Techstars Startup Weekend Boston Women’s Edition

Startup Circle powered by Techstars Boston

Don’t Tank Your Company – Setting the Right KPIs with Techstars Boston

Startup Circle powered by Techstars Boston

Applying to Techstars Boston 2020: Leveraging 10 Years of Experience

“As an investor, Techstars is making sure that [we’re] tackling the right problems.” – Jinesh Patel, Co-founder, and CEO of Uptime Health, Techstars Boston 2019

It’s been 10 years since we launched Techstars Boston. Our Boston alumni have now collectively raised more than $1 Billion. They span from pre-seed to pre-IPO. Hundreds of world-class mentors are helping them.

We’ve had the time and opportunity to refine a program deeply ingrained in the local community. This enables startups playing to the strength of the Boston ecosystem to use us as a platform – a cofounder – to scale.

Boston is consistently viewed as a top technology and innovation hub for startups. Techstars Boston works with top talent from all over the world and has the reputation of churning out successful founding teams.  Boston boasts an intensely active startup ecosystem that enables hundreds of companies and successful exits each year.

Earlier this year we worked on a ten-year retrospective with our friends at Venture Fizz and Techcrunch. We are looking forward to the next ten years, and all the founders we will be helping.

For those we’ve not yet worked with, Jennifer Jordan, Mentor-in-Residence at Techstars Boston, says it best: “The way you [accelerate a company at Techstars] is diving in side by side. You get in the trenches with them and grab a shovel”. During our 2019 program, Jennifer spent upward of 20 hours every week working hand-in-hand with our founders, after a successful career in Venture Capital.  

How to Connect, Meet Us and Book Office Hours

We’re opening applications to our 2020 Class and would love to talk with you. 

We are available for virtual office hours and AMA events, as well as live, in-person meetings hosting various workshops, talks and office hours. 

Here’s what founders say about the program

What to Expect When We Meet?

In these Office Hours, our goal is to leverage what we’ve seen in thousands of companies and help you over the most challenging hurdles. As a founding team, you will get a 20 minute office hour session either in person or virtually. Feel free to come with your team, and ask questions, learnings from comparable companies we’ve helped to use this to grow your personal network.

Before or after meeting with us, check out our Toolkit where we’ve compiled some of our best resources to run a startup. Additionally, visit the application specific toolkit for answers to frequently asked questions about how it works and what we are looking for on an application.

Regardless of what company you’re building, if you’re working on a problem you have conviction for solving – we’re eager to hear more. Find us this summer or sign up directly for a virtual session. 

10 Teams Revolutionizing B2B SaaS, Applied AI, Healthcare, and Marketplaces—and 10 years of Techstars Boston!

For the past decade at Techstars Boston, we have had the privilege of working, each year, with 10 different companies driving tech innovations across a variety of industries. Every year of our programs is special, and this year was no exception.

This year, our class was structured around the themes of B2B SaaS, Applied AI, Marketplaces, and Healthcare, with each company falling into one or more of these categories.

2019 also marked the 10-year anniversary of Techstars Boston, which our friends at TechCrunch and VentureFizz put in perspective nicely.

Additionally, our 2019 class marked a significant milestone for our program—a 400% improvement of diverse representation in our class! Looking at gender, race, country of origin, and background, growing diversity and inclusion in our accelerator have been a significant focus for us, and we are making progress. I believe cognitive diversity is fueled by human diversity. And while we are still far from being perfect, we are proud to have welcomed 4 female-led companies and many more encompassing aspects of diversity to this year’s class of Techstars Boston. Techstars alum Kendall Tucker recently profiled our commitment to diversity and inclusion in Forbes, addressing the strides we are making towards addressing this industry-wide issue.

All of the companies from this class were in stealth mode until the very end of the program,  working tirelessly for the past few months to get to where they are now, which gives us the distinct pleasure in officially announcing the 2019 class of Techstars Boston.

Jen Riedel, our fantastic program manager, Aaron O’Hearn, our director, and I are honored to welcome the following teams to our Techstars Boston alumni, after having had the opportunity to introduce them on stage at Demo Day in front of 1,000+ members of our local community. I present to you the Techstars Boston Class of 2019!

AceUp – #B2B #Marketplace

For companies who want to do more for their people, AceUp delivers personalized executive coaching to connect employees at all levels with their full potential, through a tech-enabled framework that makes it impactful, scalable, and measurable.

