It was my first visit to LaMakaan after the near-closure! And as the above photo (of the speakers & organizers post the event) depicts, the energy at the Headstart Startup Saturday event "Startup Hiring-Making it a cakewalk" -was infectious!
The event had representatives of the entire local Hyderabad ecosystem- Venture Capitalists, Startup Leadership Program, startups (funded, and aspiring), wannabe entrepreneurs, students, service providers. And for varied selfish reasons-networking, finding a co-founder, or perhaps talent to scale up, and interestingly, to intern and get jobs -and compare notes...
It was a no-brainer-post getting funded, the biggest pain point for most seemed to be hiring-and yes, retaining the best talent.
The format was very interactive. First a bunch of starts up shared their travails, and experiments with hiring. Followed by a panel discussion with a bunch of experts-who have been there, done that -and sharing their two pence.
Rajat Shahi from Hackmania shared how they not only found their co-workers through hackathons, but also (courtesy online and offline hiring), they are hiring individuals/teams for startups across the premier colleges and Tier II institutes by screening freshers. The convenience of filtering, and getting to test/evaluate/simulate technical skills helps to sieve out the best- was driven home!
Vikas from O-Mitra ( in the business of making our train travel more memorable& convenient) shared his mantra- sourcing experienced programmers from startups- that were closing down! In contrast to 'unreliable interns' and 'part time corporate employees moonlighting', he finds the breed more amenable for taking ownership and delivering as per the stringent demands/deadlines that a Startup culture thrives on. He was candid that hackathons were expensive -and depended on the networking and referrals grapevine to make his best hires!
Praveen from ZenithPlus -found recruitment consultants a drain ( often having to pour through 80 resumes to find one hire), as the candidates referred often never matched the passion desired. After a few experiments, he seems to have found that he gets the best out of college students (he has a bunch of student ambassadors who evangelise in different institutes ) -who are encouraged to be sign up for a paid 2 day training workshop and do live projects-that allows him to identify the right talent.
Rahul had a more practical (inside out) approach to hiring-as he dwelt into his short professional career before plunging into entrepreneurship. He had left a lucrative MNC campus job he had-because he didnt have enough scope for professional learning & growth in a large organisation . "The first 5 hires have to be aligned with the founders vision". Being in the non-tech domain, his company is in the business of innovative products (he took pride to point out he was not just another food tech outfit!), a lot of his success was also dependent on hiring the right blue collared workers (delivery boys) and Chefs. Here " Behavior is more important than skill. And so it is imperative that there was internal compatibility.. and so hired teams -who- were 'aligned among themselves' and they acted as magnets for attracting similar folks." "Hire ahead of time".
My takeaways from the interactive and candid sharing of experiences from the experts were as below
Subbu was clear in setting expectations "Employees will work for your vision-and not live your vision" and so need to be rewarded. Period. But added, 'money is secondary if handled properly'. He shared a very good example where they had recently hired 25 interns for a rural ecommerce project-(that involved a lot s physical hardship covering 300 villages in 2 months) from a tier2 MBA college-by selling the vision, and attracting those interested -at stipends at half the market rate!
Bharath was more candid..'there is no secret sauce in hiring-the focus ought to be on execution'. With the demand supply inequality, his mantra is in 'creating one's own supply' and shared how they seeded many training institutes and training the trainers to get the necessary pipeline. Also felt that theFounders ought to be 'hiring constantly' - and advocated spending atleast '25% of the time in hiring'. Paid campaigns on Facebook have been rewarding-but the best hires have been from the referral network. "Hire capable people..to attract more capable people'.
Max -the foreigner Venture Capitalist-visiting India for the first time-had his fundas right- "hire young programing genius". Simple. Focus on 'how many hours did the youngster spend on coding every day'. And yes, "catch those youngsters before Google and Microsoft find them" It seemed a no-brainer for him, as he confessed ' the number of people under 30 years of age in India..is 21 times that available in Japan"!
Well, for a person who came from a culture of 'lifetime employment, it was indeed the reflections of the #futureofwork. For me, the learning was awesome, as more than ever, it is about the changing aspirations of professionals today. And there was certainly no one size fits all. No shortcuts. One needed different strokes for different phases. And enamoured by Bharath's confession-'hiring a marketing pro is 10x times more difficult than a tech hire'.
The mandate for third party recruiters is clear-not just find the talent the clients cannot find themselves, but engage and influence them.
An alert for all internal teams/hiring managers depending on 'just-in-time hires'-it is probably postponing the problem. Maybe Warren Buffet had a point to drive ."No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can't produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant." Touche'!
Also, in any case I did share my resolution for 2016, amongst a bunch of business partners -my intention to change gears. While all the while, the emphasis was on playing the game, and being in it, and perhaps -not to lose, this year I will make conscious attempts to hustle even as I wait..and play to win!!
For this post, I will be taking cue from three thought leaders I follow
b) Dave Nerz has articulated it so well that it is a different game when employers offer options 'that employees want versus the one they want to leave'! More so, as we recruiters have to be sensitive to