As I think back on a year of startup mayhem, I learned a shitton of great lessons from my business partner, Jonathan Stephens. I’ve got a separate post brewing on working with a co-founder, but here’s a quick anecdote worth sharing: Roll Out The Red Carpet.
When you’re a 2 person startup working out of a 10×10 basement dungeon that occasionally smells like raw sewage and you’re hoping to convince someone to work for you, you must be creative about selling the position and the company. In fact, you have to think bigger.
This is where Jonathan crushed it. In early 2012 we hoped to hire a phenomenal sales candidate who could bring a new market online. Rather than sitting in a stodgy conference room and boring everyone with a normal interview, Jonathan suggested we kick off the day differently. We scheduled time for her to meet two of our most important partners, Zack Mansfield at Square 1 Bank and Jessica Nance at Bronto Software, all while parading her around the incredibly unique American Tobacco Campus. See how fancy these spaces look? That’s pretty “red carpet-ish”, compared to our office.
Whoop-tee-doo, right? Wrong. This approach opened up a bigger story. A story that’s not just touting “us”. A story of internal and external teams working together. A story bigger than just a single [2 person] company. A story of partnerships and a rare entrepreneurial community. That all sounds lofty but quite frankly, we also had to find a way to make ourselves look more professional than we were. Fake it ’til ya make it.
I find myself faced with a similar challenge now at my next gig. We’ve got a really smart, thoughtful, and influential customer coming to visit our office this week. Beyond pastries, powerpoints, and lunch, we noodling for ways to create our own “red carpet” experience.