Pave has grown faster than we ever imagined possible.
We’ve been on a rocket ship trajectory from a people standpoint, just passing the hundred employee milestone at current count.
By the time you read this, we will have already hired more of us.
In light of that growth, we’ve had many inspiring conversations among the team about what’s changed, what’s the same, and what’s possible for the future. Key questions we’ve asked are:
What does it feel like to 10x your headcount in a year?
What does it take to actually scale from 10 to 100 employees?
What hiring and recruiting challenges do growing companies typically face?
How does company culture transform as the team scales up?
In this new series, we’re taking a practical look at the components that need to be in place as your company grows and reaches the hundred employee mark. Combined with personal stories, interviews and insights from Pave team members, we’ll also offer do’s, don’ts, rituals, hacks and other resources you can implement immediately.
Here’s an overview of what’s coming in the next several weeks:
Let’s start with the first two learnings.
High volume recruiting has historically been proven as a short term, resource intensive process that isn’t sustainable. The maxim of quality over quantity essentially means that choosing candidates of a high standard matters more than the number of candidates you have.
But it’s not an either/or proposition. If your company wants to expand its sense of possibility as well as its headcount, it must embrace the both/and mentality. That means focusing on quality, and trusting that quantity will follow. They’re part of the same continuum.
Madeleine Tsao, Comp Nerd & Employee #7 at Pave, put this distinction in perspective:
“If you look at Pave’s hiring curve, we were actually behind our goal for a while! And it’s because we had aggressive hiring goals while maintaining a high bar for candidates. Our candidate reviews not only considered whether a person was able to do the job at hand, but also whether they could act as thought leaders who would help push, challenge & evolve our product. This prioritization of hiring stellar candidates has helped shape our product, but it’s also become a major attraction for top talent and created a snowball effect on hiring. The team has absolutely blown up. All of the sudden we had 10x’d by my one-year anniversary.
This sentiment suggests that simply hiring warm bodies to do the job wasn’t enough. Pave is at a stage where (full transparency), we don’t always know what job needs to be done. That’s why we hire smart people to tell us what the jobs need to be. We hire bright minds to steer and grow the product and function in a meaningful way, and that’s compelling to our candidates.
If you’re a fast growing company, start by investing in high quality hires. Discover the people who can identify new directions and bring thought leadership to the team. These kinds of team members are more valuable than people who simply show up and do the job for the cheapest.
As you solidify your product market fit, you may not necessarily have repeatable tasks to give each new hire. All the more reason to focus on hiring people who have something valuable to teach the whole team, not just a desire to learn from that team. This degree of quality will set the stage and have a multiplying effect on everything that comes next.
Anastasia Dencic, Technical Recruiting Lead at Pave, echoed this quality leads to quantity principle:
“We pride ourselves on our candidate experience because it’s about getting to truly know the person. Uncovering what they’re looking for motivation wise, and connecting them with as many members of our team through the process as possible. We invite them to the office, have lunch with them and connect them with our engineers. Whatever it takes to build a personal connection. Engineering is such a hot market, so technical recruiting becomes more focused on the candidate than anything else. Pave tailors the process to them.”
In our experience growing from ten to one hundred employees in the past year, customization of the candidate experience is critical. Pave doesn’t execute the typical technical job interviews with classic leading questions, or algorithm based problem sets. Rather, we make it so the interview looks and feels like their day to to day.
As you decide what quality means for your organization, be strategic about everything from recruiting structure to talent brand to interview process to the whole onboarding flow. If you offer candidates a transparent look into your real process with real technical problems they would actually solve, you’re more likely to identify top talent whose value will create the gravitational field that attracts others like them.
When growing your team, quality isn’t better or worse or more or less valuable than quantity. Both elements are part of the same continuum.
Hiring has a network effect. The first hundred people you hire will define the next two hundred.
But what happens when you’re the founder of a small firm without a ton of human resources tools? Companies with ten, twenty or even forty employees don’t have all their functions built out yet. And knowing when to hire for certain positions is critical.
If you’re struggling to decide who your first twenty or first hundred employees should be, ask Alan Shen, Equity Enthusiast & Employee #12 @ Pave. He was the first SDR on our team. Alan told me how he didn’t have enough data to know who our ideal customer was yet:
“CompTech was a completely green field in the beginning. The process of figuring out which personas made the most sense to talk to was a challenge. This meant constantly iterating our phone calls and coordinating with AE’s to find out which pain points resonated most, what topics piqued people's interests, how and what to sell to them, and so on.”
Sound familiar? If your team is new and the industry is even newer, we at Pave can relate. Our strategy from day one was focusing on the right folks to reach out to as soon as we could. And that meant earning trust through early and prolific communication.
Alan Shen continued:
“Founders and people ops teams ought to be transparent about everything they’re doing within the business. When you’ve established that level of closeness with a small team, it makes communication over sensitive subject matters so much easier to navigate. Do that groundwork around connection, so you know you can trust each other as you grow. That way, even if you make mistakes, you're not afraid to tell people that you messed up and learned a valuable lesson.”
One suggestion for your organization is, make sure every new team member who gets hired has their own customized announcement on Slack. That way, everyone on the team knows about it the moment it happens.
Speaking as a brand new member to the team, I can speak to the power of this early communication in my candidate experience. I’ve never felt so welcomed.
Claudia Zhao, who does Growth at Pave, used to work for Facebook, whose headcount is close to fifty thousand today. Her comment on the communication piece around recruiting was illustrative:
“Even though my team works on a product serving other startups rather than consumers, the upside is that there’s an awesome chance to work with a lots of teams at Pave cross functionally. Now we collaborate through all parts of the funnel, working with product and marketing and sales. The people aspect is what validated my decision to join Pave, and what made me feel so welcomed during onboarding.”
Ultimately, people ops teams absolutely have to invest in their employees early on to set them up for success. The return on investment of that will be astronomical. Whether it pays off via company culture or advocacy with clients, you won’t misfire in your communication efforts. Investing early and often prevents productivity problems, which lowers costs. Plus it boosts loyalty from the team, since they feel truly valued.
We’re just scratching the surface here with our deep dive into scaling growing companies.
Stay tuned for the next edition of our series when we reveal how to build infrastructure to help your team scale, and use force multipliers to give recruiters leverage.