Traction since joining Techstars: $500K GMV in Q1 2019, 10x growth compared to Q1 2018, above 90% retention rate, more than 30 companies in their portfolio.

adopets – #B2B #Marketplace

For pet lovers seeking a friend for life, Adopets provides the best online adoption for you, your pet, and your community.

Traction since joining Techstars: Partnered with the 2nd largest shelter software platform in the world, to become the largest payment processing in the world for pet adoption fees. With over 400,000 searches in the platform and 380,000 adoptable animals and clients in the U.S, Australia, and India.

DragApp – #B2B

For companies that need lots of tools to get jobs done, Drag is the Everything Inbox for teams. One single place to support customers, manage tasks and close deals, from the place teams, love, email.

Traction since joining Techstars: 100,000+ downloads, 30,000 active users, 1,000+ paying customers. Users from larger companies like Uber, Spotify, HubSpot, and AirBnB. 4.5 to 5 star from over 800+ reviews.

HomeBinder –  #B2B #Marketplace

HomeBinder brings peace of mind to 1 in 25 new homebuyers in North America by helping them manage their home updated by a trusted network of service providers.

Traction since joining Techstars: Used by 4% of the new houses in North America, with 500k+ ARR, 200,000 new houses every year, 110,000 real estate agents and 12,000 home professionals.

LuminDx – #AI #Healthcare

For generalist physicians addressing skin conditions affecting billions, LuminDx is building AI to elevate these doctors into expert dermatologists.

Traction since joining Techstars: Exclusive agreements with major hospitals in the U.S. for over 70,000 diagnosed images, to win in the space of AI applied to skin conditions.

Metrobi – #B2B #AI

The mind behind city logistics. Metrobi helps wholesalers manage the last mile of their deliveries.

Traction since joining Techstars: We manage more than 5000 deliveries every day (one delivery every 10 seconds), empowering companies to do 23% more deliveries per vehicle

Pluto – #AI

A text-based social assistant to help you manage relationships you care about and be more intentional with the people in your life.

Traction since joining Techstars: Waitlist up from 400 to 7,000 in 2 months, currently gaining 1,000 members per week. Launching Summer 2019. Creating novel, humane AI that supports human-powered solutions to reviving true personal connection.   

UptimeHealth – #B2B  #Marketplace #Healthcare

For healthcare executives who handle the medical equipment needs of their facility, UptimeHealth provides a software tool that will lower your cost of owning devices and help you plan for your next big purchases.

Traction since joining Techstars: Has built the largest marketplace of clinical technicians in the US (with 1,300 technicians). Over the past 3 months has doubled the number of customers (13 to 24) with a pipeline of 700 facilities.

VICI Sports – #B2B

For diehard fans who can’t be at the game, VICI’s TV network brings the stadium experience home through partnerships with the largest teams in the world.

Traction since joining Techstars: The $1B soccer team Paris Saint-Germain, the reigning NHL champions Washington Caps, and the most valuable NBA franchise NY Knicks all use VICI TV to broadcast video content and offers directly to fans in bars.

WorkAround Online – #AI #Marketplace

For companies who want to use machine learning to drive their business, WorkAround provides training data annotated by a skilled untapped workforce for the highest possible quality, trusted by world-class companies.

Traction since joining Techstars: Tagged over 2M tasks on its platform, secured a partnership with BigML, and has a 2000 person skilled workforce. Customers include WeWork and ZoomInfo.

We look forward to seeing what the next ten years of Techstars Boston have in store for us.

In the meantime, we couldn’t be more excited to work alongside all of you for the continued success of these ten teams, who encapsulate some of the best of Boston!

Jen, Aaron, Clement

Techstars Boston Celebrates Its First Decade of Helping to Transform Massachusetts’ Technology Innovation Ecosystem

Ten-year anniversary marks Techstars accelerator’s key role in helping Boston
become a global innovation hub

BOSTON, April 16, 2019Techstars Boston Accelerator today announced a significant milestone: ten years of operations and growth in service to the Massachusetts’ technology community. From 2009 to 2019, Techstars Boston has played a pivotal role in contributing to the Boston region’s innovation ecosystem, through providing 155 startups access to experienced mentors and a powerful network for capital, business development, and recruitment.

