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Sourcing Engineers for Startup?

  1. Dec 15, 2014 #1
    Has anyone here compiled a team of engineers from scratch to work a startup project? Has anyone been recruited to join a new product development team? I'm talking garage with a whiteboard and workbench level development - early stage stuff.

    For those who've assembled, how did it go down? How did you build your team? What resources did you use to find the best people? How did you convince them to sign on? Did you make them equal partners?

    For those who've joined dev teams, how were you found/contacted? As engineers/generally intelligent and analytical people, what do you look for from a prospective startup opportunity? What would convince you to devote your valuable free time (uncompensated beyond partnership and potential for success) and intellectual capital to an unproven idea? Do these opportunities present themselves often (e.g. Every dummy's got a million dollar idea they need someone else to build for them)

    I am about to begin this process - looking for some insight from this community to ensure I go about my search in the correct way. I am aware of Elance.com and plan to use it, can anyone recommend anything similar? Would it be kosher to post on this forum to source talent?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 15, 2014 #2


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    Gold Member

    If you're going for free input and enthusiasm, I wouldn't restrict it to engineers. No offence to them; they'll be the critical factor in making anything work. But eager and imaginative laymen like me and most farmers can look at things from every possible angle at the same time and might contribute new perspectives that someone with pure book-learning might never think of. Even artists can help with their talent for knowing how forms blend (even if only for designing the housing).
  4. Dec 15, 2014 #3


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    I have been part of several startup teams, including successful ones and less than successful ones.

    Do you have a business plan? Has it been given favorable reviews by several Venture Capital executives? Where are you located geographically?

    Trying to recruit for a startup via Linkedin or similar is a big mistake, IMO, and would probably be nixed by the VCs if that is in your business plan. You need to have several *very* experienced technical people on your list of interested staff before you will get VC interest in your business plan.
  5. Dec 19, 2014 #4
    I've always been a leaf node on the org chart.

    But I've worked on quite a few startups. And all the startups and potential startups that I've ever had anything to do with have *always* been friends or friends of friends bringing me on board.

    Typically, there has not been a lot of free time spent on these ideas. Maybe a few Saturday afternoons and/or dinners. If you can't put together a decent powerpoint presentation and get some seed money fairly quickly, there isn't much chance of success anyway. You can get probably get some free advice, but not much actual engineering work for nothing.

    I live in Silicon Valley, so there are a *lot* of startups here, and even more people who are hoping to start a startup. The *good* opportunities are a bit rarer, of course! :)

    No one expects (or should expect) to be equal partners, so I wouldn't even worry about that. The larger the amount of equity you offer, the more work you get to expect.

    All startups (like all companies) are somewhat different, so your experience may be significantly different than mine.
  6. Dec 19, 2014 #5
    I totally agree with this. In some sense, you aren't looking to form a team, you are looking to find a team. You want people who you already know and trust and who already know and trust each other.
  7. Dec 30, 2014 #6
    Thanks a ton for the insight everyone - very much appreciated!
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