March 18, 2022
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4 minutes

The Power of the People: How Recruitment Can Get You VC Money

Recruitment

Turning the heads of venture capitalists is just one step of many in your journey to fund your tech venture. And one of the most effective levers for raising VC money is your assembly of top-notch talent on your team. Why? Because having the right team proves to investors that you have the potential to hit the market.

The potential of a venture doesn't just come from the product you're building, but also in the people who help bring it to life. The power of the people is what lets your venture get on its feet and perform in getting to market.

But what makes hiring so hard right now is the shrinking talent pool as a result of the hottest candidate market we’ve seen in over 20 years. So to help you snag high-calibre talent, we’ve outlined some startup hiring tips and best practices to form the dream team. 

How to recruit talent for a startup that’s VC-worthy – without falling into the common traps 

Get picky with the founding team

Your first order of business as a founder is to define what roles you actually need. As in, the ones you can’t fill yourself and will probably (definitely) sink without. These folks are typically your product or engineering officers.

Contrary to popular belief, not every startup needs a CEO. In most cases, one of the founders becomes the CEO as a natural byproduct of being there and making executive decisions. But don’t get hung up on titles; focus on what you need to accomplish over the next year and assess when it’s the right time to bring in someone now versus later.

Whoever you hire will set the tone, pace, and culture of all other hires that follow. So take the time to get the composition of these players right. Rushing this process could lead to a bad hire and ultimately waste time and money.

What to avoid: Hiring founders who are just like you. Instead, look for people who diversify your team’s skill sets and domain experiences, and cover your knowledge gaps. 

Why VCs care: Investors want to see competent founders with proven track records, so make it worth their while by assembling the right mix of technical and experiential skills with the grit and intensity you can’t teach.

Branch out: leverage your network 

Sometimes the best candidates aren’t even the ones who are actively looking – and that’s part of the beauty of recruitment. When you find someone who’s incredible for a role but the timing doesn’t seem “right”, don’t let it deter you from keeping the connection going. Your best bet is to warm up your referrals, put word of mouth to good use, and stay proactive. You’ll be surprised how they can eventually come around.

Slowly opening up your talent search nationally and even internationally can also help you cast a wider net of qualified candidates. 

What to avoid: Spray and pray technique of posting on any and all job boards, without a long-term strategy in place.

Why VCs care: Investors talk. They’re a network that can generate early buzz about companies they’re excited about. And although they may care less about the later hires, they’re still interested in seeing your team grow in size and diversity, which emphasizes the value of your company’s vision and potential.

Create opportunities for career growth and professional development

Beyond the job description, candidates in tech want to feel challenged. That’s why it’s important to offer opportunities to take initiative, step into leadership roles, and have the ability to learn more and explore their niche.

Candidates are often attracted to roles for their innovation, but they’ll stay long-term for the diversity and scale of their responsibilities. Offering mentorship with senior staff, opportunities for advancement, and training are just a few of the ways to help team members learn and become better for it.

Common mistake: Not recognizing talent for their contributions and potential, and not mapping out career advancement.

Why VCs care: Investors want to see startup teams that can do the work, demonstrate potential, and evolve positively throughout time. Achieving milestones, gaining early traction, and establishing product-market fit are all signs of success they’re looking for, ultimately pointing back to the team’s professional ability and growth.

Give them a problem worth solving

Recruitment isn’t just about filling roles or ticking off boxes. It’s about giving people on your team a worthwhile promise of solving something meaningful together and creating an impact. With the competition so fierce across the tech market, maintaining buy-in relies heavily on your company’s unique mission and vision.

Whether you’re setting out to fight the status quo, better the lives of Canadians, or unite disparate communities and economies, you’ll need to communicate a long-term vision that others believe in, especially when the going gets tough.

Common mistake: Having a vision that’s short-sighted, unclear, or that’s too niche and doesn’t resonate with others.

Why VCs care: Your vision is the idea you’re selling them on. Investors need to be convinced that it’s achievable because you have the right people to see it through.

Don’t underestimate the power of the people

Building the right team can help you secure VC funding and give your startup the launchpad it needs. Download our e-book on Recruitment for Startups and Tech Companies to find hiring tips for your recruitment strategy.

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