Building a startup: Hiring (May – December 2014)

Handshake Picture

Fund raising creates a big momentum for your startup. All the people following your project congratulate you. For the other, your credibility increases and they are more likely to listen to you. Most of all, you feel relieved: money in the bank will make your company safe for the next 18 months.
But, the break doesn’t last long. You have to spend your investor money. In a tech company, the best way to do it, is to build a larger team.

First employees

At Cozy we were already six. Having a lot of money was the opportunity to raise salary to the market level and offer stock options to our first employees (our investors agreed to open an option pool). They deserve to have a decent amount of stock as a reward for their patience and their risky choice. Moreover, it’s good for the company because it makes their commitment stronger (if an exit occurs, they share the revenue with you and investors, which makes a good incentive).

Expert hiring

Once our core team built, we started to look for other engineers. We had a lot of work to do on the product, to make it really appealing. Plus, we had to build an infrastructure to host the Cozy we will distribute. So we were looking for two developers, a devop and especially a senior system administrator.

To be efficient in our job search, we decided to rely on our network and targeted communities. It’s good to hire on recommendation. People won’t recommend someone they are not sure in. Moreover your friends that works in the same field, can help you in crafting your job offer (by the way thank you Haikel and Michael!).
The system administrator was the hardest profile to find. We wanted someone really good at it. So, we sent the job offer only to close friends and to some targeted communities (like Saltstack France community). The offer was almost secret. Our strategy worked perfectly: we got a lot of good applications.

Our hiring process was based on three interviews: introduction (online), technical (online) and one big discussion about the project (face to face). It was long and we discussed with many interesting people. After a lot of interviews we got our shortlist of three people. Finally we chosed Nicolas Ledez!

Build the team

For the software developers and devops it took more time. We made a public job offer we published on our blog. We had several very good applications. But, finally, we hired only people we met in meetups and who were interested in personal data issues.

Once our new member hired it was pretty easy to integrate them. We were used to collaborate with external contributors. Hiring someone is a little bit like having a new core contributor. Because we were ready for that kind of sitatuin, we had already a lot of documentation, efficient process to communicate and capability to ship easily new delivery. That way newcomers are quickly at ease in our team. They can commit on day 1. The core team has an important role in this part. They ensure that every new employee has access to information. Plus they trained them to the Cozy technology

NB: We published our offers before closing our fund raising. We took the risk to say that we were sure to close. So we interviewed candidates during the fundraising process.

Make the company cleaner

Aside of the hiring, the fund raising was the opportunity to clean the legal stuff. We audited every aspects of the company and fixed what was required. Fortunately, there were only minor problems. The most important change was the monthly boards we have to define the strategy of the company.
It’s great to share thoughts with experimented people: our board is composed of a VC and two business angels with an entrepreneur background (in the Tech field). Moreover, providing reporting every months is a good habit.

What’s new with Cozy Cloud

By that time, the product made a lot of progress. The platform and its application work better. Plus, we got a first version of our webmail client. We published a Mobile app that allows you to access files from your Cozy on your Phone and automatically backups your picture. About our hosting infrastructure, it became a lot more robust and we now have a more efficient development process.

We are satisfied with the 8 months that followed the fund rasing. We built the team, made our business partnership stronger, built a better product. Most of all, we got more engagement from the community. That's important to us to build something meaningful. Feedback from the community leads us to do something useful, that's why contributions and feedback matter a lot.

Next six months (from January to June) will be dedicated to build a commercial offer with our partner. See you in July for a full report of this period!

Picture by Flazingo Photos on Flickr