A few reflections on hiring our first ten employees

A year ago Fashion Metric was two people, me and Daina, working out of our apartment in Marina del Rey. Now we’re a team of nine, and we’re not done building the team. It has been an incredible journey and I can tell you that we’re still learning every single day.

Fashion Metric Team

Daina and I have put an incredible amount of time and energy into hiring what I think is fair to say is nothing short of a dream team. This has been a dream of ours and while it has been a huge challenge, I think we have really honed our skills when it comes to finding talented passionated people, and Austin has been a great city to do it in.

Since I know there are many startup founders that may have just raised a round of financing and are building their initial team I wanted to share some tips that I wish I had read a year ago. I’ll keep it short and sweet and pretense this with the fact that I haven’t done this before and I’m definitely not an expert, I’m still learning, but I love sharing what I learn.

  1. Avoid recruiters in the early days –  recruiters aren’t bad people and I know many startups that have found great people through recruiters. That being said, we tried a number of recruiters and found that for hiring your first 5-10 people they just aren’t going to care as much as you are. They also won’t be as good at qualifying people with specific skills. For example, we needed someone with data science experience, but specific machine learning skills and that might not be in the market for leaving their job but open to having coffee to talk about the opportunity. People like this would have told a recruiter to take a hike but they’ll meet a founder for coffee, and if you can get them excited, you might just land an incredible team member.
  2. LinkedIn is your friend, your best friend – I never really appreciated the value of LinkedIn, now I do. It takes a lot of time and research to find the right person for an early team. We look for a lot of things from previous companies they might have worked at to specific job titles and skills. There really is no better tool than LinkedIn and you’d be surprised at how many people will respond if you keep your outreach short, and if you’re not a recruiter.
  3. Culture fit is critical – for each open position we interviewed a minimum of five candidates. In some cases we found amazingly talented people that fit the requirements perfectly, they made it through two or three in-person interviews, but then when we introduced them to the whole team and saw everyone interacting, it was clear they weren’t a fit. This is a hard thing to determine and we got a lot of advice on how to understand culture fit both during the interview process and when you see someone interacting with the rest of your team. It is so important since your initial team needs to really gel since you’ll most likely go through many ups and downs together.

Of course these are still the early days for us, the journey is still beginning, and I couldn’t be more excited!

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Michael July 14, 2015, 9:18 pm

    Cool Cool thanks for this advise Morgan! I will have to play with LinkedIn a little more. Your team looks young what age group are looking for?

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  • Growlific.com July 14, 2015, 10:10 pm

    So true on finding the right team member. No matter how talented, the chemistry has to be there to get a team firing on all cylinders.

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  • Morgan July 14, 2015, 10:27 pm

    We have a wide range of ages, our Director of Data Science is in his late 30’s, me, Daina, Key, and our CTO are in their early 30’s, and then we have some amazing software developers and a great biz dev intern that are in their 20’s.

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