Hiring in a startup is hard. It is hard because:

  1. Startups are fragile, thus not providing the job security that many people strive for;
  2. Startups are frugal, thus unable to offer the cash that one might expect in a corporate; and
  3. There are not many stories out there about how other startups crack good hires.

Through this story, let’s move a step closer to fix the point #3 above.

We had hit the holy grail of achieving product-market fit (finally!) a few weeks back and the time arrived to expand the team beyond just engineers. Till now, I and my co-founder Prasang were busy partnering with brands. Once we understood the complete process of getting a brand partner on board, we decided to clone ourselves and hire someone who could get more brand partners.

When AngelList didn’t work

Like always, I went to AngelList and posted a job announcing that we were hiring a Manager for Partnerships at Horntell. Like always, I anticipated my inbox to flood with applications. Like always, there was no flood in my inbox. I realized soon that posting a job on AngelList and sharing it on my Facebook profile won’t cut it — especially when the compensation mentioned in the job post was defined as a combination of just-decent cash and high equity.

I’ve personally believed that a good salesman is always a great storyteller. That night, I couldn’t sleep and kept wondering how we could get such a storyteller to join our small team.

To be a seller, be a story teller.

The Lightbulb

As I lay in my bed trying to sleep, my younger brother barged into my room yelling, “There’s a Pokémon in your room!”

With his mobile phone, he located a Pokémon near my book-shelf, threw some Pokéballs to catch it and yelled with joy, “Caught a Zubat!”

Immediately after, he left my room, leaving me dumbfounded. Besides astonishing me, his act also sparked a thought in my mind. To hire a storyteller, I need to be a storyteller myself. And the hero of my story was to be a Pokémon!

The Experiment

Next morning, I woke up early, rushed to my office, opened my laptop, and using the webcam started recording a story — a story for storytellers to join us.

A Story for Storytellers

The video did what that job post on AngelList couldn’t. My friends forwarded the video to their friends, referrals started pouring in and my inbox was soon flooded with applications of quite a handful of really good candidates.

My co-founder and I got busy talking to all of them on phone and finally zeroed in on three candidates. We were to meet them face-to-face to finalize who will be our storyteller.

In the end of this experiment, the person who joined us in our journey used to have the following email signature at his previous company.

pokemongo-horntell

Why did he join us?

In our meeting at a coffee shop, I asked why he might be interested in joining Horntell. He said, “Your experiment shows I’ll be allowed to tinker around and do my own experiments. That’s the kind of place I want my creativity to be nurtured.”

And that’s the kind of person we wanted to have with us. We sealed the deal right there with a handshake.

Now, with an ever stronger team, we march forward to catch ’em all. ?

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