Got a Problem – > Get a Solution! #11 – How to get top talent to join your cult – sorry startup!

Last night we at Hipsters, Hackers & Hustlers held our first event since TECHtoberfest – remember that? Of course you do, it was only the greatest Teutonic-Tech-Startup-mashup since, well, ever, with demos, drinking, dancing, singing (oh, the singing!) and Oculus Rift. In case you missed it, check out the video (which was shown on MTV Finland) here. It was so great (and such a big event on our calendar) that I had to take a fortnight off afterwards – but fear not HHH’ers it was more of a busman’s honeymoon – I was scouting locations for our new startup incubator project in the Caribbean; the Dominican Republic, to be precise (and don’t forget our skiing accelerator).

So, refreshed and brown as a berry, it was a pleasure to be back on stage hosting GaP->GaS #11, code name: “How to Hire Top Talent”; and I think you’ll agree this format; keynote speaker followed by the crowd-solving of frustrated startup founder’s problems by an audience of inspirational HHH’ers (that’s you folks) followed by networking; is an absolute winner!

And besides you, wonderful you (you’re like a breath of spring – a whole new thing that’s happened!) we must also thank our sponsors for making these wonderful events happen; that’s Moo (get 15% off with our voucher code HHH15), Viber (currently looking for content editors) Campus London, Event Ninja, SnapZap and, of course Glisser, fresh from the winners enclosure at Mass Challenge (they won £25k in funding) and powering our big screen live on-stage where audience members could broadcast their comments and feedback using a link so simple, even I can remember it!

So we were all set for a superb night and we kicked off with our keynote, Chris Platts from Talent Rocket; I’m just going to say it; if you are a startup hiring in London you literally have to talk to this man first. Here’s why:

In a previous life before he “went startup” Chris was a normal recruitment consultant, exploring different recruiter methodologies, companies, corporates and cultures. One of the things he discovered was that last year, 20% of people feared going to the dentist more than they feared death and they’d rather visit the dentist than look for a job.

Chris knows that good founders are always on the lookout for hacks; the “side hustle”, he calls it; bootstrapping on a shoestring budget; his philosophy is; “you don’t hire to fill a job, you hire to build a company”. And he is expert at helping companies create a culture so strong people will voluntarily come into the office every day and work for free – just for the love! If that sounds a little like a cult, says Chris, that may not be such a bad thing. After all, don’t startup founders and their employees all wear matching t-shirts? (they certainly do at HHH and we were giving them away to audience members last night!)

According to Chris company culture is “patterns of accepted behavior, beliefs and values that you what to do and what not to do in an organisation. It’s often what’s left unsaid, such as how long you should work, how you are rewarded, how aggressively you sell, how people communicate with each other and how talent is developed. It’s trust. It’s about trust – without trust, you can’t create tension, without tension, you can’t progress”. The effect of hiring staff in the short term is hard to measure, but long term, the impact is off the scale…exponential…put it this way, according to Chris, is better to have a hole in your team than an…you get the picture.

Incredibly only 11% of staff lose their jobs because they lack the required skillset; the rest cop it because their faces just don’t fit; so if you’re hiring, make sure you know what your company culture is; because “culture eats strategy for breakfast”; and make sure your company has an origin story. Like Airbnb (3 guys are skint, rent out the spare room, think they’re going to start a rental revolution, fail, sell US election themed breakfast cereal, get on Y-combinator, make billions), or Innocent Smoothies (3 strategy consultant guys are skint, make smoothies, sell them at a festival, leave 2 bins out, put your empty carton in bin #1 if you think we should quit out jobs and sell smoothies, bin #2 if not, now they’re worth millions) and so on.

Chris has worked with the likes of Uber, Airbnb & TransferWise, and knows some of the best plays from their hiring copy books; when hiring, think about some of the following questions; why should the 20th employee join your company? For the equity options? To meet smart people? To solve the world’s problems? All wrong, in fact; more evidence your company culture needs work. To attract the best talent, start networking, go to events, approach people directly via LinkedIn, post innovative job descriptions – above all do it stealthily – never offer somebody a job on the spot. Make them work for it.

Be authentic, be creative, hire your fans, and interview for values, not qualifications. Find out what motivates people, and above all, DON’T HIRE THE WRONG PEOPLE!! Remember, “nobody washes a rental car”. Find employees that are in it for the long haul, for the adventure, not the money. For more info, talk to Chris: @chrisplatts; here’s the link.

