After a company finds product-market fit and has raised an A Round, it usually starts scaling the team aggressively. This is a critical time: you have already shown that you’re on to something; now it’s all about executing that business model at scale. And that means you need to grow the original team, while keeping the same magic that took you from an idea to Series A in the first place.
We have seen many of our portfolio companies go through this process through the years, and here are some of the best hiring practices that we have seen develop over time:
Make top of the funnel a key priority
Hiring mostly boils down to hustle and you need somebody to build the top of the funnel. This means that your first and most important hire is an internal recruiter or recruiting team. This isn’t necessarily someone with a traditional HR background – rather think about aggressive, outgoing, data-driven people that can quickly build a large top of the funnel hiring pipeline. This person (or people) needs to be 100% responsible for the hiring pipeline.
For senior hires, you may want to use an outside recruiter. But all other hiring should be driven internally.
One of the dangers at this stage is that there’s so much pressure to scale up fast, you can end up lowering your hiring standards. You can start thinking that a particular candidate may not be perfect, but there’s so much work to do that adding someone is better than no one at all. But the reality is that the wrong person and wrong culture fit can significantly degrade motivation and team dynamics.
It’s important to stay picky, no matter how fast you need to scale. We like Amazon’s “bar raiser” program where select employees can veto any candidate, even for positions that are completely out of their area of expertise. Bezos has said this program helps weed out culture misfits and ensures good hiring choices.
Scale the onboarding process
For the first 10 to 20 employees, onboarding can be done on a case by case basis. But this approach won’t work when you need to hire 10+ people per month. Spend some time crafting the proper onboarding process that will guarantee that your new hires will immediately understand the company vision, mission, strategic goals, core values, etc. Without a good process in place, you will end up with a disjointed organization that lacks the original alignment of a smaller team.
For those of you at earlier stages, you are probably focused on finding product-market fit or your first 1,000 or 10,000 customers, rather than worrying about any of the challenges that come with scaling. But it’s never too early to start thinking about implementing the right processes that will ultimately help your company grow without losing its focus and culture.