A Guide on Startup Hiring & Payroll for Early-Stage Founders

Oct 16, 2023

Deel is a Global Network Partner of Techstars, providing global payroll, HR, and compliance to more than 17,000 customers. To learn more, visit deel.com/partners/techstars.

Whether you’re an early-stage founder in-program or already graduated from Techstars, the time should eventually come when you need to start thinking about payroll. This blog provides best practices for running payroll in the United States or abroad.

Typically, founders pay themselves and their team as contractors unless they’ve raised significant funding or have meaningful revenue. However, once you decide to move to employee status and/or hire full-time employees, you’ll want to consider payroll support internally or with a service provider.

Whether you choose to pay contractors and employees in different currencies around the world, hire international talent in countries where you don’t yet have an entity, or classify contractors compliantly, finding a global-first platform where you can pay and manage all workers in one place is important.

Understanding Local versus Global Payroll

With so many payroll solutions out there, the first step is to understand what sets a global payroll solution apart from a local one.


  • Country-specific, tailored to a particular area’s unique tax laws, regulations, and labor practices.

  • The more locations your startup expands into, the more local providers you need to run payroll in those locations.


  • Scalable as your company grows.  

  • Manages payroll and related HR functions in multiple countries or regions.

  • Ensures employees and contractors are paid accurately and in compliance with the various tax laws, labor regulations, and reporting requirements of each country in which the business operates.

Different ways to hire and pay your team


  • Simple, affordable way to onboard workers from around the world.

  • Speed up global expansion and de-risk testing new markets.

  • Can be complex when searching for an inexpensive international payment method.  

Employees through your own local entity

  • Register a local entity to hire them compliantly, set up a bank account, hire in-house HR/payroll experts, or utilize a service provider. 

  • Initial setup and running fees can be costly.

Employees through an Employer of Record (EOR) like Deel 

  • Hire FTEs compliantly in countries where you don’t have an entity.

  • The EOR handles:

    • Payroll processing

    • Tax withholding

    • Localized contracts

    • Onboarding and verification 

    • Termination

Work with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO)

  • A co-employment agreement, this model is more prevalent in the U.S. 

  • Can help with managing state-by-state compliance.  

  • PEO handles benefits, payroll, taxes, and HR tasks.

For early-stage founders searching for a payroll solution, here’s the bottom line: Look for a global-first platform that simplifies payroll and workforce management from day one. 

This essential piece of tech streamlines payments, enables you to work compliantly with international talent, and helps you manage a global team effortlessly from a single centralized platform.

Free Resources

Global Hiring Toolkit

Country Hiring Guides