Hire Fire

Without further ado, here are last night’s highlights:

PROBLEM: are a new start-up on the block that allows you to work as a freelance recruiter; they are early stage and looking to do a spot of content marketing to boost visibility and help push the brand and its mission; how can they hire bloggers, freelance marketers, ebook authors and content providers?

The secret is to find content producers in your circle (like we did at HHH – check out and contact out stellar blogger Ted ; )). For e-books, you’d be surprised how many people have written one, like our audience member Gary C. Brown for example. Check out Top 10 Secrets To Finding The Right Job Right Now. Many, many people blog, all for different reasons, and a lot of people will be happy to pen a guest blog if there’s a chance the post will be seen. So tap into your existing network, and if you don’t have any luck, try elance, people per hour or fiverr.


Fraser Williams at StudyMonster has developed a site for  crowdsourcing study journals for students; he’s got a great Dev he’d like to bring on board full time – but without having to pay through the nose or sacrifice too big an equity stake. How can he do it?

The trick according to Chris (and several audience members) is a vesting schedule; effectively a contract that only awards shares after the employee has worked at your business for more than one year, increases the share allotment after two years, and so on. That way you have an employee that will keep performing, who you can keep rewarding. Simples.


Qaiser at is a training site for developers, by developers, whose ultimate goal is to supply top Dev talent to companies, having helped them iron out any training issues; a finishing school for talented Devs if you like. But how can they keep their company clients interested while they train they Devs to their level required?

One audience member with recruitment experience suggested (from personal experience) offering a 12 month money back guarantee; if you aren’t  satisfied with your new employee, we’ll waive our finders fee. It’s a confident pitch that could backfire but tells the employer you have their best interests at heart, which should keep them coming back for more even if you don’t have the right profile fit every time they turn to you. Be as clear as you can about your business model;  if  companies understand what you’re trying to do they will be more flexible (as long as they approve of the model).


Will at Quarry, a Blockchain consultancy is looking for a full time coder – but how can he be sure they will stick around when times get tough (as they always do when you’re bootstrapping)?

“Bring ‘em in, train ‘em up!” Said the audience; Chris’s advice was similar – focus on building a relationship, sell them your mission statement and they’ll stick around – if they don’t, you had the wrong guy anyway (although you may find yourself out of pocket). Check out Digital Business Academy, was another suggestion.


Dear HipHacHustlers, we’re nearly out of time, so pay attention, here’s our last few – and if you weren’t here for this one (it may have been our fullest house yet) then make sure you come to the next one on November 24th if any more incentive than reading this is required, we’re now giving out free, yes free!! T-shirts to anyone who comes up on stage to discuss their start-up problems and any audience member who volunteers a suggestion.


So the final few (and many, many apologies to anyone I missed out, please contact us with your deets and we will add you straight in) were;

Mark who is on the Entrepreneur First incubator having founded ContextScout (no website yet but you can reach him at asked what it is important to find out about a candidate other than what you can learn asking the usual interview fodder questions?

Personality counts, said Chris, “the problem is nuances; ask them what the last costume they wore was – that will tell if they have a sense of fun and if they are capable of laughing at themselves”. You could try looking at their network, the audience suggested, a little corporate / social espionage (Facebook, LinkedIn) goes a long way.


Joshua (no start-up) is running a scheme to persuade university grads to try entrepreneurship, what events ideas can the audience suggest?

Check out Founders and Coders, said, ahem, Founders and Coders; try the NEF (New Entrepreneurs Foundation).


Kieran at asked; “how do u develop a hiring strategy for a job that doesn’t exist?”

Sorry Kieran, you had us all stumped there, answers on a postcard please? We think you meant, what challenges will I face creating a new role within my company that I have never had to define before. Erm, still don’t know, but thanks for asking – that’s a valuable insight and a head scratcher, that one.



Really finally.


Elena at Acorn Aspirations is helping young kids at inner city schools learn about ed-tech and fin-tech and how to be an entrepreneur –  sometimes you have to think like a child to succeed in business – that’s half the fun ; ) but in all seriousness this is a very worthy site well worth a look.


See you next time (it’s so good to be back, despite the cold!), keep on hustlin’


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