Small teams often outperform larger ones, even when up against tech giants like Google and Facebook. This is due to a phenomenon known as the “Ringelmann Effect,” where individual productivity decreases as team size increases. A study by Harvard Business School found that smaller teams are more productive, with four to five members being the optimal size. The reasons for this include less time spent on coordination, more motivation, and better communication.

Start-ups often have the advantage of small, focused teams. This is evident in the success of companies like WhatsApp, which had only 35 engineers when it was bought by Facebook for $19 billion. Small teams can also respond faster to changes and pivot more quickly, which is crucial in the fast-paced tech industry.

However, small teams do have their challenges. They can suffer from a lack of diversity in skills and perspectives, and the pressure on each team member is greater. To mitigate these issues, it’s recommended that start-ups hire generalists who can wear many hats, and create a culture of open communication and feedback.

In conclusion, while small teams face challenges, their advantages often outweigh these, making them a key factor in start-up success.

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