Thursday, January 20, 2011

Young Startup questions

Recently I was called to address a group of people called the young startups, people who are at an early stage of their entrepreneurial journey. Was happy to see a bunch of excited people who had lots of passion for their idea, the right ingredient to have in an entrepreneur.

One of the key question they asked me was around how do you hire talent into the start-up and excite them to join, and also more importantly where do you find them.

My simple answer to them was that all the people that you want to hire are in a way all around you, you are just not looking. In my experience of being part of start-ups, we have hired people from the most unlikely sources and have had good results, sometimes bad too. The problem most time is not knowing what exactly do you want in the people, and in a start-up most times what you want is people who are passionate, willing to learn and flexible to multi-task. Only for a few roles you need serious technical expertise and if you have not figured those out before venturing out then in any case you are in trouble.

I have lots of stories around how we hired very different kinds of people, people you interacted with in a hotel, at a party, at a wedding, your little cousin who you would never have imagined can be a great person in the company and so on. I had another panelist with me who had similar experience of hiring the journalist who came to interview him and many other such stories.

My simple advice to most young start-ups would be to not start putting up too many structured ways of working in the organisation because that may at times kill the passion or adventure that people may have signed up to enjoy. A start up has to provide a very different kind of an environment for the people so that they can leave their boring corporate stable jobs and basically come for a ride which have those elements of thrills, bumps, scares, enjoyment and all the kinds of amazing experiences that most corporate jobs fail to provide. Hence flexibility in everything is key and so is flexibility around hiring people who may not have all the technical skills but will be able to learn and contribute to the idea.