Techstars mentorship-driven accelerator programs invest in founders to help them do more faster. Each year, Techstars Boston works with 10 select startups who are focused on innovation sectors including SaaS, Artificial Intelligence, Marketplaces, and more recently Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. The intensive three-month program culminates with a “demo day” where participating companies present their newly polished businesses to an audience of venture capitalists, corporate innovation leaders, and industry experts. Techstars Boston Demo Day 2019 will take place on May 7, 2019.

The success of Techstars Boston was a key driver in the creation of the now two-year-running Air Force Accelerator Powered by Techstars, another Boston-based accelerator program run in partnership with the U.S. Air Force, BAE Systems, and MD5. Focused specifically on autonomous technology, materials science, and AI/ML, the Air Force Accelerator Powered by Techstars’s demo day will be held on May 16, 2019, at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

“Since 2009, Boston has emerged as one of the best cities in the world in which tech, healthcare, and deep platform companies launch and grow their businesses,” said Clement Cazalot, Managing Director of Techstars Boston since 2017. “Back in 2012, I was an immigrant entrepreneur seeking help to build my startup from a concept into a solid business. Through Techstars accelerator program and connections, we not only secured funding from Boston-based investors Polaris Partners and Accomplice, but we were ultimately acquired by global technology provider Intralinks in just two years. Having seen first-hand how Techstars can significantly contribute to startup success, it’s now my privilege as Managing Director of Techstars Boston to help founders build and scale impactful, high-growth companies”.

Over the past decade (2009 to 2019), Techstars Boston has consistently backed and supported founders as a unique breed of early-stage investor. Techstars Boston acts more like a cofounder to the companies, with its successes over the past decade including:

  • Graduating 155 companies from the Techstars Boston program
  • Bringing 50 Techstars companies to the Boston region, and calling it home
  • Helping 31 Techstars Boston alumni in achieving acquisitions
  • Claiming 11 of the Techstars top 50 alumni companies as Techstars Boston graduates, including PillPack, Placester, Localytics, Snyack, Amino, GrabCAD, Zagster, Bevi,, Lovepop, and Kinvey
  • Funding to Techstars Boston companies in over $1B
  • Cultivating a network of over 1,000 Techstars Boston mentors, including angel investors, venture capitalists, and investment bankers; entrepreneurs including co-founders of Avid Technology, Constant Contact, HubSpot, iRobot, and RunKeeper; as well as leaders from Amazon, Google, TripAdvisor, and local universities such as MIT, Harvard, Northeastern, Babson, and Olin.
  • Creation of nearly 3,000 jobs by Techstars companies in the Greater Boston area
  • Helping over 75% of Techstars Boston portfolio companies maintain active operating status or achieve acquisition.

Furthering Massachusetts’ as a global hub for innovation, the Techstars portfolio in Boston is comprised of companies ranging from enterprise SaaS – where Boston is a world leader – to artificial intelligence and other deep technology applied to healthcare, cybersecurity, logistics, wellness, finance, and social impact. The portfolio is a representation of Boston’s core strengths as an ecosystem; often representing companies focused on big problems end up driving the future of our society.

About Techstars Boston Accelerator

Techstars Boston Accelerator is a program from Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Since its founding in 2009, Techstars Boston has helped startups connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporations to grow their companies. With worldwide operations on every continent, Techstars comprises three divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, and Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships. The global Techstars accelerator portfolio includes more than 1,700 companies with a market cap of $19.1 Billion.

For more information about Techstars Boston, visit

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Techstars Boston: Help Us Get More Diverse Founders Applying

Challenging the bro-grammer stereotype

The first day of Techstars Boston, I was impressed by all the thoughtful, kind, and honest people I met. There was little in the group that resembled the stereotype of a mansplaining bro-grammer. Except for the fact that people said the word “awesome” a lot and nearly everyone was a straight, white man.

There was just a small handful of women and even fewer people of color. One female-led startup. Two founders of color.

But within that first day, both Clement Cazalot, the managing director, and Aaron O’Hearn the director of Techstars Boston, stood up in front of the entire class and told us that this lack of diversity was their fault. They called this their personal failure to recruit more women and people with diverse backgrounds.

