Finding good hires for a start-up

The last two years of my career, as a co-founder of Madhouse, a media & entertainment startup, I have interviewed and interacted with innumerable kinds of people across the organizational spectrum.

Personally, for Madhouse, it was a dilemma finding good talent to hire when we started the company. Considering the fact that we choose to work out of non-metro, smaller city, there were a few challenges to deal with.

Typically, in a metro or a larger city, one solution for hiring needs is an external agency. As I went about exploring that route, I realized that I had only a handful of agencies to liaise with. Three of which were large agencies with regional offices in my city. Two of them were local, small time firms.

While the larger ones demanded huge amount of deposits even before they could sit for negotiations; the smaller ones who were ready to work on per-transaction basis, were unprofessional producing below-standard candidates to interview. One of the local agencies I choose to liaise with also indulged in unprofessional, fraudulent activities. They encouraged a candidate to lie about her experience and pay package; to earn a quick buck. I was surprised at the foolish, yet brave act of this agency; I terminated our relationship with them immediately after and my word-of-mouth about them is definitely not positive.

One way to hire good talent, I found, was through reference, reference of employees, friends and family. People I hired through this route were dedicated and hardworking. This helped, but only up to a certain point. Soon, I was again looking for avenues to find good talent. was one good find. I was apprehensive about the results initially since we were in a smaller city, but to my surprise many of the local talent are present online. For us at madhouse, is a trusted brand to hire good talent, today.

Currently, we are looking at hiring for positions higher up in the management structure. We floated the job description through friends and acquaintances as job postings in e-groups of top business schools in the country. We were apprehensive that the talent we are looking for may incline towards an established brand and may be start-up averse. Surprised, we were to see resumes pouring in from freshers to experienced top talents in the country.

For a start-up, especially those in the pre-funding stage (as we are), it is very important to be frugal and innovate in its approach. At Madhouse, we are now very used to thinking up innovative, cost-efficient, and effective avenues. For companies like ours it is important to hire talent that believes in the company philosophy and is in sync with the company culture. It is more important to have people who are aggressive, have the passion to think beyond the normal, innovators in their own little way.

When I see the madhouse team, as varied as they are in their backgrounds, all of them are vital stars in the constellation called Madhouse. Stars, those shine better by the day, to enhance Madhouse’s position in the vast Indian market. I am confident that as we expand we will add more such and better stars to the Madhouse constellation. And, I am also confident that there are avenues where I can find that talent.

3 thoughts on “Finding good hires for a start-up

  1. Hi..I have faced similar problems too and naukri and monster saved my skin. Wonder whether the recruitment market is ready for segmentation with someone focussing on talent for start ups. I think it is a idea whose time has come especially in Bangalore where my company operates out of.

  2. Talent…that overused, abused word. I believe an ounce of passion is worth more than a tonne of talent. Passion seeks its muse whereas talent seeks recognition (in the form of cash, bonus and stock options??). The only problem with passionate people is that they can be a bit quirky sometimes. Hey, I’ll work for you if you let me watch movies to my fill! 😉 Have you tried searching through blogs for the talent that you seek? .

  3. India being a service oriented IT industry finding candiidates with Product development to life cycle experience is very difficult, and if there are young energetic doable candiidates companies put no of years to other criterias alongwith openings.But yes, we have like 80-90% rejection ratio of all applications, which is really sad.

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