Employee Experience for Early Stage Tech Startups

When I say Employee Experience, I mean People Management, Human Resources, or Human Capital Management. I have chosen this term as it resonates with what I believe people management should be.

People want to work with someone who cares both about their personal life and professional growth. Your employees will forever be walking marketing campaigns for your company, and it can either be a great or a bad experience.

For a team of 3 or 4, most likely engineers in a tech start-up, is usually not the highest priority. As the team grows without hiring any field specialists, the team will receive little to no attention.

I dare say in order of priority, at a start-up, it is people (customer and employee), distribution and then tech.

Treat people well, and they will give you their best.

Treating people well, in my opinion, is a combination of this secret sauce where the level of importance per element will vary by employee.



–      Compensation – Pay people well. Please, just pay well. You would rather have 3 great hires than 17 poorly paid people looking for other ways to earn more.

In the same breath, you may not be able to afford experienced personnel however, not everyone you hire would want money right off the bat. Additional benefits like an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), insurance, mental health support and additional/ flexible leave days would serve just as well.

–       Trust/Ability to create – I never thought I would need to say this; when you hire people, please let them do their jobs. One of the things I enjoy most about start-ups is the canvas available for me to co-create in the interest of a shared vision and seeing the team’s work directly translate to impact.

–       Flexibility- This is a very underrated benefit. The capacity to work in a team that gives you the flexibility to have peace of mind as you work on personal matters is critical. Flexible time, place of work and flexibility to try new things. The key here is deliverables, not acting busy.

COVID has taught us that productivity and physical presence are unrelated in most jobs.

The fact that I could be outdoors as I wrote this piece was more productive than staring at my blank screen all day in the office.

–       Growth – When you raise your first round, hold yourself back from hiring for made-up roles. Your starting team has a lot more to offer than you think. Give them a chance to take on more strategic roles. Nothing makes for a more disruptive employee than one who feels stagnant and taken for granted.

–       Clarity – Let people know what success looks like, what failure looks like and the outcomes. The goals and the success metrics must not be opaque. We know that in a start-up, change happens often. You need to create a north star metric and break it down by employee’s contribution per period. We will be sharing an article on selecting the right metrics soon.

–      Connection – The best kind of employee is one whose personal life goals are met through the team’s success. As a founder, you should allow your team to build a clear path to success by giving them opportunities to grow at the workplace

It is important to build connections with people, the vision, the direction, and the overall idea of shared success.

Strangely, for the 10 years, I have been working, no one ever asked me about my personal or professional goals until recently where resources and opportunities are provided to help me achieve them.

Please note, I haven’t said drinks every weekend, a pool table, an office coated in Ankara fabric, free lunch, and floor puffs – I mean, buy them, but that’s not going to retain a team. I recently read a tweet, and someone said the best way to treat employees is how you would like to be treated, but I would like to pass on that suggestion.

The only way to retain an employee is to treat them with human decency, get to know them and ensure they are achieving their goals as the company grows. When work is external to achieving your life goals, you get detached and disinterested in people.

Another caveat is treating people right only makes sense if you hire the right people, giving autonomy to someone who has no desire to make decisions will only cause pain.


The Baobab Network Accelerator Application Banner


By Christine Namara

Venture Partner at The Baobab Network


The Baobab Network Accelerator Applications Banner


Employee Experience for Early Stage Tech Startups

When I say Employee Experience, I mean People Management, Human Resources, or Human Capital Management. I have chosen this term as it resonates with what I believe people management should be.

People want to work with someone who cares both about their personal life and professional growth. Your employees will forever be walking marketing campaigns for your company, and it can either be a great or a bad experience.

For a team of 3 or 4, most likely engineers in a tech start-up, is usually not the highest priority. As the team grows without hiring any field specialists, the team will receive little to no attention.

I dare say in order of priority, at a start-up, it is people (customer and employee), distribution and then tech.

Treat people well, and they will give you their best.

Treating people well, in my opinion, is a combination of this secret sauce where the level of importance per element will vary by employee.



–      Compensation – Pay people well. Please, just pay well. You would rather have 3 great hires than 17 poorly paid people looking for other ways to earn more.

In the same breath, you may not be able to afford experienced personnel however, not everyone you hire would want money right off the bat. Additional benefits like an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), insurance, mental health support and additional/ flexible leave days would serve just as well.

–       Trust/Ability to create – I never thought I would need to say this; when you hire people, please let them do their jobs. One of the things I enjoy most about start-ups is the canvas available for me to co-create in the interest of a shared vision and seeing the team’s work directly translate to impact.

–       Flexibility- This is a very underrated benefit. The capacity to work in a team that gives you the flexibility to have peace of mind as you work on personal matters is critical. Flexible time, place of work and flexibility to try new things. The key here is deliverables, not acting busy.

COVID has taught us that productivity and physical presence are unrelated in most jobs.

The fact that I could be outdoors as I wrote this piece was more productive than staring at my blank screen all day in the office.

–       Growth – When you raise your first round, hold yourself back from hiring for made-up roles. Your starting team has a lot more to offer than you think. Give them a chance to take on more strategic roles. Nothing makes for a more disruptive employee than one who feels stagnant and taken for granted.

–       Clarity – Let people know what success looks like, what failure looks like and the outcomes. The goals and the success metrics must not be opaque. We know that in a start-up, change happens often. You need to create a north star metric and break it down by employee’s contribution per period. We will be sharing an article on selecting the right metrics soon.

–      Connection – The best kind of employee is one whose personal life goals are met through the team’s success. As a founder, you should allow your team to build a clear path to success by giving them opportunities to grow at the workplace

It is important to build connections with people, the vision, the direction, and the overall idea of shared success.

Strangely, for the 10 years, I have been working, no one ever asked me about my personal or professional goals until recently where resources and opportunities are provided to help me achieve them.

Please note, I haven’t said drinks every weekend, a pool table, an office coated in Ankara fabric, free lunch, and floor puffs – I mean, buy them, but that’s not going to retain a team. I recently read a tweet, and someone said the best way to treat employees is how you would like to be treated, but I would like to pass on that suggestion.

The only way to retain an employee is to treat them with human decency, get to know them and ensure they are achieving their goals as the company grows. When work is external to achieving your life goals, you get detached and disinterested in people.

Another caveat is treating people right only makes sense if you hire the right people, giving autonomy to someone who has no desire to make decisions will only cause pain.


The Baobab Network Accelerator Application Banner


By Christine Namara

Venture Partner at The Baobab Network


The Baobab Network Accelerator Applications Banner