Outside of having a strong founding team and finding product market fit, hiring the right people at the right time is crucial in helping scale both from an operational and product perspective. I have spent the last few months recruiting for a product role at OpenFin and have learned a quite a lot through the process. Note that I have previously blogged about getting a job at a startup, but here are some more points to add from both sides of the table.
Here are some of the key considerations when looking to hire new blood from a startup’s POV:
VC Approach: The best way to think about your hiring strategy is to think about how VC’s approach investing in startups. With any new hire you are taking a risk and investing in them with the hope that they will come in and add value to your product and thereby positively impact your valuation.
Timing: It is very difficult to get the timing right at an early state startup. Growth stage is different and its obvious you need to hire to scale. Hiring at an early stage is not as clear–it’s very easy (and makes sense financially) to keep pushing on with the current team and just take on more responsibility. This may not be the best approach if there is talent out there that can help your company and product–it’s also difficult finding the right balance so you don’t drive your team into the ground. The best approach is to determine if you can scale without any additional headcount. If you believe you can then go ahead, but if there is any doubt it may be best to explore the talent out there. If you get it right you can end up scaling a lot faster than you could with the current team.
Always be looking: The management team should always keep an eye open for talent, even when you aren’t actively hiring. We are always recruiting and have met same amazing people along the way, some of whom we who we will hire as we grow. It is very easy to get caught up in product, testing, customer dev, etc and ignore the talent search. Doing this also helps build relationships and a talent pipeline that you can turn to or open up to other startups that are looking for good people.
Nature of the role: Although it may be difficult to do, you need to clearly define the role in the short and long-term and make sure the current team is aware of this new role. Defining the role will send a positive message to the team, provide comfort and security in what they are currently doing and you will come across as organized and serious to both your team and potential candidates.
Network and Involvement: As I have written before, the best way to find a candidate and for a candidate to find you is through a warm introduction and relationship. Most agree that this is the best approach and candidates who are vouched for by those you trust will almost always get more consideration over others. One thing we like to look at is also how involved he or she is in the startup community. Do they attend meetups? Do they have a blog or online presence? Do they show a deep interest in the industry? Have they built a strong reputation in the community?
What are some other key considerations?