Are any of you hiring? When do you decide it’s time to bring a new person on board?
Sorber: “Even though we’re raising money and don’t have the capital for hiring, we have to hire. I had to bring in a CEO and so we had to use some real ingenuity in creating the opportunity to do that, stock options and the like. I have a director of engineering that I intend to hire here before too long, and that’s part of the fundraising. The risk is huge for everybody moving forward with that because you don’t know how the company is going to do.”
Lane: “I have been quite lucky to get master’s and Ph.D. candidates as interns. So there’s a number of interns that come through that are able to work on things like social media, which is quite important to a business like mine. In terms of hiring, if I were to go down that route, it would be specifically for developers.”
Blitz: “We need tons of programmers to do all of our coding, and this area is great for those people if you can afford them. You’re talking $50 to $70 an hour for programming, and I’m just a small business ... We ended up outsourcing. We went with an Indian firm because they’re $10 to $12 an hour, and we don’t have to worry about any of the taxes or the insurance liabilities or anything like that. ”
Hartigan: “We have had at least two interns on staff since the company started. Both me and my business partner went to George Mason, so we went straight back to George Mason and we’ve had a couple George Mason students on staff since the beginning.”
Aparicio: “My view for hiring for start-ups is it’s really hard until it gets really easy. You are competing with bigger companies that have benefits packages, and in this town there’s a little bit of over-inflation in wages because of the government. Your pitch is all around everything else you can offer: having a purposeful job, shaping the direction of the company, those kind of things.
You reach a point in your growth when you kind of get it all together and sales starts clicking. That’s the point at which you see huge hiring. A huge round of investment tends to be an external signal that you’ve hit that point, but not necessarily. [Some companies] have been able to break even and grow out of their organic resources.”
Have you ever been at the point of throwing in the towel? Why didn’t you?
Blitz: “For me, no. It’s more of a do I have to pivot. LuxSynergy started as automated check-in for hotels, that was our whole idea. That’s great if all of the hotels have the same technology and they all talk to each other and they weren’t all owned by different franchisees. So it was, do I want to be dead in the water trying to sell this? Or do I pivot slightly?”
Hartigan: “Before you go into it you have to really know what is that limit. What are you willing to completely give up? Is it your car or your house even? What is the towel? Really identify that at the beginning ... and then figure out what your support system is, whether it’s a business partner, a friend, a family member or your spouse.”