Imagine you’re a startup co-founder. You are running a killer stack in node.js on the front and back-end with Mongoose, Redis, Hadoop, jQuery, Express, and your team is running so fast they test on their local machines and push straight to production. You’re migrating from Heroku to Joyent and you’re split between the two, new releases are pushing out weekly and the site is screaming. Then it happens. Investors freeze pre-christmas and 2012 is coming to a screeching halt, so the core team finds side work…which becomes full-time work. No problem, your co-founder is a bad-ass coding cowboy with a golden hat, but wait… he’s found a passion, a big passion and opportunity for something he just can’t pass up and it’s not your company. So as a lifelong friend who believes in doing what you love, you tell him the only rational thing you can say: “it’s ok do what you love… I got this”. But wait. The last time you had to code anything was in 1999, meaning having to find and hire an entire tech team from the ground up…immediately.
This is my story over the past 3 months. It’s not a sob story. On the contrary, it’s a story of excitement, passion and personal growth. I saw it as a huge opportunity to utilize the system we built in Geeklist and become my own case study. Here’s what I did.
Step one was to identify all of the skills needed to keep the site running smooth so that no user ever felt the changes.
I needed a stable front end engineers, a solid back end hacker and some full-stack node.js rock-stars sprinkled on top. Easy enough, right? Well if you’re in tech and you’re hiring anyone you know it’s hard. If you’re hiring on the node.js stack the qualified candidates dwindle even more… or do they? I immediately posted this job post on Geeklist:
In less than a day I had over 30 replies by amazing engineers from around the world. What amazed me most was that most of them have been Geeklist users for over a year and some were even our very own ambassadors. Right under our nose.
Step two was to consider the value beyond financial for developers to want to work with Geeklist. Even though we did have a few new investors and revenues began to kick in, It wasn’t not enough to pay for everything or everyone we needed. There had to be another incentive.
Here is where building in a new technology helps. Turns out It wasn’t cash incentives most of the applicants expected. They wanted the chance to contribute to Geeklist, to improve their skills in node.js, gain some street cred and be a part of an amazing and international team.
This is where the personal growth came in. I learned in under two weeks the value of a strong brand. I learned just how much our users believe in Geeklist as a global community. There has been much written about Founders stress, anxiety and the damage being a founding ceo can have on a person…it can take a toll. This is a story of the opposite. I’ve never felt more joy in my career than when people I have never met before offer to help for some options and the opportunity to work together with me and Geeklist. It’s a great feeling and one that makes being a founder awesome.
Step three was to get down to business… armed with Geeklist Convos, and a bunch of amazing engineers wanting to help, I set out to talk to as many as possible. I met with some in SF and many via skype. One by one they offered to help, to take on pieces of the project and to become part of the team. Then Sam called me out of the blue. He wanted to take on the challenge of becoming the Geeklist CTO. The best part? I met him on Geeklist about a year ago when he added this impressive card and I reached out to grab coffee. (Those of you who think grabbing coffee/tea with someone new is a waste of time are dead wrong.)
Step four is to pull the trigger on every one with the passion, skills and availability. Immediately. Don’t wait. Give them a chance and a challenge and watch them deliver!
- Your best resources are within your own network, the trick is to surface them. Geeklist did this for me, not because it’s my network, but because it surfaced up my network. That can work for anyone.
- Don’t worry about your budget constraints if you believe in your brand. Find others who are passionate about your product and reach out to them. You may be surprised at how far your core believers are willing to go for your startup or cause.
- Don’t be afraid to go outside of your region or even country to find people passionate about your product. There are no boundaries or borders in the interwebs. When it comes to great coders, they are everywhere around the world and excited to help. Hire based on passion and skill, not location.
- If you see someone interesting on Geeklist. Invite them for coffee, a skype chat or a Convo inside Geeklist. You never know what that may become in the future.
- Passion, achievements and an active profile is more important than resumes, answers to questions, challenges, tests or raw data scrubbed from every possible source on the web. If you want a team that pours love into your product, hire based on their love of your product more than anything else.
Meet the New Geeklist Family. Found and contacted using only Geeklist. We will be adding more passionate and talented members all month long, until every task in Asana has an awesome developer willing to help us complete it. We are drinking our own punch and it tastes pretty darn good. If you’d like to try it too just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org - Reuben Katz, Co-founder and CEO of Geeklist - grateful to have a passionate community.