The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten on Smash Notes

The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten podcast.

Unfiltered insights and actionable advice straight from the trenches of startup and business life. The show hosts, Steli Efti and Hiten Shah, are both serial entrepreneurs who have founded multi-million dollar SaaS startups. Being busy CEOs of fast-growing companies, they know the value of your time and make sure you get the most out of each 22 minute episode. Tune in for new episodes every Tuesday and Friday.



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In this episode, Steli and Hiten talk about making the crucial step from hiring the first person to join your team to scaling it up to 10 people. They talk candidly about the hiring process and the importance of knowing—as best as you can—who you’re asking to join the team. Steli and Hiten also give advice on what positions to hire, the importance of networking, and how to convince people to join your startup.

Time Stamped Show Notes:


00:05 – Today’s topic is about the crucial phase of having hired your first employee to scaling your team to 10 people

01:24 – This is an extension of our previous episode which was making the first crucial hire

01:30 – It is likely that your next hires are also people you already know or your friends know or your first hire knows

02:10 – Always ask your current employees who is amazing that you would want to work with

02:37 – That person should not want a job here


03:23 – That is the person that I would want to talk to

04:08 – There are many people I hired that did not want a job


04:33 – It is not advisable to put up a job post

05:01 – Getting random people to apply would be harder for you since trust is not a factor

05:24 – The kind of people should you hire for the first 10 people in your team

06:10 – People are over hiring or hiring really fast

06:35 – Do not use a recruiter in the beginning

07:22 – The biggest mistake is hiring someone who is too senior

07:30 – What you want is someone who just does the work

07:40 – If you are not somebody designing or making the product, you should be the one selling

07:53 – You need to hire highly practical people who can either do things or bring in revenue

08:15 – Any “chief” that large companies have is not something you want

08:43 – A VP of sales is not needed for startups

09:32 – Do not hire senior people as they are expensive


09:58 – You have to ask yourself why this senior person is interested in the job

10:14 – It would make no sense for a senior person to be applying for a startup


10:50 – You want creative producers

11:24 – You need sales people who are flexible

11:39 – Things are going to be changing a lot in the early days

11:56 – If someone does not have a network, what do you do?

12:11 – Steli came to the US ten years ago and knew nobody


12:23 – You hustle, go to events and make some friends

12:53 – If you just came to the country and do not know people, a part of your job would be to meet as many people as possible


14:33 – All businesses are about relationship

14:50 – Start talking to people about what you are doing

15:20 – The hiring process

16:25 – It is important for people to just jump in and start working     

17:01 – In the early stages, you need someone who can work all the time

17:25 – There are those who have a good skill set, but need to be managed


18:05 – This can slow you down

18:35 – You want people who can self-manage and not afraid to make mistakes


19:44 – You need to sell your first 10 hires your company

20:40 – Steli would bring them to YS dinners and have other people convince them to join us


20:48 – It would be more convincing for Paul Grant to tell them about the startup than us telling them about it

21:10 – Not everybody knows PG, but startups do have their networks or investors or advisers and they should utilize these people in convincing their hires in the early days


22:03 – Take your time, it is a process, do not hire the first person you see unless you really know them and have worked with them before

22:28 – The first ten are the foundation in scaling up your business so you have to make sure to get it right

22:50 – If you enjoyed the podcast,

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