How to Establish a Core Startup Team?

One of the earliest obstacles that founders have in managing a startup team is dealing with how to get things off the ground without sufficient funding or the right people.

During an eLuminate Mastermind Session on Getting Funded, CEO and co-founder Anastasia Leng was interviewed by eLuminate founder, Sharon Brown, about the struggles she had to go through at Hatch with building a startup team.


Starting With What You Have

For Leng, she and co-founder Ryan Heyward had just left Google to pursue the Hatch business concept and that they were very passionate about. She moved from London and he moved from Tokyo so they could work together in New York. To get the website running, they had to hire a developer, since neither of them were coders.


Fortunately, one of Leng’s friends from London came calling, offering his services. Leng, of course, was hesitant about it, quickly telling him, “look, I can’t pay you” but the guy insisted saying he believed in their business idea and that he’ll work for free until the business gets proper funding.  So, they decided to get him onboard as part of their startup team.

Leng looks back on the experience with a hearty laugh saying the three of them worked “on a couch” as they were building the company.

Bringing New People In

As their online marketplace started to grow, they eventually had to begin hiring additional people which, according to Leng, was “really hard.”

She felt the first 10 to 20 people they hired should perfectly fit in the kind of culture they were hoping to establish. Bringing new people onboard, she says, is crucial because it means picking the people that would “help you build your business and solve your problems.” In short, the startup team has to be just right.

startup hiring

Getting Rid of Those That Do Not Fit

Leng also pointed out that sometimes it is best to fire people immediately instead of keeping them in the company too long. She shared how they were quick to get rid of people that they felt did not fit in their culture.  Acting quickly prevented further problems.

During the hiring process, the co-founders also had a specific set of traits they looked for when they interviewed candidates. For example, they asked situational questions that would really get the applicants thinking. Those who thrived when their answers were challenged were hired, but those who were a bit defensive were eliminated from consideration. Leng wanted to see potential and brilliance.

She sums up her startup hiring strategy by saying, “I don’t care whose idea it is as long as it’s the best idea for the company.”