In his latest guest blog post, Edward Hendrick, Founder & CEO of Sonru, discusses how non-technical founders can successfully navigate the hiring process in the early stages of building a technology company.
I grew up on a dairy farm in the South East of Ireland. It was all I knew until I went on to study Agricultural Science in University College Dublin, where I specialised in Agribusiness & Rural Development. When I tell people about the Sonru story so far, the conversation usually circles back to whether or not I was always a “techie”? They’re usually surprised when I reveal my background.
How to build a technology company without technical expertise?
I guess the next logical question to ask is how do non-technical founders hire technical people in order to build a technology company? Well, I was lucky because I met Chris Horan, a techie with immense knowledge and experience when Sonru was just an idea, and he joined as CTO soon after. However, you can also apply this question to any discipline that is not within your scope of expertise.
Reach out to Experts
I didn’t have the expertise to accurately assess, let’s say, a software engineer or an accountant. However, I knew people that were very strong in these areas and I was always very good at asking for help, an essential skill for every founder! I brought in the expertise to help on the technical capabilities allowing me to focus on the culture, passion and Sonru operations side.
Of course, this was so much easier to do using our interviewing platform. We could structure the interview into specific sections and ask the experts to review the questions relating to their expertise. It’s an easier ask when they can review responses whenever and wherever they want and better still, it’s equally as easy to add another viewer to get a second opinion.
Bring in Consultants
In a very early stage company, reaching out to experts can be difficult if you simply don’t know any in a given field. However, from experience, there are local agencies with a pool of experts that you can access so bring them in to consult. These are many valuable resources to tap into such as enterprise boards, industry associations and networks. You can also always engage specialist companies/agencies.
Trust your Hiring Managers
Within one year or so, I had hired three or four very strong candidates who were experts in their field and I trusted them to flesh out their departments with the senior, mid-level and entry-level employees they needed. I was always at hand to view the video interviews and attend subsequent interview rounds for those Sonru soft skills but ultimately they were assessing the core capabilities. Over the years, it’s been incredible to see other organisations follow suit when it comes to using video interviewing regardless of seniority level or discipline. Our Research Department recently released an eBook exploring video interviewing usage by role level and discipline, available here.
Internal Candidate Pipeline
Often, we automatically look outwards when new vacancies arise when the best candidate can be right under your nose. I like to think that Sonru is a company that enables mobility both vertically and horizontally across disciplines. We’ve seen entry-level people rise through the ranks and others switch department to an entirely new career trajectory. Many of our staff are keen on lifelong learning and invest their personal time in further education and courses so it seems fitting to reward that passion. Again, the video interview tool is useful in this regard because it ensures every candidate [external and internal] receives the exact same interview experience. The videos are there on record ensuring our decisions are objective.
In conclusion, you don’t have to be an expert in every area to build a global company. All you have to do is to realise when you need to seek help and then it’s just a matter of asking in the right places.
- Year-end address from Sonru’s CEO - December 11, 2019
- Guest Blog: How to hire people that know more than you? - May 2, 2019
- Guest Blog: Sonru – From Going Live to Going Global - March 25, 2019