Post-Funding Startup Recruitment (1/3)

You’ve got the funds? Time to Talent!


Recruiting is hard. I’ve done everything from corporate recruiting to agency recruiting to some weird type of recruiting in the middle of the two, but no matter which angle I go about it, I come to the same conclusion: finding and attracting good people is a challenge – a very competitive and often expensive challenge, especially in hot startups hubs like Silicon Valley and Amsterdam.

I began my career at a very early stage startup in Silicon Valley where I had no idea what I was doing. I had never heard of an ATS or a post interview roundtable discussion. I basically tried to reinvent the wheel in my first few months. Whoops.

I later realized that many Founders today have probably found themselves in the same boat I was in. Not to knock recruiters, but I highly doubt most entrepreneurs have come from a long career of recruiting. So I decided to ask them about it.

I spoke to several startup Founders from Amsterdam to Silicon Valley with the intention of extracting all I could from them in regard to their hiring experiences in the early days of their startups. With the information I gathered and my own experiences, I’ve come up with 5 P’s that will (hopefully) make recruitment a bit easier for all of us.

Let’s begin, shall we?


It is up to the Founders to decide what the culture of their company is going to be. After each new hire, the company culture is affected for the better or worse. Usually for the better, but not always. One person can bring down an empire. I’ve seen it happen.

Ruben Daniels, Founder of Cloud 9 (San Francisco / Amsterdam), advises Founders to consciously decide on what you want your culture to be and hire people that fit into the culture.

Do you want to have an office where employees come in wearing flip-flops and t-shirts, or do you prefer a more straight-laced suit-wearing atmosphere? Do you have a 9-6 mentality, or will employees have the freedom to choose their hours as long as their work gets done? Will employees be encouraged to speak their minds, or do you prefer a company structured in a more hierarchical way? There’s no right or wrong, but it is up for you as a founder to decide and to hire people that fit.

Use your network…

So now we have the cultural aspect down, but where do we find the candidates? This one is tough, but most would agree that you must USE AND GROW YOUR NETWORK to find good people; use current employees, investors, partners, supporters, grandparents, whatever.

It’s simple – ask people for help. For all you know your grandmother’s bridge partner could have a rock solid son who absolutely kills it in Frontend Development… Maybe.

…but not too much

Satyam Vaghani, Co-Founder of PernixData (San Jose, CA), has expressed a downside to only hiring from within your own network. Why? These people have a similar background, beliefs, etc.

He says hiring people from outside of your network not only brings a diverse perspective to the company, but their joining is a stronger validation of your idea/vision (plus, their perspective can also be very helpful for finding mistakes in engineering earlier on).

He also claims that in the early days, Founders will (and should) spend about 70% of their time recruiting, but that’s for you to worry about!

Be & Hire Humans

The last thing I’d like to mention are words of advice from Quentin de Metz, Co-Founder of PriceMatch (Paris [acquired by Priceline in 2015]). He advises Founders against underestimating an Engineer’s communication skills.

It is crucial to find smart people who can code who are also social human beings – especially in the early days. A social engineer is much more likely to have a network for you to tap into and they will contribute to the company’s culture.

Now I’m sure you’re dying to begin reading the next four P’s, but let’s face it, you probably have better things to do than read one blog post for a half hour. But if you’re up for it, have a look at the last two parts of the series:

Post-funding startup recruitment (1/3): People

Post-funding startup recruitment (2/3): Process & payment

Post-funding startup recruitment (3/3): Perks & Product

Happy hunting (I hate this saying, but it does seem appropriate)!