By @tecdr

Andrew Filev, the CEO of Wrike was at the Web Summit last month talking about how startups should hire, and he gave us invaluable advice and tips that startups should use.

andrew filevI’m here with Andrew Filev from Wrike, and he was earlier today talking about startups and how they recruit staff. What kind of staff have you been looking for?

Thanks for having me here. There are a couple of tips that I could give to the listeners. One is make sure that the recruiting is that top of the hat priority for the executives, right? So for the small companies, the founder, the co-founders themselves, the company make sure that you pass on to other folks. A lot of people kind of say, but not many people internalize it. For example, for me personally interviews take precedence over other things on the calendar so I would move out a meeting just to make sure that it’s the right candidate. I’m available to talk to them. Another important thing is that for us, we take as much time as needed to find the right person, right? So for example, we recently made an executive offer for the person for whom we’re sourcing for the whole year and it’s not for the lack of candidate, so it’s important that the person kind of fits the culture, it’s important that they understand your business model, it’s important that they’re super passionate about your vision.

wanna be like wrikeAnother interesting thing is going back to the operate, I do think that it takes some tenacity; so for example, we’ve recently launched an office in Dublin, which is growing superfast. We’ve already leased a space. We’ve already outgrown it. The interesting part is that look at their amount of work it took. The first ten hires we did, to get to those ten hires, we had fifteen person interviews. To get to those we had two hundred and fifty phone interviews and to get to those we looked at three and a half thousand candidates. So that gives you kind of a perspective of how much effort it takes but it’s well worth it because ultimately, people are defining how successful you are and especially with your earlier hires, there’s a saying that, you’re A players hire A players versus B players hire C players so it is important.  

When it comes to like boot strapping what things do you recommend  that you should deal with when it comes to that?

So, a couple of things, one is again, sounds obvious but it’s super important to internalize the focus on customer. One of my early stories is I personally manned our support line, both the phone line and email and that was super helpful because you get that very direct feedback from customers about what works, what doesn’t. I think it’s absolutely critical that in smaller companies, founders spend as much time as they can talking to customers both the ones who ended up buying the product and the ones who ended up not buying the product. Try to understand what works what doesn’t because ultimately your goal in life is to help customers do their job. That is part of our core culture and for many years in our company’s life we were growing superfast without outside investments. The reason is we looked at our customers as kind of sort of investors. They pay us money and we grow based on that money. That’s important and that allowed us to sort of build laser focus on things that really matter. One metaphor that I like to use is the customers work with the money. If you’re building something useful, people would be ready to pay for it and that’s a good gauge. If people are not ready to pay for it then probably you are not building something that’s meaningful, at least in the business to business perspective. We’re not speaking consumer apps, I’m speaking about business application, so that’s one thing.

Another thing that it’s really important to you, align your team and do everything possible. So in small startup it’s actually pretty easy especially if you’re all sitting in one room. It kind of comes naturally to a lot of companies now. As you grow its super important to maintain that both culturally. For example one thing we do as a company, we have these kickoffs, where for example in January we’ll have a kickoff in Mexico and we’ll bring our all whole Dublin team in there just to make sure that they are part of the same culture, the company that there’s sort of this cross pollination of ideas. So you got to do it on the culture front and you also have to do it on the tools front. So my own company like we’re doing software that helps people collaborate efficiently and kind of land work, executing work, review work across offices, across teams.

When it comes to buying hardware and software for a new start up, what’s the best way of doing that?

I personally, when it comes to software, rely a lot on reviews, either in person like what my friends told me, bigger companies, or review websites like G2 Crowd or TrustRadius, you can look at what other people are using and how does that compare.

Wrike free-online-toolsWrike recommends.

So for software if absolutely possible go for cloud. I’m sort of a through and through cloud guy. Like internally, our whole company runs on cloud. We don’t have this whole on premise servers for our own internal IT. Now, hardware, I think it’s a pretty easy question for most startups. It’s basically commodity. You go ahead and buy Macs if that’s your kind of thing and you have the budget. If not, there are plenty of other machines and everything else. So for hardware, I think is a good commodity for the workstations. For servers, I think for startups, again one of the best place to go is with cloud. A lot of companies start just on Amazon. That’s extremely easy and scalable and you save from a lot of scaling pains. You got to pay for that but you got to pay for that when you have money. And when you’re just starting, it’s tiny. I would definitely recommend, whenever possible, just go with cloud options.