“I just got an email from an engineering prospect who has decided to turn down our offer. We put so much time and effort and passion into recruiting him. He decided he wants to go off and start his own company right now.
I think more and more startup CEOs (and hiring managers) are figuring this out. At least, I’m telling every one I meet – for technical talent, you are not competing against the other startups in your neighborhood. Or even ones doing the same thing. Or startups in general. You’re competing against the awesome developer doing their own thing.
The cost of booting a startup is trending to zero. In the 90’s/early 2000s, you’d need massive capital investment (servers, networking, etc.). I can spin up a Heroku server for free (or a series of AWS for nearly-free). I have super-powerful development environments (Ruby/Rails, Clojure/Lighttable, whatever) that are free or nearly so. Great infrastructure (Postgres, Unicorn, whatever) – free!
All I need is a product idea and a vision and I can bootstrap my company. I can charge money on day one without needing a business checking account, LLC, and all that.
What does this mean for you? As a startup founder, you are competing against a person owning 100% and running the show as they see fit. This is a completely different power dynamic and one that is going to be the new normal. You really need to have your stuff completely together in order to get the best people. It’s very hard, but possible (I advise founders how to do that all the time).
I’d also caution against “this person needs to be passionate about my idea or we won’t” hire them. I see that all the time, too. Look, it’s your baby; it’s going to be very difficult to get them to love it as much as you do. Figure out what this person wants out of life (their career, whatever) that you can provide that they alone cannot (work from home, presenting/attending conferences, learning new technologies, mentoring, leading a team, education, building their personal brand, whatever). THAT’S how you get them. Constant tending to their needs and giving them opportunities to further their growth is how you KEEP them.
What value are YOU bringing to the table other than an idea and some cash?