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How to Attract Talent With Little Cash

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Q: It seems like investors want a team before they provide funding but a startup needs funding before they can attract great talent. So, how can I attract great talent with no capital, so I can present my strong team to investors? It seems like the answer is always equity but in expensive places like Silicon Valley, my employees need something to live on.

-Lacey Guyick

A: You’re absolutely right. After all, investors fund companies not just ideas, and those require a team of at least two to four people.

Before backing a business, VCs generally want to see that the entrepreneur was able to excite other people and get them to join a team and build a business. But of course, where should an entrepreneur begin in attracting talent? 

Related: 5 Best Places to Find Qualified Talent

While, there is no clear-cut answer, here are some factors to keep in mind: 

Starting a company is easier than ever.

Being a founder is a great example of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, which is why you hear people starting companies out of their garage or while in college. By have tools and platforms that allow companies to launch at a fraction of the cost required a decade ago, entrepreneurs can use the little resources they have to invest in talent. 

The importance of really knowing your business.

Before meeting with angels or VC firms, entrepreneurs need to get a firm grasp of what problem they are trying to solve and how their startup will be a solution. Usually, they first speak to friends and family who know and trust the entrepreneur. Not only does this offer up the opportunity to get people to invest in the idea but also allows the entrepreneur to create a minimal viable product and do market testing, allowing for he or she to truly understand the business and vision. 

Knowing your business and the needs you are trying to fill will serve you well in countless ways, including bringing on equally passionate talent to your team.

Related: 3 Ways to Recruit Talent for a Hungry Startup 

Building a passionate and galvanized team.

When you are ready to find people for your startup, reach out to your network. Just as you are reaching out to friends and family to bootstrap the business, connect with those people within your network and community and tell them that you’re looking for people to join your team.

When you are in the recruiting stage, understand what function you’re hiring for and stay focused. Need technical talent? A savvy marketer? It really helps to know what exactly your needs are and pinpoint qualifications before you begin your search.

Also, look to leverage platforms like AngelList. Build out a thorough company profile. Include any prominent angel investors on your page, clearly articulate what your company’s mission and goals are and use the jobs page to list open job positions. 

Solid ideas with passionate and tenacious founders attract teams, attention and capital in a way that was not possible only a few years ago. Of course, it’s still tough. Only a tiny fraction of companies that are born become funded, but many positive doors have opened for entrepreneurs in the last 10 years.

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John Frankel

Written By

John Frankel is the founding partner at New York-based seed investment firm ff Venture Capital.