How does a bootstrapped startup hire the first employee?

Published on Aug 23, 2019

Continuing to answer Quora questions to do my 200WaD while marketing Canny.

Here's my answer to: How does a bootstrapped startup hire the first employee?

If you're on Quora, your upvote would help my answers get seen. Thanks in advance!


Here's our experience hiring for Canny:

Step 1: Make enough money to afford someone. Being able to afford someone assures that your company is doing fairly well. I wouldn't recommend adding fuel to a weak fire.

Step 2: When you're ready to hire, try inbound (people apply directly to your company). We were a two-person, bootstrapped company with no recruiting experience and little time. We weren't in a rush to hire either so an inbound strategy worked for us.

We posted our job listing on sites like AngelList, We Work Remotely, and Hacker News.

From there, make sure people who visit your website/etc. are compelled to work with you. 

People want to work with a great team. Make your about and jobs pages friendly and inviting. We also created an Instagram account to show off our personality.

We have a blog where we share behind the scenes stories. This is a great way to show people that we're going somewhere. Joining an early stage startup is quite risky. People want to know they're joining a winning team. 

In general, all of this comes down to branding. Make sure your external communications make you a magnet for good talent.

Hope this helps! We've written more in depth about this in this blog post.