How Do I Hire The Right People For My Startup?

At StartLabs Ventures we believe that constant education is essential, that’s why every Tuesday we tend to have Tuesday Talks – a closed event for our portfolio companies, where we welcome people with different professional backgrounds for an hour long talk and some discussion.

Few days ago in StartLabs offices we had the pleasure of welcoming Ana Milicevic. Ana is a serial entrepreneur from New York working as startup advisor, consultant and digital media expert.
At the very beginning of our talk the one question arose and shaped the further conversation:

“How do I hire the right people?”


When you say “startup” there are several words that come to mind: ‘ideas’, ‘tech’, ‘funding’, ‘money’…however, ‘hiring’ is usually not in the top 5.
On the other hand, when you are recruiting for a startup, the word and the problem become much more significant.

As Ana explained, this is not a question related to a region or even a continent, this is an universal question, to which the majority of startups can relate to according to her rich experience.
How to attract people with great skills to join your startup company, rather than a big corporate one?

These days, startups are hip places to work in and one can use that as an advantage.
But, besides being a hip environment, what do startups have that they can use as their “ace in the hole” and what should be your first steps? Ana gave us several advices.


If you have the time on your side and not a lot of money to offer, make yourself and your company likable, become some kind of “magnet” for the potential employees – organize an open house, talks and events. Show people the laid-back atmosphere, company culture and ethics, introduce them to their potential colleagues – make people hooked on the idea. Make them want you, even when you don’t need them.

If you don’t have the time, but you have money to spare, you can go effective & expensive: hire a recruiting agency. This way, you wouldn’t have to spend your time searching for the perfect fit, somebody else would do the heavy lifting for you.

If you have the time and patience – the best choice would be to hire final year students for internships, invest the time and the knowledge to train them and in the process try to make them a part of your company in every way. Yes, there is always a possibility that at some point they would want to leave, even after you invest in them, but that’s the risk you have to be willing to take.


What can you offer to the people you find right for the job?

If you are in the US, stock is an expected compensation to accompany the (usually not so high) salary. However in majority of Europe, stock is not yet recognized as a norm or the customary way of compensation.

Except salary you can offer your prospective employees some other benefits, possibly applicable only to your company – certain culture, opportunities, out-of-work activities…


For recruiters:
The timing is very important when you are trying to “catch” people to join you.
Be wise, and look for people who have been in one company for 2-3 years, because there is a
higher possibility that they would be looking for other options when they hit 3 year mark.

For startup job seekers:
If you looking to join a startup, timing is once again very important. There are 2
recommended options:
Join startup early enough – this way you can have some equity stake
Join company that call itself “startup”, but has 100-150 employees and can offer you good conditions with startup vibe!

To sum it all up, there are several important things you should decide on from the beginning in order to make the hiring process as smooth as possible. However, all your steps will be heavily dependent on how much time and money you will have for the whole process.
At the end of the day, have in mind that a good fit doesn’t always mean hiring someone who is exactly like you, but rather someone who is different from you and can bring new skills and views that can help the company to evolve.