Hiring is notoriously difficult for early stage startups. With limited budgets, and a lack of established processes and proof of market fit, fledgling businesses can be a tough proposition for the best candidates. very important for
For Glen Waters, head of early stage practice EMEA at Silicon Valley Bank UK, the quality of the team is “the biggest predictor of success.”
“Having the right people makes everything else easier,” says Waters. “Hiring and laying the right foundation is the hardest thing to do right and often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. ”
Here’s how and who to hire as an early stage startup.
Correct posture is far away
Founders should prioritize looking for traits and behaviors in their early recruiting efforts, says Waters. He cites a passion for the company’s mission, adaptability, tenacity, a positive attitude and, above all, a growth mindset as the most important traits in the pre-seed stage.
“Having the mindset and the right attitude is paramount. Skills can be taught, but mindsets cannot. “
“Having the mindset and the right attitude is paramount. Skills can be taught, but mindsets cannot,” he tells Sifted. “You need to be able to think and deal with growth so that you can handle all the challenges of being in a startup with ever-changing decisions and directions.”
For example, Paytrix, a curation platform, has stuck to this mindset when it first started hiring and continues to prioritize traits over skills as it grows. The business, which he raised in a recent pre-seed round of $5 million, now has his 25 employees across Europe.
Paytrix co-founder and chief product officer Eddie Harrison says he doesn’t have a set profile for the candidates his team seeks to engage with, but instead wants them to have intuition and an analytical mindset. Hire employees who will combination.
“We value people who can make decisions when information is scarce, but also people who can see patterns and make informed decisions,” says Harrison. . “We want people who don’t just want to make an impact, but who need to make an impact. What we’re doing is not incremental, so they’re comfortable making big swings.” I need people.”
Who should I hire first?
According to Waters, first hires typically fall into one of four roles:
- An operations manager who goes into a hybrid COO/GM position that can “run the business”.
- Salespeople who don’t mind “getting their hands dirty to find and close deals.”
- A marketing all-rounder who can “wear multiple hats with web design, SEO, and email.”
- A product manager who is “indispensable for a technology-focused business.”
But this is by no means a rigid list that every startup should follow. Passionfruit, a platform that matches companies with freelance marketing specialists, recently secured $4.3 million in seed funding and has grown to 15 employees today, and its founding team already has many of these skills. is provided. Instead, we prioritized hiring Customer Success Leads.
Passionfruit co-founder Raffi Salama said:
Build your structure as you grow
Out of necessity, most early-stage startup hiring processes can be conducted by founding teams without an actual set process or methodology. But as funding becomes available and businesses begin to expand, the pace of hiring accelerates.
“Quick hiring is the norm in a competitive labor market, especially if you have money to poke a hole in your pocket from funding. “
“In a competitive labor market, quick hiring is the norm, especially when you have money to put a hole in your pocket from financing,” says Waters. “We want to be seen as having a business plan in place, but the ‘hire fast’ mentality can lead to all sorts of problems, including a toxic culture. can also damage the reputation of the market.”
It is therefore advisable to implement a hiring strategy as soon as possible and formalize the process to avoid hasty decisions that could stunt growth.
Carolina Mem Correa, Patrix The product manager said the company has a consistent approach.
“The process has become more formal,” she says. “What started with phone calls from a few founders has now turned into phase one interviews, followed by technical phases, and finally a call with one of the founding teams. We have put in place a framework to ensure that the process is as consistent as possible for our interviews and that all candidates have a fair chance.”
Mischa Collins, marketing manager at Passionfruit, reports a similar formalization of the process. The essence of the process hasn’t changed, but “besides our two founders, there are more people involved. So the process includes more interview stages.” ”.
Diversify from the beginning
Both startups emphasize the importance of hiring diverse talent as quickly as possible. Salama said that “the greater the diversity of perspectives within a team, the better the bottom line business outcome”, so hiring people with different backgrounds and different perspectives is “wise.” “is.
At Paytrix, the team leveraged the expertise of one of its investors, VC firm Better Tomorrow Ventures, to help build the diversity protocol.the company has Members of the team tasked with supporting the recruitment strategies of portfolio companies; Audit job specifications and posts to ensure they are as comprehensive as possible.
“VCs can play an important role in talent acquisition. VCs can actively network and offer advice on team structure. “
“We are building solutions that are touched by consumers around the world, so we need a global, holistic approach to building our products. It starts with the people doing the building,” said Paytrix. Co-founder and CEO of
“I strongly encourage you to adopt a diversity policy from the start. “The longer we wait to implement these policies, the harder it will be to embed them.”
Waters says the best investors support portfolio hiring, fill knowledge gaps and facilitate expansion.
“VCs can play an important role in talent acquisition. They can actively network and offer advice on team structure,” he says. “Some he recognizes that VCs are also gaping and have talent features that help scale portfolios.”