Eric Ries is keeping a blog called Lessons Learned where he discusses the application of formal rigor and process to all parts of a startup. Today I missed my stop on the train because I was engrossed in his post about hiring. I thought that if the post was good enough for me to (almost) accidentally take the V train to Queens, then I should probably blog about it!
Eric spends a great deal of time in this post talking about when to hire (answer: when a bottleneck exists not when you’re annoyed that you’re doing 18 different jobs at once) as well as how to hire.
The latter is extremely important and an area in which many startups underestimate what it takes to recruit the best of the best.
For example, it’s not enough to post to a mailing list and say something to the effect of (and I see this all the time):
I’m a business person with a great idea set to turn the XYZ market on its head, looking for a tech cofounder to join for equity (read: no pay) and help us build a prototype which will then be used to help us pitch investors.
Besides the working for no pay thing, there is no attempt to convince the audience of tech people you’re hoping to recruit why you are going to lead the charge, attract investors, and help create a breakout company. There are so many business people looking for tech people that you need to go the extra mile…
You need to get out there and recruit.
Get on LinkedIn and identify the top people in the market you’re going after, find out how to get in touch with them, and pitch them on your idea. Get them excited about what you’re doing. Even if they’re not willing to join you, oftentimes they’ll be willing to help you connect with other individuals who could be helpful as well. And if they aren’t willing to come work for you and don’t seem particularly interested in helping, maybe you need to work on your pitch. Keep in mind that hiring (especially hiring people out of positions they’re comfortable in and that they like) is sales, plain and simple.
Your ability to recruit could impress potential investors. As an example, I recently met with a company where the founder (a 1st time entrepreneur) was able to recruit a very well-known individual to join his team. This person arguably was a perfect hire and a perfect match for the company’s mission. We didn’t end up investing in the business but this was one of the reason these guys got my attention.
In any case, take a peek at Eric’s blog post, it is well worth reading, especially if you’re building your core startup team.