The early days of the startup are a difficult time when you feel like you are being pulled in all directions. This could either be the most exciting time in your career or perhaps the most doomed one. A lot of it actually depends on whom you pick as your early hires. Most successful SaaS startups in India started out with four or five members who donned several hats in the formative years of the company. Rumour has it that on any given day, these “Jacks-of-all-trades” could pull off product, design, finance and sales responsibilities with equal elan! We asked founders what they looked for in their early recruits, so you may have some idea when you hire yours!
We were a very small team for a very long time. We were probably 15 people two years ago. So, we were kind of in that phase of building the company where we only hired as many as we could fund ourselves and then we hired freshers. I think it is amazing that we try to hire freshers and build them up rather than hiring and throwing money at lateral hires. Since we are not funded, we have very limited options, and they work for us somehow.
We have decided we will never be a company with sales targets and sales incentives because that kind of corrupts the model and becomes entirely outcomedriven. So, we hire and give out salaries based on
WE TRY TO HIRE FRESHERS AND BUILD THEM UP RATHER THAN HIRING AND THROWING MONEY AT LATERAL HIRES.
– RUSHABH MEHTA
how we perform, rather than working the other way around where you target something and then aspire for that.
We have always been about building a team top-down as opposed to bottom-up. Bottom-up is also good at some point, but at the beginning, you think about building a team top-down. That actually makes it very interesting because you end up hiring the right leaders and then you can scale much faster because you are delegating a lot of that stuff that you need to focus on when you are smaller, and of course, you have to have the revenue to back it up because leaders come expensive. Senior people are expensive, but with the right kind of options and a mix and a network to go with it and the right values and the right value proposition for the company, you can hope to build it, and that’s what we did.
Startups have their own life cycle (not just contracts), and it needs to be managed. For us, when we started, the business needed:
(a) Good business analysts—people who could work with a customer to create a solution
(b) Good UX leads that could help build a great user experience, one of our differentiators
(c) Deep engineering expertise because we were building on a technology that was bleeding edge—Azure didn’t even have its name then!
The keyword here is “the business needed”, not what the founders needed! Our decisions were based on what our customers were looking for, and we hired for them, not for us! So that is where we started!