So you’re starting a tech company? Here’s how we hired our first 10 employees.
Just under a year ago my co-founder and I started JStar, a company that makes a smart home AI product called Josh.ai. We’re now 13 people with a great product covering AI, NLP, IoT, iOS and Android development. Frequently founders ask my advice on finding great developers. While I’ve tried a number of routes, below are the actual methods used that brought this great team together.
1. Personal network / last company
Let’s start with the beginning: finding my co-founder and CTO. Tim was a friend and advisor to my last company, we literally spent years getting to know each other. Here’s an article I wrote on how to recruit a technical co-founder that’s worth a read. We had many mutual friends, mutual interests, and built a relationship over a long period of time before deciding to work together.
I worked with Jason and Atticus at my last company, we’re friends, and while timing didn’t work out immediately for both of them, we stayed in touch and over the last year ended up working together on JStar.
I knew Nader and Sara more socially than anything else. Technically I met them both through one of my former investors. Nader was working on his own startup for the last few years. When I heard he was moving on we quickly chatted about him joining the team. The rest, as they say, is history.
I absolutely love recruiting through AngelList for two reasons: (1) it’s a hotbed for great developers, (2) it’s free! You can filter by location, keyword, education, and more. I was a little skeptical about AngelList in the beginning, but ultimately it’s where we found Michael, Nate, Panthe, Aaron, and Tim M.
To get the most out of AngelList, set up a good company page, create a compelling job listing, and then treat it like a dating site. You need to reach out and break the ice more often than not, but the accounts are real and the results don’t lie. Be prepared for a lot of rejection, but recruiting is a numbers game and AngelList has been great for us.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried using LinkedIn to recruit. I’ve certainly had many conversations with great developers via LinkedIn, but at the end of the day none of our first hires came from here directly. That said, I did come across Mohammad, pictured above, via Instagram’s Discover tab, reached out, and ultimately connected on LinkedIn before meeting up. LinkedIn is great for looking up mutual connections and doing homework on candidates, but from my experience it’s not the best way to recruit.
While I’ve tried a number of other routes, for the first 10 hires this is a method I can honestly say works and would execute on it again. Your results may vary, but I encourage you to try what worked for me. Good luck building a rockstar team!
This was written by Alex Capecelatro, Co-Founder & CEO of JStar. Previously, Alex was a research scientist for NASA, Sandia National Lab, and the NRL. Before that, Alex worked at Fisker Automotive and founded At The Pool and Yeti. Alex has an engineering degree from UCLA, lives in LA, and likes to tweet about AI, Startups, and Design.