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We hear about a lot of startups launching every week. Most of the entrepreneurs who have a vision for building some awesome product or providing a much needed service, lack the know-how required to build a solid team and an endearing business. One of the best source of knowledge is the experience shared by fellow entrepreneurs at platforms like Inc42 and others. Through this post I would like to share lessons we learnt while hiring at Medd.

To hire 15 people, we had to hire 35 and fire 20 in the last 2 months. It would have been considered an HR disaster, and we would have been fired in a bigger company if this was the case. However, I would like to argue in favor of such a ‘lean’ methodology for hiring in startups where you have to keep kissing frogs till you find your prince charming. And in this process do a lot of A/B testing and try to figure out an algorithm, a method in the madness, and try to replicate these methods more efficiently in hiring the next employee.

Startups exist not to make money or even to serve customers – but to learn how to build a sustainable business. – Eric Ries

So, what did we learn in hiring?

  1. Every person is different and may not share the same passion about the startup as you fire them! You absolutely need to have people who are a 100% dedicated to the cause, at least among your first few employees.
  2. You need to hire coders from the ‘top’ colleges like IITs – is a damn lie. Frankly, most bootstrapped/seed funded startups can’t even afford them. You just need one good person for computer architecture and algorithms, ideally a co-founder and the rest of the coders need to be hustlers who obsessively improve the details.
  3. Resume is just a piece of paper. Skills can be learned, but it is almost impossible to develop passion for something. Can’t emphasis enough – hire people, not skills.
  4. You need an MBA – no! Mandal in TVF pitchers was a right fit, not for his MBA degree, but his dedication to the team. The MBA that we have in our team is not because of his degree or experience, but because he doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty and is a 100% dedicated to the cause and team.
  5. Avoid people who don’t need the job. You will be tempted to hire people who don’t need the job – rich kids or house wives in sales who have brilliant communication skills, but the problem is they don’t hustle, and that is all that is needed at this stage.
  6. Hire fast, fire faster! interview a lot of people, if you feel there is talent, let them come and work for a couple of days and you will know if there is a fit. Don’t keep the weed though, it poisons your good employees, fire fast if people don’t show commitment and hustle.
  7. Use your network. There is no better source than your network, the network of those who join you. It saves so much time and effort.
  8. Download LinkedIn and Gmail contact list of each team member and send a ‘We are hiring’ mail to everyone they know using a free tool like MailChimp.
  9. Hire a brilliant tech consultant. Computer Science from IIT/ Stanford/ MIT will help you a lot with efficiency of your algorithms, and should invest in hiring someone brilliant for a couple of days or a week to sort out skills, and help you to know an outsiders’ perspective on technology, even if you have a brilliant tech team.

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Again. hire people, not skills. Can’t emphasize this enough.

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