Beyond the Pitch
Tips to Identifying, Attracting, and Hiring the Best Candidates
MavenView is a software company that provides a decision and strategic support platform to advance research out from the lab and into commercialization more quickly and efficiently by mapping science and technology related IP to potential commercialization partners.
MavenView CEO Nicole Weidner shares tips on the importance of hiring people who bring the right skills, an entrepreneurial mindset, and are a culture fit.
Rev1 Ventures: Tell us about hiring employee #1.
NW: I recently hired based on a burning need. In hindsight, I filled the burning need but not necessarily with the best long-term candidate. So, I learned a lesson there—that’s what the whole startup game is. Make a mistake. Learn a lesson. Move on and do it right the next time.
Now when I hire, I very much think through the process. Is this person the right candidate for the long-term mission of the company and our culture? Do they have the right skill set? Do we feel that they make a connection with us? Do they have the right chemistry to fit the organization long term?
After that, we go through the formal process of verifying education and employment, reviewing references and talking to people that know the candidate.
Rev1 Ventures: What is your philosophy on hiring for culture fit?
NW: First, know your own culture. Make sure your whole team of current employees understands your culture, that they know where lines are drawn, and that they are able to communicate that to every potential candidate. In a startup, employees spend a lot of time together—most likely more time than with their families—so it is really important to create an environment where people want to be together.
Rev1 Ventures: How do you attract the best candidates?
NW: One recent example is a young man we brought in who has a great background. He is the perfect fit for the company, but he could be making a lot more money than he makes with us. He came in, and I could tell by the sparkle in his eye that he wanted to be a part of this. He was excited about our opportunity, and I was excited about his enthusiasm. When you hire someone, look for that spark. In a startup, especially, employees have to share enthusiasm and passion. That’s the type of team that you want to build.
Rev1 Ventures: What do you do to retain top talent?
NW: Getting top talent is difficult in itself but retaining talent keeps me awake at night. I promise employees when they come on that I would always be transparent with them—that I would never put them in a position where they didn’t know if the company wasn’t doing well or if we weren’t getting the funding. I also ask that they’re transparent with me. I need them to be happy; if they are not, I need them to tell me what I can do to help.
Rev1 Ventures: How do you decide who to hire?
NW: It’s important to make sure you do the appropriate background and reference work ahead of time. I would never hire anyone that I didn’t bring in to meet the team. I always want the team’s feedback. It’s really important that everyone is bought in to give their opinion. I’ve hired on gut feelings before, and that doesn’t always work out.
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