What are the roles and duties of a seasoned COO?


Recruiting is by far one of the most challenging tasks for an entrepreneur. All founders will. At some point, be faced with the challenge of recruiting new members to add to their team and help take their business off the ground and while the hiring of some roles is easily accomplished, others require much consideration especially C –suite positions. The most commonly hired employees are Data Scientists and Developers who are continuously in demand as they are responsible for product development and in a tech startup they might be considered the heart of the startup. Next in order of importance are Marketing and Sales personnel as they are considered to be key levers of success because they fuel growth. However, one of the most important roles to hire for is that of the COO or the Chief Operating Officer.

Nearly every startup needs to appoint a COO at some point or the other.  Questions such as when does one know that it is the right time to hire a COO, what does the Chief Operating Officer in a technology company do, what size company needs a COO, should startups be looking for a COO and what exactly does  COO do often arise.

What will a COO do for a startup?

A COO skill set is not integral to starting a company but is definitely essential in order to scale it up. It is the firepower that is required for the startup to mutate into a well-oiled machine that executes at scale, under new pressure, with new objectives and functions. Founders must know exactly when to hire a COO in order to take a load of their schedules and ensure the smooth functioning of the business. The COO contributes in numerous ways and takes responsibility for all tasks involved.

·  This swiftly adds gap-filling skills and experience to the daily operations of the business

·  This strengthens, streamlines and enriches the leadership process thereby taking a load off the CEO

·  It allows founders the time to focus on other areas of the business

COO startup job description

The job description of a COO varies from company to company depending upon the size, the industry, and the stage of the company’s growth at which the COO is on-boarded. In addition, the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, the resources available, and the most urgent goals that need to be accomplished also help determine the role that a COO will play within the company. A COO’s job description can include a long list of tasks including Finance, Admin, HR, Logistics, Procurement, Delivery, and Customer Success among other things. This role is adaptable to the current state and future goals of the company with the twofold purpose of making the company strong enough and ready for the upcoming acceleration and the founders continuing to do what they do best and giving them the time and energy to focus on that.

The COO provides that much-needed layer of protection and functionality to the business. This allows all other departments to work in tandem with each other while the COO takes over the miscellaneous but necessary tasks to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Hiring an experienced COO

This is no easy task and can prove to be a time-consuming and expensive process. In addition, challenges may arise due to the following:

·  A COO is not considered as strategic at the early stage of the company.

·  Experienced leaders can be viewed as threats by founders as they will get their share of authority and will be instrumental in transforming the company and in the direction the business will take in the future.

·  Experienced COOs come from larger companies and can often be quite incompatible with the startup culture

·  Hiring a COO can be an expensive process as they come at a high CTC

With all C-suite roles, there must be a mutual understanding that their roles may differ but the mission is the same which is taking the company to the next level and achieving growth to scale. There are numerous departments or areas in a startup business that will undergo a major change with the onboarding of a COO. The most glaring changes will occur in the following:

·  Marketing and Sales

·  Product Development

·  Human Resources

·  Finance and Legal

Once these departments undergo their stages of evolution under the leadership of a COO, the entire business is transformed from a two genius game into a fully functional organization. While founders may be brilliant for their startups, they are in effect human and despite their talents, experience, and capabilities, they must build their team around them to alleviate some of the burdens and tackle the transition to help the company elevate and manage growth.

Hence the need for a COO

Everything needs to be properly planned, organized, and seamlessly connected to each other and allow for scaling gracefully without adverse friction. To ensure that the process is a smooth one, founders can enlist the expertise of organizations such as CoffeMug.ai which uses a sophisticated AI system to connect founders with suitable candidates and assist at every stage of the interview process.

CoffeMug.ai has successfully managed to support a number of startup businesses through various stages of their growth journey including providing access to multiple suitable candidates for C- suite positions, rounds of funding, and even product development adding significant value at each stage. 


Q. What does COO do in a startup?

A. The COO serves as the CEO’s second-in-command, helping him in different areas where they and other co-founders lack the capacity or skill set to deliver.

Q. What skills do you need to be a COO?

A. A COO must have strong leadership abilities, business acumen, and the ability to manage, lead, and supervise a multidisciplinary workforce. Also, he must be a strategic thinker who is open to new ideas and better ways of doing things, as well as being creative, imaginative, and adept at managing innovation.

Q. What departments does a COO oversee?

A. The COO mainly looks after various departments such as human resources, finance, planning, facilities/operations, development, and external affairs.

Q. What position is below the COO?

A. General managers are typically positioned beneath COOs in a company’s executive hierarchy. The general manager may report directly to the COO or to another intermediate leadership employee, such as an operations manager, depending on the specific tasks and responsibilities allocated to them.

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