We announced recently that HPVP is hiring a Head of Talent to focus on hiring and people processes in our portfolio as well as to expand our talent network for portfolio hiring needs.
We are excited about this step for HPVP in formalizing a function that has become an important part of how we help our companies grow. It is no surprise that in its most nascent stage, a startup isn’t much more than the people that comprise it – an amalgamation of their ideas, experiences, network, leadership ability and executional prowess. This is to say that startups are as much or more about people (talent) than anything else.
Our experiences have taught us that there is no single “right” kind of founder. We’ve seen young teams and more mature teams alike found and grow great companies – though a common trait of industry expertise has been notable in our successful teams. We have also seen consistently that there is a right way to build a team to scale a company and many wrong ways: hiring friends, micromanaging, skimping on senior hires for too many cheaper juniors, etc. All of our teams at one time or another benefit from an outside perspective on organizational design, attracting talent and retaining it.
In our view, the right way to build a team means systematically establishing company functions as a company scales past certain milestones and hiring experienced or emerging leaders to head those functions. For example, we know that an enterprise SaaS company probably doesn’t need a VP of Sales (and probably can’t get a good one) until it passes $3M in recurring revenue. Until then, the best enterprise SaaS companies have CEO or co-founder led evangelical sales trajectories. For an SMB SaaS company, you want to hire a VP of Sales between $1M and $2M to scale a more mechanized sales process of smaller deals. As another example, a SaaS company doesn’t need a Chief Marketing Officer before $10M in ARR (a Director or VP will do), but after $10M, a deeply experienced CMO is the first or second most important hire to get right. We have learned many of these heuristics the hard way – hand-in-hand with our teams – and it is now time for a Head of Talent to encode and share them systematically with our companies and beyond.
Beyond organization design and talent management, once the correct open role is identified, a company needs to find and attract great candidates for it. Our investing team has historically spent 10% to 20% of it’s time meeting with talent in our geographies that could be a fit for our companies as they scale. We have sourced one, two or more of the “C or VP level” leaders at many of our scaling companies. Indeed, as a geographically focused fund, the development of a geographically overlapped talent network is one of the ways we think we have and can add the most value at our companies. It is a differentiator for us versus other peer funds without a geographic focus and also makes us a good partner to the later stage coastal funds who invest in our companies after we do.
Our investing team members will continue to meet with top talent, but our Head of Talent will expand these efforts and formalize a process to track the best talent in our geographies. As we patiently seek the right person for this role, we welcome introductions to experienced talent leaders with deep experience in scaling startups and a passion for helping more. Thank you.