How do you hire your first people to your startup?


I really wonder how do you hire your first employees if you were working on an internet startup alone. I really wonder if there are experienced people which started their startup alone and expand it. Here are the questions that i am willing to ask.

1) How do you find them, it is really problem for a new startup to find talented people. Why they would choose them since they are working on other companies. Other than salary i mean. Do you recommend to post to career websites, or use social media ?

2) Even you have found them, since you are not an enterprise, how do you keep the communication with your first employees?

3) If you hire a friend of yours to your company, would you get any problems with that ? Also, what are the tactical ways to convience your friend to work for you.

Or you think that each startup to be successful, should be founded by at least 2-3 partners?

Co-Founder Human Resources Team Internet Hire

asked Apr 6 '11 at 14:08
To Rr0t
69 points

4 Answers


There's no one right way, but the first hires are really important to your growth and success. Choose carefully and find people who buy into your vision and the long term opportunity. Here's my experience:

My first employee was my son who was looking to move back to town a couple of years after after college. It was a great transition for him and a huge help for me (not to mention the benefits of getting reacquainted after his living in another part of the state for the prior 6 years). The company doubled the 15 months he was with me, giving me the courage to replace him immediately when he transitioned to a company in his career field.

My second hire was someone I'd knew well and saw regularly. He was really smart, highly ethical, detail oriented, and tired of the travel required by his current company. I couldn't initially match his current salary but the opportunity worked for us both so he accepted my offer. Many years later we still work together really well, he's become a great friend and an important part of the company's success.

answered Apr 7 '11 at 01:48
Keith De Long
5,091 points


You want to hire someone who has "drank the Kool-Aid". You will want to look for people who are not risk-averse. Those who see benefits in building something from the ground up. That is part of their reward. They thrive in an environment where risk is part of the game. They may have a little entrepreneur in them also, but never could take the leap all on their own. If you hire people like that, you will feed off of each other. If you hire properly, your company truly becomes greater than a sum of its parts.

When you interview, pay attention to the questions they ask. Let them speak and ask the questions. You will learn more in the interview process if you let them drive it. You can learn much more about who a person is from the questions they ask, than any answer they will ever give. If you ask the questions, they will tell you what they think you want to hear. True character comes out in questions. Not to mention the fact that if you are founding a startup, you think your product or service is the greatest thing that ever existed. You should, or you will never succeed. But part of that is, if you do the talking you will spend all the time trying to sell them on working for you, and you will never find out if they should.

If at anytime they ask questions about vacation time, PTO, working hours, insurance or benefits, it is quite likely they are not the type of person that a startup needs. If they ask about stock options, profit sharing or IPO's, you might have a winner.

I also would advise you to hire slowly and fire quickly. With a few exceptions, I will freely admit that every person I have ever fired, was someone that I should have never hired in the first place. It was my fault, not theirs. They can be the most skilled person in the world, but if they do not fit with your vision, dreams, goals and culture, they will be a boat anchor you will have to cut loose. You cannot afford that right now.

answered Sep 13 '12 at 05:41
Need A Geek Indy
562 points
  • "If they ask about stock options, profit sharing or IPO's, you might have a winner." I was under the impression that start ups shouldn't hire people looking to _get rich quick_ and that you should be looking for people who have the natural drive and interest in the field – Logan Besecker 11 years ago
  • Well, both statements are right. You need someone who has natural drive and interest in the field, no matter if the business is a startup or old guard. That is just standard operating procedure. But you cannot hire just anyone for a startup. They have to have those qualities, plus they need to thrive in an environment predicated on risk/reward. When you hire people at a startup, you are typically not cashflowing yet. If you are not cashflowing, you are usually paying below market value. The only way to get the cream of the crop is to let them share in the (hopefully) eventual riches. – Need A Geek Indy 11 years ago


Find good people doing a good job in another related field and poach them with your awesome start up idea, your execution plan and your enthusiasm.

answered Apr 21 '11 at 19:39
Long Winter
271 points


People are motivated either extrinsically, or intrinsically. Intrinsic motivation is a much stronger force for getting team members to work.

1) You need to find employees that are intrinsically motivated. The money should not be the main reason for them to work for you. They should believe in what you are doing. People believing in what you are doing are much more motivated. We posted ads on startup sites. 2) Do not start a dictatorship. You have the ideas, ask them questions as long as they generate your idea on their own. Building something on your on motivates others. As a CEO your employees should take the credit, give it to them, don't take it for you. Watch this video on innovation/motivation: 3) Having a friend as a cofounder is good and bad. Good - you have lower costs for managing him as he has a personal relationship (Drug lords in Mexico make their chiefs marry their children to create strong group ties). Bad - if he is not performing dismissing is more difficult. My tip: Friends are in generally bad. If you still want to hire him be utterly convinced that he can and will do his job.

answered Sep 13 '12 at 05:08
241 points

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