Amit Ashkenazi is VP Business Strategy at Fiverr, and also formerly a Partner at Viola Growth. This post was written during his tenure at Viola.
One of the main criteria for us when we look at a new investment opportunity is the makeup of the management team, their ability to execute a variety of responsibilities and to face the challenges of building a fast-growing, category-leading company. Even if the founding team seems impressive and promising, we always look deeper to see if they have been able to recruit great talent so far, because their ability to recruit top-quality talent usually speaks volumes about the trajectory of their company towards either success or failure.
We often encounter founders who reassure us that it’s “not a problem” for them to recruit talent and grow the company. They even brag sometimes that they are able to recruit good people cheaply, and that if they do on occasion need to recruit a “superstar”, they would simply pay 20% more.
In reality, however, enticing true superstars – who are always in high demand – to join your company, can be a formidable challenge, so it’s important not to take lightly a founder’s ability to not only identify extraordinary talent but also to recruit them.
Here are 3 examples of how your approach to talent acquisition can affect your company:
1. Greatness attracts greatness
When superstars are offered a new position, they often make an effort to look into you and your company. One of the things they attempt to ascertain is how well you have done so far at building a company that is widely considered to be “great”, because this is a good indication of how likely it is that the opportunity you’re offering will result in rewarding work and a hefty pay check.
One of their other main considerations is what their equity interest in the company would look like and whether there are feasible exit opportunities for it in the future. They check things like the market size, the technology, the existing competitive landscape, etc. They’re also likely to perform some sort of background check on you and the other executives in your organization.
In short, since there’s a very high likelihood that “superstar” employees will go to the trouble of performing an exhaustive due diligence on you and your company in order to help them decide whether or not to join you, their decision to join you is actually a validation not only of the appeal of your company and the opportunity you’re offering, but as investors, it also strengthens our confidence in achieving a great return on investment.
2. Knowing when to let go
Sometimes we come across founders who are certain that they are the only ones who have sufficient knowledge about the industry in order to build great company. These managers often micro manage everything, trying to be involved in every aspect of the business, and while a micromanaging style may work in early-stage startups, once the organization scales, it’s no longer practical.
Founding teams need to be able to let go of some of the responsibilities they don’t absolutely need to handle themselves, and let others call the shots even if they sometimes make mistakes, because that’s the only way for the next up-and-coming tier of managers to learn and eventually shine. By delegating to others, you also encourage leadership, which is essential for your company moving forward.
3. Laying the foundations to scale early on
In order to prepare your company to evolve into a category leader, you need to structure it in a way that can support the anticipated hyper growth that will inevitably take place. Getting great people on board early and letting them lead significant aspects of the business could lay the foundations for your company’s growth DNA. Eventually, these superstars will recruit other strong employees that will enable your organization to split into branches that will continue to split “in the image of their leaders” as the company grows (much like cells divide in our bodies), ensuring that the company scales in a way that fosters excellence throughout its entire fabric.
It’s also important for founders to note that sometimes even superstar employees with impressive résumés and credentials aren’t necessarily right for every company. When recruiting top talent to your team, they need to be the right people. So when the time comes to hire top talent, try to look beyond the fancy brand names they may have worked for or exits that may have taken place during their tenure at previous jobs to decide whether they would be a good fit for your company’s DNA and culture.
More posts by Amit Ashkenazi:
From Don Draper to Sheldon Cooper: The Transformation of CMOs
Why spending big to grow a company that’s based on shaky unit economics is a lousy idea
Everything as a Service (EaaS): Why eventually we might not need to “own” anything
Change Agents and how they impact new technologies
Raising money for your startup? Why you need to beware of inflated valuations
Love thy Competitor: Why competition can be a good thing for startups
Seeking a strategic investor for your company? Here’s what you need to know