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  • Writer's pictureAnant Mishra

Why is it important to have a Chief Operating Officer in a start-up?

A chief operating officer, also called a chief operations officer, is one of the highest-ranking executive positions in an organization, comprising part of the "C-suite". The COO is usually the second-in-command at the firm, especially if the highest-ranking executive is the chairman and CEO.

The role of a COO

The COO mainly focuses on executing the company’s business plan, according to the established business model, while the CEO is more concerned with long-term goals and the broader company outlook. In other words, the CEO devises plans, while the COO implements them.

For instance, when a company experiences a drop in market share, the CEO might call for increased quality control, in order to fortify its reputation among customers. In this case, the COO might carry out the CEO's mandate by instructing the human resources department to hire more quality control personnel. The COO may also initiate the rollout of new product lines, and may likewise be responsible for production, research and development, and marketing.

How does COO help the start-up?

Internal Processes/Policy

The process that was running when you were 2 years old and with 20 employee strength may not work when you are 4 years old and have a total headcount of say 100+ resources., as a COO, they must keep a watch on processes, and this where the CI/CD comes in play, where they have to improve the process, understand the impact, define x/y and see the delta over the period of time, and find a solution that can be easily scaled and is sustainable in the long-run. I’ve seen people drafting and creating processes that are very hard to follow, are not self-sustainable, and no one enjoys following them, that’s where as a COO you need to identify and improve the process, ensure those are followable by everyone in the organization. The next point is about setting policy, this involves setting up the policies on all levels.

Talent and People Management:

Talent/People management is just not about hiring new talent or closing internal requirements or positions, but this also involves, taking QER (Quarterly Employee Reviews), understanding their problem statement, ensuring the attrition rate is low, and they have a growth plan, but not only this, you should be able to take a hard decision such as letting someone go., improving the overall experience for your employees, and so on.

Vendor Recruitment: Vendors are your plug n’ play team hence vendor recruitment is similar to hiring, the only thing is that this is much of a contract engagement., but still you as a COO will have roles here to play such as a Negotiations, Invoicing Schedule, Budgeting, Pricing, Terms and Conditions, Service SLAs, and so on

Internal Products and Projects: 

Your internal products and projects, and R&D department is where you see the company’s future is built, as a COO, you should be able to work with other managers, C-level executives and decision-makers to understand their needs and facilitate all that is required. The COO should also be able to define a high-level framework on how these projects should run, a little bit around the project management

Organisation KPIs, QBR: Depending on a company to company, along with Organisation level KPI and QBR (Quarterly Business Reviews) a COO may also be responsible for profitability and P&L accounts., (Unless you have a CFO). Remember that the role of a COO is to be an executor and integrator and when you execute and integrate things, you will have to also keep a close watch on how that is impacting your company from a finance perspective.


The leadership team should work as rescuers. Most of the time, I’ve seen, the top management making or playing a blame-game on what went wrong, who made it wrong, who was involved, etc, but (at least my management style) is to ensure, how that could be improved, and ensure that the problem or incident should not repeat again, maybe a have issue/incident register. The top-management should be responsible for both profits and losses, and not just the profits. Something goes wrong, the top-management blames the immediate next person, that person blames the other person and so on. As a COO, I believe, you should also define a framework, take responsibility and own the decision, and along with that set a good culture where the blame-games are not seen, no one loves BG. And that is where the thought leadership and mentoring capabilities are required.

The Conclusion

Sensor startup is inexperienced , daso aao can guide it properly and lead it to success. The COO being responsible for the operations is a key member of the organisation and a lot depends on him/her.

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