I've attended yesterday's Mobile Monday event. Mobile Monday is a worldwide organization of players in the mobile space that gather on (I guess) the first Monday of each month for a panel on various related subjects. Its such a great setup: The mix of interesting people, hot subjects (in the wireless space) and the entrepreneurship spirit.
Another group discussing entrepreneurship in the wireless space is the wireless interest group (SIG) of the local TiE chapter. My personal impression is that the latter tends to draw more of the executive/VC level suites & tie types, whereas MOMOBoston draws everyone from students, developers, management to executives.
This last meeting was about typical issues that young startups face, with an emphasis on HR issues: Who to hire, when, CEO vs. VC hiring decisions etc. it was a great panel including a CEO, Director of HR, VC and Executive-level search firm. (BTW, a stream of the panel can be viewed here).
I guess a few thoughts crossed my mind as the panel made its way through the event:
"Shallow pool of handset talent in the Boston area": everyone on the panel agreed that there's an issue around locating handset talent in the area. The immediate resolution, they mentioned, was attempting to relocate talent.
Here's my version of this one: I'm a handset guy, and, (I think) a good one. Without even knowing me, I'm receiving the following mix into my inbox on a daily basis: 4-5 different great job offers from the west coast and in addition, the same 2.5 local jobs (I won't mention names) that vaguely mention handset experience (coming from 10 different recruiters).
In fact, as the panel members were saying this, I got another offer for "Job Title: Senior Product Manager, Mobile Handset Products" email...from the west coast. Any questions as to WHY THE LOCAL HANDSET TALENT POOL IS SHALLOW??
If anyone question my talent specifically, I invite them to see how long it took for a very large, talented group of handset developers, recently jumping off a local sinking ship (no names mentioned) to find themselves again. Unfortunately I believe some of those great guys are still on the limbo.
Allow me to propose a different way, perhaps more useful way to look at this:
There are a number of examples for centers of technology in the worlds that had risen from almost anonymity. And I'm saying this with a lot of respect. What made the difference, making those cities now technology centers, attracting everyone from entrepreneurs to Microsoft and Analog Devices?? My guess is as good as anyone else, so I'll take a shot: The university: A good professor teaching the right stuff, attracting other academic figures and then a breed of young talent.
won't make that overnight difference, but it will make a world of difference over time.
Something to think about.
Who to hire? great question: How do you identify the right talent and attitude: the rain maker. It is unbelievably critical to bring in those people who share the fire in their heart and dream the dream. My take on this: look at the spark in their eyes. That thing that will keep them working under the crunch the extra time, the extra effort, knowing that its about team effort. Knowing that you're there with them, even if you've got better things to do at 4AM, you respect and value their efforts.
The worst candidate to recruit is the one who will drop the pen at 5 no matter what.
Here's an easy tip: If a candidate answer to the question 'why are you looking to leave?' by 'I don't get enough of it' then make an offer on the spot. They're the people who can see the bigger picture and care far more about the success of the team, company and product, then anything else. They are the people who will turn on their laptop at home after getting the kids to bed and deliver the goods.
CEO & VC: A little off topic but two friends (or so it seems) sat next to each other. One is the VC guy and the other is the CEO. At one point discussing hypothetical conflicts between VC and CEO on hiring issues. And they seemed great friends. I could only wish that if I became a CEO one day, I'll have those relations too. Good luck to those two!
The VC guy: Finally, a breezy thought: Why am I enjoying so much hearing and being around VC guys? because they're enjoying it, and that's contagious.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying entrepreneurs aren't, and neither are engineers working the lab till dawn. But still, this is different: They are really projecting a calm, confident feel. They will offer you their highly valuable advice (See Jeff Bussgang fabulous Blog on "VC Perspective from A Former Entrepreneur". BTW, his picture in Terry Francona's office makes him a legend in my book :-)).
Reminds me of one-of-many post-super bowl comments I've heard the other day about Manning: He's done it. Everyone who told him he can't, they can eat their hats. Now, with that ring, he can really enjoy himself at a different level during the post season.
VC guys are, to me, a bit like that: they've done it, and they just have a different perspective of the game.
The next MoMoBoston event will be on March 5th. The topic will be a hot one: Wireless VOIP. For location and updates sign up on MoMoBoston site. Great speakers, good networking...I can't wait!