SmartRecruiters Blog

From 10 to 100: Startup Style

We’ve all heard it, 9 out of 10 startups fail. Whether that stat is entirely true or not is debatable, but it’s the status quo everyone in Silicon Valley is talking about. One thing we can all agree on is that starting a business is NOT an easy task. Nevertheless, people try and try again and some succeed on a whole other level. With the odds working against you how do you take your startup from 10-100? These 10 companies have the answer. Believe in what you do. Hire the right people.

10. EAT Club: Who doesn’t love lunch time deliveries? Add local restaurants and goumet menus to the mix, you are definitely going to have a product that is in high demand (plus they promise it will be at your desk by 12:30! Yum).  Ousama Haffar, VP of Sales and marketing told me, “We look for candidates that are incredibly passionate, great team players and have outstanding problem solving skills. We knew it was the right time to hire because our business is seeing strong growth and customer demand that we couldn’t keep up with unless we had great talent.”

What we learn from EAT Club is don’t be afraid of scaling your startup.  To keep happy customers you need a team that can accommodate their needs. Emphasize quality, if you make a promise to customers, hire people who are dedicated to keeping it.

EAT Club Website


9. GigaOM: GigaOM gained their reputation and following based on their ability to be disruptive, current, and innovative. GigaOM says, “GigaOM is a new type of media company with a business model that leverages technology, transparency, and access to information. The company’s growth has been propelled by great writers, journalistic integrity, industry depth and audience engagement.” GigaOM went from one blog writer to a massive new source employing 139 people.

What we learn from GigaOM is you need to know exactly what you need when hiring. Yes, positions evolve and so will your business but there cannot be any confusion about who you need next to grow your business.

 GigaOM Website


8. Kaltura: Kaltura is the world’s first Open Source Online video Platform. This startup is a disrupter. Kaltura found a gap in the market and a way to move the industry forward. Their impressive growth could not have been accomplished without a stellar team that was ready to shake up an entire industry. Their social product requires a social and technically inclined staff, and they post job openings to Twitter and their blog, starting the hiring conversation

What we learn from Kaltura is, “fish where the fish are.” Take a look at the type of people you need and want to hire. Where do they like to hang out? How can you get their attention? Posting jobs to you social sites allows you to get in touch with a new audience.


Kaltura Website


7. Investing is now more socially and financially rewarding thanks to Their team believes in fair lending practices and providing opportunity. This startup needed a team that believed in changing the fundamentals of funding. CEO Stephan Vermut told me, “Borrowers and Lenders are quickly realizing the benefits of using a peer-to-peer lending platform like Prosper to meet their financial goals. As adoption of our service accelerates and we plan for growth, we will continue to stay focused on attracting top talent that shares our passion for great customer service along with creating the best products and experience in the peer-to-peer lending industry.”

What we learn from is to inspire people with a mission and they will want to work for you. Your product needs to be bigger than itself and solve a problem that people face. Websitejpg


6. Hearsay Social: Jerome Ternynck says you know you’ve hired, “the best, because there is no better.” How do you know they are the best? A successful track record. This Social Media Management system finds its business in improving conversations  and enhancing relationships between brands and consumers. Hearsay Social believes in hiring people with experience. For example they have a founding executive of Google on their team AND a product maven from Microsoft. For Hearsay Social it is all about pure talent and the ability to prove it.

What we learn from Hearsay Social is that giants in the industry become giants in the industry for a reason. Sometimes they are not always obtainable or realistic hires for startups, but there is ALWAYS something to learn from them, they are leading by example.

HearSay Social Website


5. Zirtual: Zirtual has redefined what it means to be someone’s assistant. This invite-only concierge service is about making people’s lives better.  Co-founder Erik Jensen said,“Zirtual grows at rapid but comfortable pace. We take a lot of pride in hiring talented individuals that are not only a great fit with our vision culturally, but are passionate about their endeavors outside of work—whether that be perusing their education, arts, family, etc. With the nature of a distributed, virtual work force, the more relatable and personable our team is, the better the opportunity is for us to create long lasting, meaningful relationships between our clients and ZAs.”

