Why Search for World-Class Talent When You Can Build It Yourself?

Why Search for World-Class Talent When You Can Build It Yourself?
From Recruiter - January 20, 2017

Article by Damian Wolfgram

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone in The Valley say the secret to success is hiring world-class talent, Id be able to afford world-class talent!

Telling a startup founder to hire world-class talent is like telling a teen from the inner city that the secret to success is getting a world-class education. Sounds great! But now what?

Its one of those all-too-common B+ comments that sound smart but leave you with zero practical stepsnot to mention the subtle fact that if world-class talent were in abundance, it wouldnt be world-class!

The fact is, in startup life, youre constantly trying to move mountains with shovels. You have to figure out how to do more with less. Punch above your weight class. This is David and Goliath.

Usually, the smart entrepreneur or venture capitalist will follow up the world-class talent comment with a slightly more passable one about hiring people smarter than yourself. Its true you should hire people who are smarter than you are, but not just smarteryoull need to hire people who complement you with knowledge in the domains of your most pressing needs.

Instead of hiring world-class talent, I want to encourage you to build world-class talent. Youhave to find the right people for your team, and you might have to look in unlikely places to find your diamonds in the rough. From there, you can grow aspiring talent into world-class talent.

Id like to give you some practical steps that will help you do this. But first, a quick story:

The Story of Blueberry Home

Our humble little startup, Blueberry Home, is now two years in the making. Weve been on deaths doorstep at least twice (a story for a different post). At every step of the way, weve been resource-constrained in every possible wayor so it seemed at the time.

But that was until we learned how to turn our weaknesses into strengths. Let me explain:

We did some things right. We assembled a strong founding team that was strong-willed, if not stubborn. We built a trust, mutual respect, and commitment to each other that will stand the test of time.

For the first 18 months, we didnt have the engineering to advance our product development dramatically. It was a real issue for a supposed software company! To build our minimum viable product (MVP), we relied solely on a strong, healthy partnership with an outside development firm, but the arrangement on its own wasnt a sustainable proposition. It meant we were burning through our limited runway.

Time and again, we struggled to find engineers interested in working for below market rates in a market salivating for their skill set. There were times when I was certain we were done because we simply couldnt figure it out. To make matters worse, we had trouble raising funds. Whos going to fund a startup without an in-house tech team?

It was during times like this that the aforementioned just hire world-class talent comment was possibly the least helpful advice I could imagine!

After trial and errormostly error on my partwe were able to get one engineer to buy in, then two, and now three. Our team is now shipping code regularly and making a massive dent in our backlog. It is very exciting to see our vision come to life. Weve managed to turn a weakness into a strength to the point that I now believe our ability to hire engineers is our secret sauce.

It is the stuff of legends. Im so incredibly proud and excited for our team, customers, pros, investors, and families (whom weve put through a lot).

Put simply, I view us as aspiring talent building a world-class team from the inside out.


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