Today I wanted to write a different kind of post. Working at a startup is very exciting, but can also be very stressful. Typically you’re trying to create a product that no one has seen before, and you’re doing this with uncertain convictions and limited resources. This can be a very stressful environment.
At Josh.ai, we understand and respect the demands of being flexible and multidisciplinary. We have a world class team carrying out a world changing mission. Last year, our CEO wrote a post that talks about hiring, and I wanted to write a followup to this — directly from the battlefield.
Many VCs and Angel investors will often say that they don’t fund companies for the idea. Instead, they fund companies for the people. YCombinator is known to do this: they might accept people to the program that don’t even have an idea. They want to give those people an opportunity to find out what they’re capable of. So what do these people look for in a team?
It’s hard to be objective about this, but if I had to pinpoint the reason that the Josh.ai team works so well, I would say the reason is trust. Trusting your teammates is essential if you want to succeed. There are so many things going on in a startup, and when you have a team trying to get that startup off the ground, you have to trust that your teammates are doing what’s best for the company. Everyone becomes a family.
Culture fit is something you might hear a lot when interviewing. Some people think it doesn’t really matter, but I think it matters a lot. When you find people that share the same end vision with you, it becomes a lot easier to know that they’re doing what’s best for the company. Culture transcends just work though. A great culture fit involves hanging out after work because you genuinely like the people you work with, throwing each other birthday parties, sharing stupid memes and coming together around social issues. A strong culture fit turns a group of employees into a family.
And when that family is focused on a unified mission, the results can be incredible. This is exactly what’s happening at Josh.ai. I can confidently say everyone on the team shares the same vision. We’re not just interested in voice control in the home. We believe that voice is just the first step. We have a larger interest in intuitive interfaces and natural machine interactions. This includes concepts such as machine learning, spatial recognition, and augmented reality. Hiring people that understand and can contribute to that vision is essential.
2017 so far has been off to a great start. We’ve added a number of new team members and have more than doubled the Josh.ai user base. There is no doubt in my mind that our growth and future success will be directly linked to each member of our team.
We also very much understand that in order to succeed, while great technology is important, great service is just as important. In order to provide great service, you need to have a team of people that shares and believes in that same idea. Our engineers are around outside business hours and weekends in case something needs attention. If one of our customers is having an issue with an install, we’re happy to hop on a plane to provide support in person if needed. We wouldn’t be able to achieve this level of service if it wasn’t for a coherent culture that our team believes in.
It’s been great to see the excitement and interest in Josh.ai. We look forward to continue pushing the boundaries of what is expected, and delivering a product that delights the end-user. Building such a product from the ground-up is no easy task. Good thing we’re all in this together.
This post was written by Benji at Josh.ai. Benji is on the Business Development team. Prior to joining, Benji worked in product strategy for Sonos. Outside of work you can find Benji eating at new restaurants, cycling throughout Los Angeles, and woodworking. Benji graduated from UCSB in 2016.