7 tips to grow your startup faster (via 3 Chicago tech executives)

by Doug Pitorak
March 4, 2015

[ibimage==45238==Original==none==self==ibimage_align-center]Shutterstock

A startup cannot be successful if it is not built to scale. How companies attract talent, hire employees and — in this age — keep their data secure are critical to a startup’s ability to grow.

We spoke to three Chicago-based, growing companies and asked for their advice on how to scale a startup in terms of hiring and security. Read on for tips from Caroline Grey, vice president and co-founder of Civis Analytics (hiring for operations analyst and accountant), Adam Robinson, CEO of Hireology, and Andrew Hoog, CEO and co-founder of NowSecure.


1. Attend local career fairs

Companies need to network with the talent pool, and Grey said Civis Analytics has had great success doing so at area career fairs.

“Recruiting young folks in STEM is really encouraging. We feel a lot more diversity at career fairs than we do among folks in the new career track who maybe didn’t have as many opportunities,” Grey said. “It’s really exciting for us to go to career fairs and meet young women and people of color who are really getting trained in computer science, math and statistics.”

2. Make sure your company is well-represented

[ibimage==45242==Original==none==self==ibimage_align-right]With that said, companies shouldn’t send just anyone to career fairs. Grey (pictured right) said Civis Analytics is smart about who it lets represent them, a process that has paid off.

“Make sure the folks who are attending the career fair are really capable of speaking to the work that they’re doing on a day-to-day basis,” Grey said, adding that alerting professors and departments that your company will be present is a great idea, as well as sending your employees. “We love to give our employees a chance to go and give their own work some recognition. I think they’re the best advocates for the work that we do at Civis. They’re really convincing about why they’re happy to be here, and applicants are really glad to see that.”

3. Don’t scare talent away with a painful application process

Getting job seekers interested in your company is a hard task. A painful application process could deter them. Grey stresses that having a quality applicant tracking platform can make a world of difference.

4. Approach hiring like a sale

Hireology might know a thing or two about such platforms. Robinson said their platform improves their customers' hiring success by about 40 percent, while decreasing the time spent on the process by as much as 80 percent. The key, Robinson said, is to treat hiring like another sale.

“The best way to approach recruiting is to treat it like a sales process, because that's what it is,” Robinson said. “Your goal is to acquire a new customer (employee) who's a buyer at your price point (compensation).”

5. Plan ahead for growth

[ibimage==45243==Original==none==self==ibimage_align-left]Even if a startup is equipped with such a platform, Robinson (pictured left) said successful growth cannot be achieved if executives haven’t planned for it.

“The pattern I see in founder and owner-operated startups is that the management team has thought long and hard about scaling the core business model, but not their internal hiring process,” Robinson said, adding that a sense of urgency to hire coupled with a lack of planning leads to spikes in mis-hire rates. “At some point, a successful startup will need to hire new team members — and whether 5, 10 or 50 people are needed, the challenge is in having enough time to do it right.”

6. Consider security from the start

Hiring employees is one matter. Keeping them happy is another. And today, if a startup doesn’t make sure its employees’ private information is secure, then growth will prove challenging, according to Hoog.

Hoog pointed to a recent Cisco study, which found that 90 percent of American workers use their personal smartphones for work. Furthermore, he noted that 60 percent of mobile apps offered through the Google Play and App Store markets have at least one high risk security flaw — and there are 300 apps installed on the average Android device.

Simply put, Hoog said companies must be aware of their employee data security levels.

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“This can result in issues ranging in seriousness from poor customer experience to massive data loss,” Hoog (pictured right) said. “It’s important to consider security from the very beginning of your development cycle. It’s much more difficult to go back and fix things once the app is live.”

7. Implement BYOD policies

Another way to make sure a startup is covering all the bases for security is to implement BYOD policies, Hoog said. 

“As your employee base grows, be sure to think through and apply BYOD policies around the use of personal devices,” he said. “NowSecure Protect is a solution designed to enable the enterprise to guide security requirements while giving the user greater control over their device than other market solutions.”

Have a tip for us or know of a company that deserves coverage? Email us via [email protected]

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