I am looking for advice on building the team

Lucas E Wall

November 7th, 2013

I am looking to build the second line of command and want to hear your experiences on bringing people on board.

How do you motivate them, sell the vision, etc. What works? What makes people say "I want to be part of your project"? What are the parts of the package you offer?

Ben Nader Founder & CEO at Butterfleye Inc

November 7th, 2013

Hi Lucas,
By no means I am an expert here, but I have been going through exactly what you are asking for the past month or so. Connecting with people actively, trying to sell them the vision of the company and get them interested to join. Here what has worked for me so far:

1. Of course you have to be genuine and passionate. I am really excited about the idea and startup we are building. (I left my safe corp job for it just recently) I talk a lot about what the product is, how did we came up with the idea, etc. I am genuinely interested to talk about the product and the problem it solves.

2. Always split it into two meetings. I never ask on the first meeting anything about joining us. Part of the first meeting is about showing how excited I am, what the product is, and how it solves a real problem. The second part, I listen. I ask questions and listen to what are some of the interests of the other person. Where they are in their lives, what is the current job situation, etc. Trying to get a sense of what would get them excited outside of financial rewards. 

3. If the first meeting went well, there will be few email exchanges between us in the following days. Within next 7 days I ask for the second meeting. In the second meeting I ask if they want to be part of this vision, this company. 

4. Always try to create a win-win situation. And If I don't think it is possible I walk away. Definitely there is financial reward, but the more I do this, the easier I can spot people's non-financial interests. (Simple stuff, People want autonomy at their job, people want growth, people want to be part of early stage startup vs go work at FB or Google with a very fix/define role.. You have to spot those on the 1st meeting)

5. Don't get stuck on one person in a way you have to have them. Everyone and every skill is replaceable. Don't force it. If you don't see a win-win scenario possibility simply walk away. 

It take time but you almost can't rush or force it
Hope this helps

Aravind Nirmal Kumar Formally Informal

November 8th, 2013

Ben has echoed all my views too :)

Rob G

November 8th, 2013

Lucas;  "...second line of command..." ?  first off if you are planning to hire people in the US i would change that wording/thinking.  If you come across as the "commander" you will have a tough time finding people to join your startup even if you over compensate with $$.  People want to know they are joining a team, not a military squad. People have to like you, trust you and feel inspired by your passion, vision and leadership first and foremost.  they also need to connect with your vision for how they can help make a difference - what role they will play, the autonomy they will have, support, etc.

2. what positions/roles are you looking to fill?  I presume you have some soft of priorities - tech?  sales? marketing? from a quick look at your LinkedIn profile it appears your startup has something to do with financial analysis for small businesses?  SMB is a tough market in general...

3. a passion for the space.  this likely goes without saying, but target people who already have a passion for your business space.  If one is not passionate about cooking, for example, you will have a tough time convincing them to join your "we teach online cooking" startup. If you are selling financial planning/management tools to SMB then you will need to start with people who are passionate about finance and SMB. 

 4.  Realistic numbers: without a doubt one of the most powerful tools i have used to attract co-founders as well as first round employees is a sound presentation of the numbers.  You should have an advantage here given your background, but realize that not everyone you will talk to is passionate about numbers - bring the analysis to their level.  This comes after a confirmed passion for the space, a clear connection with you and your personal management style, etc.   early team members are no different than investors (they are just investing a different form of capital - their time) and as such they need to know how you plan to get to a point where the company will make $$.  Unless they are an accountant they don't necessarily need to see every detail, but what they do need to see is that you have done your homework, that the numbers make sense and are in fact conservative and their role in achieving those numbers. 

5. Only after they 1) have a built-in passion for the space, 2) can connect with you personally (your leadership style, communication style, trust, etc.) 3) know that you have done you homework and the numbers not only make sense, but are conservative and understand the plan for how you will develop, sell and support your product/service, do you then have a basis to talk about compensation. Unless you have deep pockets and are prepared to pay above market rates in which case you can disregard much of what i have said above. 

Mark Piekny Engineer, Consultant & Entrepreneur

November 8th, 2013

I would add to Ben's nice list and additional point: Have a clearly defined probationary period (dating), where it's understood there are no commitments, only 2-way expectations.

Lucas E Wall

November 8th, 2013

These are very good recommendations, thanks Ben, Aravind, Mark and Rob.

Really like that you numbered the ideas!

Quick followups.

Rob - Agreed with the "commander" comment. To summarize, the vision of "hiring" per se does not apply here, it is more about building a team through partnerships. What you say about passion and vision is also very true, just tested it this week with positive results. I like also what you point about having shared passion/expertise on SMB.

Ben - How do you get people in front of you? Do you advertise in your website? Do you post on Indeed? Simple networking?

Ben Nader Founder & CEO at Butterfleye Inc

November 10th, 2013

Hi Lucas

No advertising from my side. I am meeting everyone through my extended network and reaching out to friends of friends and asking if they know or have worked with someone that may have the skills we are looking for.