I was fortunate enough to talk with Amity Sims of The Founder’s Institute, the World’s Largest Startup Accelerator, and am happy to share the hiring advice they give to the companies they fund.
1. Why are great people the most determining factor of a startup’s success?
Great people are a vital component to any company; however, the degree to which employees fit in and contribute to the company’s culture is what really makes the difference. Of course you’ve got to have a stellar team to execute your vision, but at the end of the day, culture is what will keep your employees engaged and committed to the end goal.
2. What is the Founder’s Institute?
The Founder’s Institute is the world’s largest early stage startup accelerator that helps entrepreneurs launch meaningful and enduring technology companies. After launching in 2009, they have helped launch over 750 companies in 40 cities across 5 continents, and is on pace to launch over 1,000 companies per year in over 50 cities worldwide. With the help of local experts, founders partake in an intensive four month program, where they are expected to incorporate and launch a technology startup before graduation.
3. What advice would you give a Founder making his or her first hire?
When making your first hire, it’s imperative for the employee to be on board with your vision. Startup life can be challenging, with long hours, little or no pay, and the inevitable roadblocks along the way. To get someone excited about making the leap and joining your team, you’ve essentially got to sell yourself and your goals. Make them see the bigger picture and get an understanding of why you are passionate about the business and how they can have a meaningful impact.
4. What should a Tech Founder consider when choosing their organizational structure? (Is it time for another designer? Another programmer – always? that First Salesperson?)
It depends on what the founder’s personal strengths are. If their background is in business, they should look for employees with technical skills, and vice-versa. Your immediate goal is to find people who complement your skill set and can fill any gaps.
Tip: Don’t begin building until you’ve tested your market! Talk to customers to find out if people actually want your product and if they would be willing to pay for it.
5. How important is passion, personality and attitude when making startup hires?
Establishing your company’s culture should be your number one priority. Without a strong core culture, it will be difficult to execute your company’s vision. Your first step is to define your company’s core values. Once that is established, you will want to make every company decision (including hiring) with it in mind.
Skills can be learned and perfected over time, but having a team player that embodies the company’s core values is invaluable, especially in the long run. You can hire the best programmer on the planet, but if they aren’t a good fit for your values and your team, their skills are of little value.
6. What’s the one sentence core of your advice when advising Founders How to Hire?
Hire employees that will be able to execute your vision and make decisions just as you would.
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