How do founders find the best talent for their startup?

Finding the perfect candidate for your startup in its first month is a lot like dating someone completely out of your league. There you are trying to poach the best talent in the market, but all you can offer right now is a makeshift office in your parent’s basement and a pay so low, peanuts would be unaffordable on it.

While other organizations offer country club memberships, learning budgets and international assignments, you offer your mom’s cookies delivered straight to your employee’s desks. Ha – take that!

But even if you have crumbs to offer on the surface, that doesn’t mean you can’t hire the best of the best. Our entrepreneurial community has some amazing tips to help you recruit and retain amazing talent in your team.

  1. Sell your passion, vision, and purpose

Most talented people who can easily find work and great opportunities are looking for something more than just monetary rewards – they want real purpose in their lives and their work to directly impact the world. If you are committed to improving processes or tackling large-scale problems through your product or service, share it with your networks, on your website, on job portals and social media and at events.

Daniel Strieder, CEO & Co-Founder of Cashpresso and an active Lama user, shares that hiring headhunters at this stage might be very expensive. In his experience, sharing his vision with his network proved to be most effective for finding future hires.

Daniel Strieder - Lama User

2. Partner with a leading university

When you start off with your startup, you don’t necessarily need full-time employees. Mario Arabov, co-founder of Lama app, actually suggests hiring interns who could potentially become your employees. Fortunately, the best universities in your city might already have developed programs that allow talented students to gain experience with startups. Many universities are deeply involved throughout the process and have internal supervisors to make sure that not only students learn but also contribute as much as they can to your startup. Many universities have these ‘career services’ where you can post about all internship opportunities at your startup.

Mario Arabov - Lama User

Invest time in selecting the first 5 employees

Do you spend a lot of time preparing for an investor meeting? Most of us do – that’s because we want to get to know the person who is willing to take a financial jump with us and make sure they know everything to make an informed choice. Interviewing the first few employees well is very important because these are the people who are investing their time and efforts with you for the next few years. They are letting go of other opportunities because they believe in YOUR vision.

So take this time to assess how their skills could help your vision and how your startup can contribute to their learning. Examine how a potential employee would respond when things don’t turn out the startup’s way. Be transparent with your hires, share your vision but also your immediate challenges. While startup founders have limited resources and time, we can’t stress enough how important it is to do due diligence and conduct background checks.

3. Search for candidates on the right social media channel, group or website

Let’s assume you are looking for the Amal Clooneys of the world. However, you keep hitting Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and get disappointed when you can’t find the right candidate for your startup. Put yourself in your candidate’s shoes and wonder where would someone with that intelligence and those skills spend their personal and professional time? Depending on what you are looking for in their profile, go through Linkedin, Glassdoor, Indeed, AngelList, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram.

One of our Lama users and Frontend Developer, Eder Negrete suggests using social media for recruitment because it shares a lot about the candidate. Their likes, dislikes, who they like to follow and retweet and how they respond when they are happy, angry or sad.

Eder Negrete - Lama User
Eder Negrete – Lama User


5. Look for remote employees

If you don’t have time to manage your staff right now, remote employees would be a great choice for you. Most freelancers are disciplined and can meet goals at the right time. Remote employees can be project-based or goal-based contributors to your team. Most remote employees or freelancers know that projects end and goals can change which means that sometimes it is also easier to end the contract if the relationship is not suiting your startup’s goals. Depending on which country the freelancer is based and their level of skill, it can also be less expensive to hire them. At Lama app, our team works remotely from Europe, US, and Asia.

6. Hire your diehard groupies

Ever gotten fan mail for your product or service? Or someone who spends a great amount of time using your product or sharing reviews with others about it? These are people who could really become the lifeforce of your production process. If they have the skills you are looking for, they could turn out to be some of your best hires.

7. Actively look for “diversity” in your startup 

When you are trying to build your team, look for team members who come from different social and economic backgrounds, opinions, level of expertise, experience, age brackets, gender, geographic locations and more. Once you have them on board, listen to their feedback and ideas. This tip will prove to be your biggest asset as you grow into a larger organization.

Do you need some more help hiring great team members for your startup? We’ve got expert founders who can guide you on every step of your team building journey. Download the Lama app and start conversing on any topic with our community.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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