I think its safe to say that any early stage startup is as good as its team. And sometimes hiring the right talent becomes a major challenge. We have been fairly lucky in getting a good team together. Having been part of 2 early stage startups, I have come to notice and appreciate the qualities that are required to succeed and grow in a startup. Let me list them out:
This is something I learnt at my last place of employment and I treat this as the most important quality. Meaning of ownership is simple - Treat the company like your own. If this truly becomes the case, work will never seem like work and you will be ready for any challenge and any role.
Contribution over growth
Look at ways in which you can contribute and help grow the company. During interviews, instead of asking questions about your personal growth ask questions around the companies future plans, the product, and then figure out how you you can contribute best. Focus on learning. Thats the best form of growth and not salary numbers or job titles. They will come on their own.
Don't negotiate over salary
As long as you are able to live comfortably be happy. Startups are looking to hire people for their passion. Its always a big turn off when a candidate negotiates too much. We have a guy in our team who joined us few months back without knowing what he will be doing and how much he will be getting paid. He just called and took the next flight out to Delhi #respect
Funding doesn't mean success
We live in a world when any funding news is greatly celebrated. Unfortunately we also live in a world where potential candidates equate funding with success. Please don't apply to a company just because it has raised X amount in funding from a VC. For you to succeed you need to back the idea and not a VC that you have never met. Raising money means that the company has done some things right and is now ready to work even harder to get the next 100 things done.
The 100% rule
We often have candidates interviewing with us who look forward to getting their hands dirty and doing everything. I agree that this is exciting but personally I am not a big fan of this. You should give your 100% to a specific challenge and contribute over and above that 100% to other tasks. This means be ready to work that much more.
Getting sh*t done
The most over used phrase in the startup world but very true. You will have your back against the wall multiple times in the same day. And the onus is on you to either beg, borrow or steal, but keep the the ball rolling. So be ready to handle the pressure.
Having interviewed a lot of candidates over the last 4 years I can safely say that the best startup hires are the ones who have a healthy mix of all the above attributes.
Also remember that if things become tough (which they will) then the best thing to do is to have a chat with a colleague/senior or with one of the founders. You will be amazed at the extent to which that can help.
t - @anandsinha3