How to hire for your corporate startup

The hiring process is critical for any company, but for a startup, the level of commitment expected from a team is more demanding than anywhere else.

The hiring process is critical for any company, but for a startup, the level of commitment expected from a team is more demanding than anywhere else. Choosing the right person can dictate the future of your corporate startup so, how should you look at your hiring options beyond their qualifications and keep them motivated through thick and thin?

We believe these are the critical questions you should keep in mind during the hiring process:

  • “How will they fit in or promote company culture?”
  • “Will they help me achieve the goals I’ve set out? How?”
  • “What growth path do they see for the new venture? What support will they need to get there?”
  • “How can the company contribute to the personal development/growth of the employer?”

These questions will go a long way, especially when selecting candidates for leadership roles. Although their qualifications are important, you’ll have to picture how they will fit your business and if they will prove to be a champion for the team.

Here you have who you need to hire, in what order, and a few tips that we believe will help you build a winning team:

The Big Roles

CEO – Chief Executive Officer: Determines the company’s strategy, and hires and builds the senior team. CEOs think about where the organization is going, the people and processes needed to get there, and how they’ll work in the current market.

Men and women will inevitably have different experiences and backgrounds, which shape their approach to business. Challenging each other and collaborating with people who think differently can breed creativity and promote innovative ideas that push organizations forward.

CPO – Chief Product Officer: The CPO is a people person – a translator between different worlds, collecting requirements, ideas, criticism, and other feedback on one side and coordinating technical development on the other. Sets out the product vision, continuously validates it, and facilitates the lives of all stakeholders. CMO – Chief Marketing Officer: The CMO drives and unifies customer experience, brand purpose, creative communication, and marketing technology. This team member will focus on your customers and how they view your product/service. Should interact with your customers and act as an interim community manager to maintain positive relationships between your business and consumers. The CMO can work with the product manager to incorporate customer feedback into product development.CHRO – Chief Human Resources Officer: A CHRO will manage the HR department while focusing on the development of the organization and how to implement the right policies to ensure the company is efficient for the long haul. The right HR leadership can do wonders in leadership development, organization planning, and people analytics. Regardless of the team size, these four roles play a decisive part in the new venture, operating on a day-to-day basis.

The Venture Board

For many organizations, structuring, managing, and measuring innovation can be one of the firm’s most significant challenges. That’s when the Venture Board enters.

The Venture Board is a group of people in an organization that are in charge of a company’s innovation pipeline and are tasked with making investment decisions constantly. They operate as an added layer around the team, help ensure their success, and are established based on the definition of a charter and goals specific to the organization.

The Recruitment Process

New hires impact everything: product development, company culture, team morale, work quantity and quality, team capabilities, and the list goes on.

The first step in hiring the first employees for your startup is attracting talent – creating a company that appeals to top-quality applicants, getting your job advert in front of the right people, and getting them excited about the work your company is doing.

After having a poll of candidates, you need to go beyond the polished résumés, pre-screened references, and scripted answers, to hire more creative and effective members for your team.

  • Be creative. Every candidate will be prepared for common interview questions. Find new ways to understand how a person thinks.
  • Be challenging. Put the candidate in situations where they are more likely to show their true selves.

Who are the candidates in your selection process that truly believe in your vision and purpose? Employees who can see similarities between what you are doing and what they are doing are the employees who will likely be more committed to the cause, stick around in periods of crisis and be less likely to leave, incurring another hiring process.

Unfortunately, capable employers don’t grow on trees, but ideally, you’d love someone capable who’s happy with a challenging job and modest salary. And they exist! Some well-qualified people care much more about flexibility, a fun culture, or being part of a world-changing job. The more you understand each person’s drivers, the more you can craft deals that satisfy both parties.

Recruiting a CEO

Gender-diverse business units have higher average revenue than less mixed business units, presenting higher sales and profits than male-dominated teams. According to a 2019 study conducted by the Wall Street Journal, the 20 most diverse companies had an average annual stock return of 10% over five years, versus 4.2% for the 20 least diverse companies.

This data also reflects on women in high positions. Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women on boards financially outperform companies with the lowest number of women on boards. The 2020 Progress Report by MSCI shows that this representation has a relationship to corporate financial performance – more women on boards reflect higher productivity.

Final Thoughts

Incentives go a long way. The right incentives will help ensure long-term commitment to the success of the new venture, e.g. KPI-driven bonus models and equity shares. Timing is everything. Hire your team after you validate your MVP, but not too early in the discovery phase. By that time, you should have clear goals and a set direction to shape the job descriptions. Small starts. Leverage your internal resources and external partners for the first part. They’ll give you the flexibility you need to change direction and adapt quickly if required.


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April 23, 2021
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