Accidental Entrepreneur: How to Hire Your Team with Scalable Mindset!

  1. Strong Foundation: Products are built to meet customer needs and solve critical issues the market’s facing. To achieve that, I look for people with the right foundational knowledge, from education or experience, to build the products from strong fundamentals. Rather than asking unnecessary gotcha questions during the interview, ask the person to walk through a product or project they had completed and what kind of foundational principles they had used. This way the discussion is practical and helps one understand the communication skill of the person.
  2. Product Builders: This applies to founders as well as early key hires. People are hired to build products and sell millions of units for the company. During the product building and market release phase, people would experience many small issues. These are normally not taught at universities. Knowing these nuanced issues and being able to predict them before they arise and proactively plan accordingly to be solved as part of the development process helps a company avoid unnecessary delays/costly mistakes. I always hire a few good product builders who might appear to be a bit pessimistic, but their foresight would help scale the product reliably.
  3. Diverse background: I have written about diversity in many of my articles. It’s important to have people with diverse experiences and diverse backgrounds. Diverse knowledge would help solve problems in creative and efficient ways as well as when there are major issues. People with diverse backgrounds can offer multiple solutions and help a leader choose from a pool of solutions rather than one path.
  4. Out of box thinkers, yet in line executioners: During the planning and architecture phases of the product development, we need to have people with out of box thinking. This kind of thinking helps you differentiate the product as well identify clever and efficient ways to solve problems. Once product implementation starts, these people need to follow the agreed upon strategy and development process. All scaleable products need tens to hundreds of people to work in sync to achieve the final results. Hiring people with great vision and capable of following a set out plan, is what differentiates a well oiled machine versus too many cranky wheels.
  5. Experienced vs Fresh Graduates: There are so many discussions about hiring experienced people, whom people consider too rigid and can’t contribute to the latest technologies, and fresh graduates, who don’t have product building experience and may make mistakes. In my experience, it’s important to have the right mix of experienced people with fresh graduates. Experienced people bring the knowledge of building products and how to overcome unforeseen issues while fresh graduates bring enthusiasm to learn new things and the latest and greatest knowledge from academia and research. I remember my early contribution to automation and scripting which helped streamline the release process which was not normal when I joined Rockwell in the nineties.
  6. People with Good Temperament: For building scalable products, it’s important to think from the beginning about the long term results. I have found that people with good temperament are good at listening to varying viewpoints and articulating their opinions in a way that does not offend others while clearly stating their main points. These people help reduce the conflicts in the team and build long term reliable products.
  7. Delegation and Ownership: To build complex multi featured products, it’s important for people to take ownership and deliver on their assigned areas of responsibility. When the right candidate is hired with the right background, it would be easier for a manager to delegate the task to those people. When a manager or lead has to get involved continuously and solve issues, the team depends too much on a person.
  8. Get in the trenches: While employees are there to contribute to the major part of the projects, it’s the responsibilities of the managers and leaders to help those in the trenches when they face unforeseen issues. I remember spending weekends and evenings with lab technicians, manufacturing people to get the product shipped. That created an environment for the lowest level employees to feel motivated and work extra hard for the company.
  9. Each member’s Long Term Goal: During the hiring process as well as the regular checkup with the employees, it’s key to check with them on their long term career plans. Based on the available opportunities and timeline, it’s good to suggest them the activities for their advancement. This kind of open discussion encourages employees to contribute with passion while thinking about a long term career path.
  10. Company First Attitude: For a company to be successful, everyone in the team needs to pull in the same direction. People will have their own career growth and compensation in mind. Need to be careful around people who always have their own interests and are selfish. My answers to these people are that when a company does well and becomes successful, there are so many opportunities open up and company stock does well. Therefore, it’s important to hire people who will think about the company first while bringing up their own career in proper ways.



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Ruban Kanapathippillai

Ruban Kanapathippillai

Entrepreneur, Founder of multiple successful startups, Mentor/coach, Angel investor (Sandhill Angels) and Positive thinker