How Do You Build A Great Founding Team?

The average age of the engineering team at my company was 44 years old. The engineering averaged 20 years of experience per engineer, and the engineers on average had 10 patents.

The team, by industry standards, was considered elite.

Now, I assume you want to recruit really good senior people, not just mediocre senior employees. Hiring mediocre senior employees requires no skill.

I think there were several key things we did to successfully recruit elite senior people:

A. Start with an elite founding team.

Really good people attract other really good people. That’s rule number one, rule number two, and rules number three, four, five, and six. Then…

B. Top it off with a dynamite VP of Engineering.

I was really fortunate to recruit an unbelievably talented VP of Engineering. He was a great engineer, a great manager, an excellent recruiter, and he had a good nose for business too. Then…

C. Pay the market rate for talent.

We knew we wanted an elite team of engineers, so we paid the going rate for talent. But we didn’t overpay either. (Read:Are You Being Appropriately Frugal And Why It’s So Important?) Then…

D. Don’t scrimp on the equity either.

Be fair with your equity. In fact, be more then fair, be generous with your equity. (Read: How Much Equity Do Your Employees Deserve?). Then…

E. Give your team work that is meaningful.

Really good senior people want to work on projects that are meaningful and interesting. Oh, and…

F. Make sure the work is profitable.

And by profitable, I mean the company will make money off the work. Senior employees want to make a difference, and senior employees don’t want to waste their time. This means…

G. Your business must be compelling.

You need to sell your potential elite senior employees on your plan. And the plan has to be exciting.

Do all seven of these, and, with a little luck, you will have an elite senior team too.

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