Over the years, I have created a number of businesses across a number of countries but I recently realized that I had never taken the time to share my personal experiences beyond an official About Us page. I’ve decided that it’s time for full disclosure: to share what really happened when SmartRecruiters went Inc.
Warning: read carefully, there is a quiz at the end!
The corporate life of SmartRecruiters started on a sunny day of July in London. I was at the offices of Weil in the middle of intensive M&A discussions for the acquisition of my previous venture, MrTed, by Stepstone Solutions. After a smooth and easy discussion (as always), Matthew Parker, the CEO of Stepstone, and I agreed that I would spin off SmartRecruiters (my baby). I excitedly instructed our legal team to go ahead and incorporate the new company. The Weil team said ‘no problem’; all they needed to do was to quickly run the documents by Matthew’s lawyers, then the MrTed corporate lawyers would have to take a look, then they would have to review the documents again… and again… and again… Ironically, with our ducks in a row a few weeks later, it took us only one hour to physically incorporate SmartRecruiters in Delaware.
As soon as the acquisition of MrTed went through and the paperwork for SmartRecruiters was filed, I thanked everyone and took off for some celebratory sailing in Croatia with the family.
I came back in September, ready to change the world!
But wait… You didn’t really believe it was that easy, did you? There is always administrative work to take care of before one can change the world. At first I thought “No problem, I’ll just ask my CFO to organize this”. But wait… I don’t have a CFO anymore (or “yet” depending how you look at it). So here we go:
- California registration & Branch office in Poland (2 lawyers)
- Bank Accounts (with online banking please)
- Proper employment contracts (9 of us, 1 lawyer)
- Immigration visa transfer for 1 of us (1 lawyer)
- Equity Incentive Plan (and its polish version) (2 lawyers)
- Corporate Forms (NDA, MNDA, IP Assignment, Contractor agreement,…)
- Accounting and Tax services (can’t we do this ourselves?)
… and on and on
Ok, now let’s change the world! Oh wait… don’t we need a decent working environment for our start-up teams (beyond the garage)? I’ve heard “creativity is a function of how nice the office is” so…
We settled on a cozy office in San Francisco at 330 Townsend (note the strategic location for when the SmartRecruiters concept will be on fire) and on a cool workspace in downtown Krakow where the brains behind the software are sitting. It took some time to get everything in place (tables, chairs, printers, computers, signage, potted plants, coffee machines, pizza ovens, etc.…) but we got there eventually.
On to change the world! Oh wait… how about our IT infrastructure? IT what? Well yeah, we’re going to need servers, software, phones, emails, ftp, intranet, backups… I used to hate that part of getting started but now, luckily, in comes “Ze Cloud”! I watched what used to take months of set-up be compressed into minutes or days:
- Email, calendars, storage, and collaboration: Google Apps > 5 min (don’t know how we even worked before)
- Intranet, knowledge sharing, internal comms: Yammer > 2 min (I’m addicted)
- Hosting of our 4000 customers: Amazon EC2 > 1 week (Love it)
- Customer Support, Community, Idealab: Get Satisfaction > 2 days (now talking to customers 24/7)
- Telephone, Fax, Voicemail, Conf Calls, Videos: Skype > 30 seconds (and only Skype, no telcos needed anymore)
- Accounting, Reporting, controlling: Xero > 1h (well done guys, cool software)
- Recruiting: SmartRecruiters > 1 min (free & easy) (I had to say this ?)
That part was so cool, I’m almost sad that we’re done already.
And now the Quiz you have been waiting for:
How many lawyers are mentioned in this story?
A: none B: more than needed C: a lot more than needed
What did I do in the last month?
A: go sailing B: a lot of paperwork C: change the world
Well anyway, you get the point. We may live in an exciting and connected world, but if you’re out to start a company to change it for the better, expect to start with paperwork. Unless, of course, someone figures out a way to put paperwork and lawyers in Ze Cloud!
So now, finally, we can change the world! Oh wait… I still need to raise money 🙂
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