development Bank at a post-money valuation of $180 million. The company started in 2016 and it has raised $54 million to date. The company has 130 employees.

The AI is being used for AI news anchors in South Korea and China at four different television networks. The networks flag that the anchor is an AI avatar so that no one gets confused.

The real Howie Mandel spent about a day shooting video with DeepBrain AI.

While multiple companies are working on virtual humans, DeepBrain AI’s avatars are hyperrealistic. One of Asia’s largest insurance companies is also using it, as is a “brand ambassador” for a soccer team.

“When we worked with Howie Mandel, we went down to his studio in Los Angeles, we provided a script, and fed our training data into our neural network,” Murphy said.

It took about a day to do a video shoot with Mandel and about three to four weeks of machine learning time on the computers to generate the first AI model.

Back in January, DeepBrain AI opened its office in Palo Alto, California, and it is talking to partners in Silicon Valley and the rest of the U.S. Over time, Murphy said that the hope is to create AI avatars in realistic 3D for the metaverse. In South Korea, kiosks are appearing in places like banks with both 2D avatars and 3D avatars.

Over time, Murphy said the avatars have gotten better at mannerisms, lip sync, and subtle gestures. The speed of real-time responses in conversations has also gotten faster. The company is talking about doing more with game companies and major brands.

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