I agree with Jay here. Ideally, you would want to hire someone who can be effective and valuable both as an early employee and when the company scales, but just like it’s difficult to find founders who are good at both starting and scaling, it’s also difficult to find employees who have such a diverse skill set. Given these constraints, I wonder if it’s actually better to hire for the immediate to near future, making sure you invest in helping the employee grow into the ‘scaling role’ as the company scales, but, at the same time, being quick and firm on pulling the trigger to fire the person if needed. Completely agree that hiring and firing the right people at the right time is what can make or break a startup. Great post!
Great post! I think two additional unique challenges that hardware startups face are related to hiring and the lengthy product development lifecycle. Hiring technical talent is tougher than in software startups because (1) often, you need great mechanical and electrical engineering engineers, in addition to software engineers, and (2) there’s not a tonne of hardware engineering talent out there. Also, the lengthy product development cycle makes it harder to pivot from mistakes. One approach that hardware founders often adopt is to include as many commodity components in their design as possible to reduce cost and avoid the capex involved in setting up an in-house machine shop.
Great post, Sarah! Having known you for close to two years now, I have often heard you speak very fondly about your former boss. I’m happy you have such a great mentor to look up to.
I really like the two hiring tests that you talk about here :
(1) How excited and passionate is the candidate for this opportunity?, and
(2) Would I want to have this candidate for my boss?
I think the combination of these two questions really hits the nail on the head when it comes to determine that fluffy thing called “cultural fit” with a startup. This ofcourse needs to be complemented with hiring for the hard skills and for well-defined outcomes or milestones, that Guylaine talks about in her comment.