Hire co-founders and first team members
- Updated on 02 Jul 2019
This excellent lecture by Sam Altman goes over the first steps in hiring a co-founder and initial team members. If you prefer to read the lecture, here is the full transcript.
Here's a quote from the video:
First, I want to talk about cofounders. Cofounder relationships are among the most important in the entire company. Everyone says you have to watch out for tension brewing among cofounders and you have to address this immediately. That's all true and certainly in YC's case, the number one cause of early death for startups is cofounder blowups. But for some reason, a lot of people treat choosing their cofounder with even less importance than hiring. Don't do this! This is one of the most important decisions you make in the life of your startup and you need to treat it as such.
Below is a quick list of timestamps for convenient skipping to different topics:
2:22 Today's topics: How to hire (Team) and how to execute (Execution)
2:45 Cofounder relationships. Among the most important. #1 cause for YC blowups.
5:35 Characteristics to look for in a cofounder. "Relentlessly resourceful."
7:27 Second part of how to hire: Try not to. It sucks to have a lot of employees. Anyone with a bad employee in their first few destroyed the company.
10:20 When hiring #1 goal: Get the best people. If you're a rocket ship, then good people will notice and join. A single mediocre engineer can kill a startup.
13:21 Where to hire? The best source is from people you know. Choose aptitude over experience in the early days.
15:00 Things to look for when hiring.
18:44 Employee equity. Aim to give 10% to first 10 employees.
22:25 Fire bad employees fast. e.g. Negative or politicking people.
24:55 When to have equity talks.
29:06 Execution. The company culture models the founders.
20:35 What are the jobs of a CEO?
31:45 100's of things competing for your attention. One of the hardest things as a founder. You need focus.
33:50 The best founders talk about their goals over and over. You need good communication.
34:36 Growth and momentum are extremely important. Have the right metrics and focus on growing them.
38:50 Best predictor of success for founders: They continually get new things done.
43:35 Disagreements between founders are settled by asking the users.
44:45 The best thing a board can do for you: Review metrics & milestones.