by Cat Hernandez
For most startups, the path from Seed to Series A is rarely characterized as a smooth journey. As early-stage investors, we believe that two distinct challenges come up for every business as they’re getting off the ground, generally centered around establishing traction at some reasonable scale and establishing the right foundational team to help you get there. We created our Talent Program to help with the latter goal in mind because we believe great businesses are built on their ability to attract, retain, and engage the best talent in the marketplace. As we explained in the first installment of this series, the first step of that process includes helping company leadership think strategically about the who, what, why, and when of critical hiring.
Before we get into specifics, however, it’s important to define the term “foundational team”. While the exact size of a foundational team varies greatly depending on your business, the view we take on overall team makeup goes beyond founders and key executives. Regardless of your exact role, the common goal of foundational team members is to build a technically-sound and scalable product, not just a hacked-together side project. So it’s certainly not surprising, then, that engineers often form the backbone of this early team. It’s also why we focus many of our community-building efforts in both the Primary Expert Network and the Primary100 on experienced go-to-market strategists and principal engineering talent.
The emphasis on “critical” hiring challenges you to think about what you need within a more holistic framework. At the seed stage, we often find cobbled-together teams that, for many reasons, evolve a lot over the course of their first year of operation. So before you spend endless hours scouring LinkedIn for candidates who seem like a good fit on paper, take a step back and evaluate your approach to hiring. The best way to put together your foundational team is to think strategically about which skills you need and why.
At its core, accomplishing your critical hiring needs efficiently and effectively boils down to being able to clearly articulate what you have today and what you need tomorrow, all benchmarked against upcoming business milestones and key performance indicators. By taking a structured, thoughtful approach to critical hiring, you’ll be able to set up long-term recruitment strategies that will help you grow every part of your team with top talent.
Now that we’ve covered how to think about critical hiring for your foundational team, the next installment of our “Startup Foundations” series will cover exactly how to establish a more formal – but still simple – hiring process, including building a talent pipeline and how to balance selling versus interviewing. Stay tuned!
Cat Hernandez is a Partner at Primary Venture Partners.
Originally published at www.primary.vc