In her speech at Female Tech Heroes at High Tech Campus earlier this year, HighTechXL cofounder Anique Soetermeer stressed how crucial a diverse team is for the success of any startup, highlighting her most effective approaches to transforming any team into a high-performance and truly diverse one.

Team at the core of success of any startup

At HighTechXL, we truly believe that anyone who has an idea and wants to improve the lives of others, deserves a chance to become an entrepreneur,” Soetermeer said as she opened her speech.

Openness to diversity is mirrored in the HTXL team itself: 28 people from 13 nationalities, of which 55 percent are non-Dutch and 45 percent Dutch, with a male-female ratio of 60/40.

“The only sustainable differentiator between your company and your competitors is your team. Everything can and will be copied. But a team can’t be copied.”

Besides, everything in a startup revolves around the team, according to Soetermeer.

Who is responsible if a startup runs out of cash? The team.

Who is responsible if a startup develops a product with no market need? The team.

Soetermeer enumerated eight elements necessary to build a successful high-performance startup team:

• sense of purpose

• open communication

• trust and mutual respect

• shared leadership

• continuous learning

• flexibility and adaptability

• effective working procedures

• diversity

Diversity should be hot for any startup

Soetermeer explained diversity has been a hot topic in the business world for decades: “I want to state six reasons why diversity should be hot.”

Diversity increases profitability:

Research (McKinsey, 2018) shows gender diversity increases innovation revenues by 21% and ethnic diversity by 33%.

Diversity prevents group think:

Group think is a psychological phenomenon which happens to homogenous teams … they tend to bond so tightly together that it’s not possible to have a different opinion anymore.

Diversity is the key to winning the war for talent:

"Baby boomers are leaving their jobs and there is less talent coming in. So we simply can’t afford anymore not to take in more women … but also other, different profiles in our organizations.”