What we learn from Zirtual is don’t rush to hire, the costs of a bad hire are too high. You want the right people for your team. You don’t want people who are one-dimensional, it’s worth the wait for people who have a lot to offer and believe in your mission.

Zirtual Website


4. Pinterest: People who work here say, “Design is in our DNA. I mean our founder is a designer!” Pinterest invested in designers and developers that would propel their product to the next level. Consistently being recognized for unbelievable amounts of growth among its users, Pinterest is in the elite of fastest growing startups. Pinterest provides a visual pinboard addressing every aspect of each users lifestyle. Knowing that people are their interests are constantly evolving, Pinterest and their employees need to keep up to keep people coming back.

What we learn from Pinterest is to invest in every department, but emphasize the functionality of your product. What matters most is that what you are selling works. Hire the best team for the technical aspects so they build a product that inspires.

Pinterest Website


3. GoPago: I don’t know anyone who enjoys waiting in line, and GoPago capitalized on this fact. Their total payment solution allows you to order and pay in advance, so all you have to do is pick up. They cut out the nonsense, and their hiring process stays true to this. Community Manager Carina Ost says, “We have been able to scale rapidly because our hiring process is maniacally focused on making smart, quick, efficient hires. SmartRecruiters facilitates this fast paced hiring. We are not afraid of being aggressive and direct, and show our commitment to our candidates by giving offers fast and expecting a fast response.”

What we learn from GoPago is not to be afraid of being aggressive. If you’re looking to hire the best talent you’re going to have some tough competition. Don’t take a back seat in making the best team. 

GoPago Website


2. NastyGal: Imagine your business growing 500% each year since the time of its start? Sounds crazy, right? Wrong. That is exactly the path Nasty Gal has been on since it started as an eBay store selling one of a kind vintage pieces. With business growing as rapidly as they are Nasty Gal needs to be sure they are hiring an innovative team that’s not only passionate about clothing, but also insanely creative. Nasty Gal’s CEO Sophia Amoruso was a pioneer in social media retail, and she has continued to hire pioneers in her now globally recognized brand.

What we learn from Nasty Gal is that if you’re ahead of the curve your business will boom. You need to hire people that can keep up and stay ahead. Hiring people that understand your consumers is the best bet to getting a loyal following.

NastyGal Website


1. The Onion: The Onion is everyones’ favorite satirical news source. The best satire finds its strength in truths and it is not an easy type of humor to achieve it requires a highly intelligent, dedicated and creative individual. Katie Pontius, HR Manager says, “Our goal is to recruit and to retain the best. We’re constantly looking for people who align with our culture and can help drive the company forward. Our process is highly collaborative. Typically, candidates will meet with myself, the hiring manager, a few of their prospective team members, and almost always the President and/or CEO. All of our communication is centralized in our online ATS, SmartRecruiters. Hiring managers can log in and source resumes, read my initial comments, rank candidates – the works. This tool has been critical in rolling out our collaborative recruiting approach. Having a transparent process keeps everyone organized and informed, allowing us to make the best possible decisions when it comes to hiring.”

What we learn from The Onion is to empower your team and collaborate to ensure the best hire. Decisions on how to best grow your team should not be made alone. Using SmartRecruiters promises efficiency, inclusion, and amazing hires.

The Onion Website

In a startup, besides the BIG IDEA, hiring is the single most important task. Without an amazing team making your vision into a reality is impossible. When there are only 10 people in a room the affect of one bad hire will be felt by everyone and sometimes can be detrimental. Learn how these 10 startups built a great team, and you’ll be a thriving business with over 100 people in no time. 


SmartRecruiters is everything a startup needs to source talent, manage candidates and make the right hire. Post to the best tech job boards, connect to the best recruiters, search the best databases – all within the intuitive (and free) SmartRecruiters.  Image Credit Ely Tran.

Lexie Forman-Ortiz

Lexie Forman-Ortiz is the Community Manager at SmartRecruiters.