Ready to hire? How to find a founding team

Nov 9, 2015

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

Did you know most startups fail because entreprenuers don’t put together a strong working team? It’s not about ideas or investment capital: It’s about people.

This development team is the one that will define the culture of the enterprise later. And consequently, the day-to-day work environment.

You’ve heard that “Everything starts from the founders,” but their first employees have major impact on the success of the company as well.

Based on what we've learned these last 6 years, we'll share the consolidated lessons (successes and mistakes) when it comes to hiring our first human resources.

1) Consolidated experience

The first aspect and, personally, the one I consider most important is focused on the previous experience of the candidate that presents to us.

Startups don’t have a lot of time to teach employees how to work – and we can’t afford to wait months or years in order for an employee to produce efficiently.

An startup exists in a constantly developing context. The value of our project is found in what is done day by day which turns into innovative services that we'll sell to generate our first clients, and consequently, our revenues to keep on growing.

One of the key characteristics we look for in a candidate’s experience is the ability to start from scratch and generate a finished and successful product.

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2) The only constant is change

At a startup, change is always in the air. This might be easy to roll with as an empire of one, but in selecting a team, it’s important to keep in mind that your candidates need to be people who can withstand change.

For example, if your candidate has years of experience but has always worked for huge companies like HP, Dell, Microsoft, Google, or Adobe, he will be used to having structure and corporate procedures already in place.

Working at a startup requires a special kind of ingenuity: the ability to bring structure to an unstructured environment and thrive. It also involves the emotional ability to bear a certain amount of risk: no startup is a sure thing.

Freelancers tend to make excellent start up candidates because they are essentialy their own startup and used to bearing risk.

3) Learning on your own

The capacity for self-education is paramount when evaluating candidates for a role at your startup. She must be able to learn on her own.

Startups generally don’t have the capital to hire subject matter experts for every aspect of the business. This means employees have to be ready to learn and take on a number of hats.

The best way we have experienced until now to spot that capacity in a candidate, is to ask him how she learned to program, wheres he got the information from, how she learned where to apply it and when, who was her teacher if she ever had one, and how she plans to continue her education now and in the future.

The ideal candidate learns by persistence and trial and error.

Finally, don’t discount chemistry. Chances are you’ll be working with your new employees very closely. Building a new company is a journey and there are sure to be bumps in the road.

If you find someone likable, emotionally healthy and posseasing the qualities listed above, you’re on your way to taking your employee count from one to many.

Engineer Cristian Ángel Rennella, CEO of eMT and assistant at Catholic University of Cordoba. He is passionate about the development of technologies based on artificial intelligence for developing countries.