LESSON #2: HIRING WELL IS CRUCIAL TO SUCCESS
It is no secret that great people build great products that get great customers and go on to build great companies. The difficulty, however, lies in the search for and assembling that capable team.
“Ultimately, hiring is all about getting the right people at the right time. In the beginning, especially, the challenge is building a company can be very fluid and you have to be adaptable to changes in future needs,” tells Zehan.
“And as a founder, you are always either hiring or selling (you can think of hiring as another form of selling).
Finding and recruiting talents isn’t easy, and it certainly helps to use all available channels from LinkedIn, existing networks, events as well as leveraging external help such as from recruiters.
That said, doing the outreach yourself can have its own merits and is more likely to get you a response from potential candidates (as opposed to recruiters who are often ignored).
You can find candidates in the most unexpected places. For example, I happened to be into climbing, a sport where it seems a large majority of them work in tech, and one of my early hires was someone I met on the climbing wall.”
“As for the aged-old dilemma on who to hire – should you go for the experienced hire, those fresh out of universities or college, or those who are in their early careers – there’s no one answer.
You need to factor in what sort of talent contributes to the core value of your business and how easily you can find junior vs senior folks, as well as the skills / role you need to achieve your objectives.
For instance, back at Magic Pony, we were laser-focused on building a deep learning-based solution and were prepared to take time to get to product-market fit.
And so, given that deep learning was nascent back then, we hired certain PhD graduates fresh from academia as they were a good option when it came to finding people who had hands-on experience with the family of machine learning methods we were interested in.
While we didn’t have to compete as hard on salary, we offered them a good amount of equity and it was still crucial we sell them on Magic Pony’s mission and an opportunity to put years of research knowledge into building new, practical solutions.
Twitter, on the other hand, was a lot more complex – they had built up a solid reputation when it came to web/mobile technologies, but did not have a very strong reputation when it came to machine learning.
Candidates would also have higher expectations of what they got out of working at a large tech company versus a new startup. Beyond just pay, we had to consider career prospects whilst also conforming with standards around career ladders, levelling of roles, as well as pay bands across the company.
There is no magic bullet. The stage your company is at and what your company effectively does should form the bedrock of your hiring strategy, but you should look at hiring as a key way to add value to your company and not just people to do jobs.”