There is so much unpredictability that goes along with the startup journey, especially in the beginning stages, but Harold Hughes cautions about how important it is to create consistency in the hiring and evaluation process from the start. This allows for fair evaluation of potential hires and the roles they will play in the future of the company.
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One of the first big hires for Bandwagon was the software engineer. Because Hughes is not a technical founder, he knew he’d need outside guidance, but he separated the hiring process into two parts. First was aptitude—”from a technical standpoint, let’s make sure the person can do their job,” but the second part was not whether the candidate would be a good fit, but rather if they would provide an additive quality to the team. “So we don’t look for culture fit. We look for folks who are going to improve the culture of our organization.”“We don’t look for culture fit. We look for folks who are going to improve the culture of our organization.” - @OneBandwagonFan Click To Tweet
One of the biggest aspects of hiring that can hold budding startups back is preconceived notions about compensation. “Remember that at the end of the day you are building this company from scratch and so you don’t have to use some boring compensation plan.” Hughes recommends adopting an approach of employing multiple flexible terms, including:
- Deferred compensation
- Base salary plus bonus
As long as you are in talks with a candidate open to flexible terms, the more options you offer, the higher your likelihood of bringing on the person that you truly desire for that role. During the event, Hughes will go through the most effective compensation tactics to help land the hires of your dreams.
When it comes to the hiring process, Hughes believes in patience, with an eye towards long-term possibilities. “Timing is everything, especially when it comes to building out your team,” Hughes explains, “and you never know when the career arc of your ideal candidate, and the needs and resources of your own company will be matched up. So when you find an amazing person that you’d love to work with always stay in touch with them, reach out to them, consider adding them to your investor update list, or your stakeholder list so you can continue to massage and build that relationship because you never know when the timing is going to work out.”“Remember that at the end of the day you are building this company from scratch and so you don’t have to use some boring compensation plan.” - @OneBandwagonFan Click To Tweet
While this might sound like straightforward networking, for Hughes this is not so much about increasing the overall size of the network, but rather the depth of specific relationships with people that you’d like to see in very key roles in the future.
Hughes credits his “always be courting” philosophy as critical to the success of hiring the company’s current COO, Bärí Williams. Hughes had become aware of her almost from the same time as founding Bandwagon in 2016. And while he had added her to a list of people he’d dream of working with, when he met her in 2017, he knew better than to make that ask, feeling that he could not offer any sort of comparable salary.
What Hughes did do was stay in touch, keeping connected with Williams on Twitter and adding her to investor updates. In the end, Williams ended up reaching out to Hughes about a potential role at Bandwagon.
In the pre-seed and seed stages capital is always going to be limited. It can feel like a Catch-22 when it’s necessary to have a winning team to show your company’s value in order to raise that capital, while having so many restraints on building the initial team.“When you find an amazing person that you’d love to work with always reach out to them, consider adding them to your investor or your stakeholder list so you can continue to massage and build that relationship.” - @OneBandwagonFan Click To Tweet
At the upcoming Founders Network event, Hughes will go into depth on all the ways in which a startup can build the team they need with limited resources. Join Harold Hughes at Founders Network for actionable takeaways on all aspects of hiring including:
- Creating a process and sticking with it
- Being creative with compensation packages and plans
- Always be courting
If you’re an early stage founder you won’t want to miss this critical advice that will show you how to assemble the dream team you need to progress. Register now or request an invite to see if you qualify for membership.