'We Don't Work 24/7 or Subsist on Ramen': Building a Startup for Grown-Ups

'We Don't Work 24/7 or Subsist on Ramen': Building a Startup for Grown-Ups
From Recruiter - October 13, 2016

Lets play a game of word association. What comes to your mind when I say startup?

If youre anything like me, youre probably picturing some fresh-faced grads in hoodies lounging on beanbag chairs orcoding late into the night. Maybe theyre sipping some craft beer from the on-premises tap. Maybe theyre taking a quick break for a round ofMario Kart.

This may be the general cultural consensus around what startups look like, but its not an accurate portrayal of life at Highfive, a three-year-old Silicon Valley company that sells a hardware/software combination system designed to make flexible work and remote conferencing easier.

We dont do keg stands, says Shan Sinha, cofounder and CEO. Wedont have all-night ragers or 24/7 expectations.

Instead, Sinha says, what Highfive has is a startup culture for grown-ups.

Not that Sinha looks down on your typical startup or the young people who tend to staff them. In fact, Highfives 70-person staff includes many 20-somethings who fit thestereotypical demographic profile of a startupemployee. The ages of Highfives staff members range from early 20s to 40s and 50s.

Rather, Sinha simply finds a startup for grownups agood handle for his companysmore laid-back and family-friendly culturesomething that arose out of necessity.

Startups Are for Everyone

We created Highfive in Silicon Valley, where theres a lot of noise about and attention on the typical startup companykids out of college starting something new and building the next social media app, for example, Sinha says. When we started Highfive, we realized there were a bunch of things about it thatdidnt really line up with that narrative for us.

For starters, Sinha and his cofounder Jeremy Roy knew they wanted to focus on B2B technologyNot necessarily the sexiest thing, Sinha says with a laugh.

Furthermore, Sinha and Roy had already been around the startup block a couple of times, having foundedtwo prior companies that were both acquiredone of which by Google. They were at later stages in their careers and lives thanyour archetypal startup founder.

We knew what it meant to build something from scratch and run a startup, Sinha says. And on a personal level,unlike the situation I was in with my last company, with Highfive, I had gotten married. I had one kid, and my wife was pregnant with our second. My cofounder and I had families. We werent going to be working around the clock or subsisting on ramen noodles.

It was these two factorsboth the product they wanted to make and the personal circumstances of their livesthat made Sinha and Roy realize that they needed to stray from the ideal recruiting narrative you tend to hear about for startup companies.

We knew we were going to end up recruiting a different type of person, Sinha says. We knew we were building hardware and software, so we needed to attract people who had done it before. This technology is not for the faint of heart. Its not just another application. So we needed to recruita lot of peoplewho were further along in their careerspeople who also had families and responsibilities and obligations [outside of work].

Sinha and Roy decided that the logical step was to build a startup for grown-upsthe kind of place that would attract the right talent by making sure their needs were met.

We wanted to attract the best people in the world, and the best people in the world are at all different points in their careers, Sinha says. They have all different sorts of backgrounds and experiences.


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