If and why to hire for early-stage tech start-ups

All early-stage tech start-ups face this question as they begin to scale: if and when should we hire?
Let’s talk about the hiring prerequisites. In this instalment of the Employee Experience series, we address two things; when do you hire, and what is the impact on culture and relationships when you do?

Hiring, alongside distribution and product, really will make or break a great idea. For every new hire,  you have an exponential number of new relationships that have to be built. All you need is one wrong hire to create a toxic workspace.

Below is an illustration of what that could look like.

 The person that shared this said, “Adding people (resources) to a team that lacks them doesn’t always lead to what you expect and this is because of the lack of consideration on the interactional costs.” Many a start-up can attest to a period of reduced to no growth after mass hiring.



You are building a high-performance sports team, you need to ensure that there is a shared understanding of what success means in a defined period of time, how you want to achieve that success and what each person’s position and contribution to that grander scheme is, and how each person must relate to the other for success. More importantly, the sum of every part is greater than the parts themselves.

That said, here are my high-level tips on hiring:

  1. Do not hire when you can promote. It’s a damn shame to see great people overlooked in order for an external hire who is great on paper.
  2. Do not rush. Having been a hiring manager before, firing people is difficult, you would much rather push a few more months, pay overtime and wait for the right fit.
  3. Plan. Before you advertise or search for someone to fill the role – you have to know what they are being hired for i.e the role(s), what success looks like from a work perspective and what traits are high priority and which you are willing to be flexible on. It’s also important that that gap is well understood/ felt.
  4. Measure. You need to know what method worked in hiring, where great candidates come from and your employee turnover rate.
  5. Interactional cost. Part of mitigating this cost is ensuring that it is clear the gap that is being filled and the team understands why it’s a necessity. Make sure that you spend enough time living your culture and also fostering great relationships within your team.
  6. Nip it in the bud. Do not wait to deal with things when it comes to culture or deliverables. Sooner is better than later.

And how do you know when to hire?

A  friend of mine shared his hiring strategy; only hire when the cost of doing it internally is greater than the cost of hiring. The way you can measure this is the time spent by founders on the role, vs their core competence or the cost of doing a less than perfect job.

In summary, the cost of hiring someone should be less than the cost of suffering from not having someone. This is the measure, it is abstract but you will know.

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news but you HAVE to put in the work and be deliberate about how you hire, train, upskill and retain great talent. It is do or die.

Happy hiring!


The Baobab Network Accelerator Application Banner


Venture partner The Baobab Network Christine Namara

By Christine Namara

Venture Partner at The Baobab Network


The Baobab Network Accelerator Applications Banner


If and why to hire for early stage tech startups

All early-stage tech start-ups face this question as they begin to scale: if and when should we hire?
Let’s talk about the hiring prerequisites. In this instalment of employee experience for early-stage start-ups, we address two things; when do you hire, and what is the impact on culture and relationships when you do?

Hiring, alongside distribution and product, really will make or break a great idea. For every new hire,  you have an exponential number of new relationships that have to be built. All you need is one wrong hire to create a toxic workspace.

Below is an illustration of what that could look like.

 The person that shared this image with me on LinkedIn said, “Adding people (resources) to a team that lacks them doesn’t always lead to what you expect and this is because of the lack of consideration on the interactional costs.” Many a start-up can attest to a period of reduced to no growth after mass hiring.



You are building a high-performance sports team. You need to ensure that there is a shared understanding of what success means in a defined period of time, how you want to achieve that success and what each person’s position and contribution to that grander scheme is, and how each person must relate to the other for success. And more importantly that the sum of every part is greater than the parts themselves.

That said, here are my high-level tips on hiring:

  1. Do not hire when you can promote. It’s a damn shame to see great people be overlooked in order to hire people who are great on paper.
  2. Do not rush. Having been a hiring manager before, firing people is difficult, you would much rather push a few more months, pay overtime and wait for the right fit.
  3. Plan. Before you advertise or search for someone to fill the role – you have to know what they are being hired for i.e roles, what success looks like from a work perspective and what traits are high priority and which you are willing to be flexible on. It’s also important that that gap is well understood/ felt.
  4. Measure. You need to know what method worked in hiring, where great candidates come from and your employee turnover rate.
  5. Interactional cost. Part of mitigating this cost is ensuring that it is clear the gap that is being filled and the team understands why it’s a necessity. Make sure that you spend enough time living your culture and also fostering great relationships amongst and within your team.
  6. Nip it in the bud. Do not wait to deal with things when it comes to culture or deliverables. Sooner is better than later.

And how do you know when to hire?

A  friend of mine shared his hiring strategy: only hire when the cost of doing it internally is greater than the cost of hiring. The way you can measure this is the time spent by founders on the role, vs their core competence or the cost of doing a less than perfect job.

In summary, the cost of hiring someone should be less than the cost of suffering from not having someone. This is the measure, it is abstract but you will know.

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news but you HAVE  to put in the work and be deliberate about how you hire, train, upskill and retain great talent. It is do or die.


The Baobab Network Accelerator Application Banner


By Christine Namara

Venture Partner at The Baobab Network


The Baobab Network Accelerator Applications Banner