They didn’t make excuses or get defensive. They acknowledged it and took responsibility. The program tracked hundreds and hundreds of companies from applications and referrals from the network: only 18 percent of teams had a female founder n and just 48 percent self-identified as non-white (although only a fraction of the applicants shared this information, and empirical data would suggest a very different ratio where non-white applicants are a minority).

Since that day a few weeks ago, by opening the conversation about the very visible diversity gap, Aaron and Clement have already taken the first step towards changing it. This conversation is just the start.

What can we do to change this?

In short, I can see at least three huge obstacles.

  1. Fighting the bad reputation of an entire industry

On that first day, Aaron and Clement also set the tone for three months of a startup accelerator focused on personal development and propelling these startup ideas forward. They laid out the core values of giving first, acting with integrity, and treating each other with respect. They didn’t skip over a single bullet of the Techstars’ Code of Conduct, putting serious weight behind their statements that they would not tolerate any harassment or violence.

It all sounds like common sense, but they are fighting against the reputation of the entire tech/startup ecosystem that is rightly and publicly criticized for having a gender-discrimination problem, an even worse racial disparity, and a track record of sexual harassment.

This bad reputation has a major impact on many potential founders, who might have an amazing idea for a new startup. How many women want to be in a group of dudes mansplaining tech? How many people of color want to feel like the token black friend? Or worse, discriminated against when the investors come around later?

Those fears are real.

Fighting this reputation only starts with words and conversations. Statements that set Techstars as a safe place for not just all kinds of business ideas, but all kind of people. Aaron, Clement, and all the others here who go out of their way to make sure that every person here is treated with respect.

Then those words must be backed up with action.

  1. If you’re actually biased towards actions

It’s not enough to say you care about diversity. You have to follow your words with real actions. This is the supposed mindset of every entrepreneur: see a problem, search out solutions, and take action.

In taking action, Techstars publishes data on diversity and established a foundation exclusively for giving grants to organizations with programs focused on improving diversity in entrepreneurship. Locally, the Techstars Boston is searching for more actionable steps.

“We’re being explicit and looking for solutions,” Clement says. “There is no ‘silver bullet’ and we have to have a long-term approach.”

Clement wants to improve diversity in the application pipeline and make the program known for attracting a diverse mix of potential founders. Last fall, he and Aaron put the word out to people they knew in the community, made the rounds to venture capitalists, and held office hours to recruiting potential founders. Those actions weren’t enough.

In a similar vein, the managing director of Techstars Seattle, Chris Devore, wrote a blog post last year after the program had only one female-led startup that accepted a slot in the program. Chris wrote he was frustrated that he failed to recruit diverse startups and asked for ideas from the Seattle community. Following Chris’ request for help, the diversity in the Seattle program has improved – with the press calling it one of Seattle’s most diverse classes yet.

Some Techstars programs, including in Boston, have had a more equal gender mix (or completely equal) among their startup founders. It takes planning and intentional effort, the long-term approach to get the word out before 2019 applications even open in the summer.

  1. Change starts with all of us

We need all of Boston engaging in this conversation and looking for solutions. More diversity in early stage startups is the fastest way to challenge the reputation that afflicts this industry. To make steps toward better, safer, more respectful workplaces for everyone.

This takes getting the new Techstars founders, the alumni, the mentors, and community partners all involved. For all of us in the Boston community too — in tech, education, finance, marketing, whatever — we can help change this.

Demo Day is at the end of April. Tell your friends, family, or students to come, meet the Techstar team, and the founders. Applications open for the 2019 program in the summer and stay open until the fall.

Help us recruit, encourage, and support all those founders who don’t look like the bro-grammer stereotype.

Preview of Boston Demo Day 2018

Focusing on companies leveraging what Boston is world class at

This is an exciting time for Techstars in Boston. Most of the companies are coming from our local ecosystem in New England, and this is a pleasure to see such innovation being fostered here!

On April 26th, we will host an exclusive event showcasing the companies. Stay tuned for updates. If you want to request an invite, we are curating the list of people invited. If you want to join, let’s talk! Sign up here to be kept in the loop about dates, location and timings.

We are now one month into the program, the companies are out of a few weeks of intense meetings with key mentors from their respective industries, enabling them to put their recent achievements in perspective.

In September I wrote about Boston’s Ecosystem Investment Trends, and the focus for this Techstars class. Our focus was going to be on supporting mostly companies focussed on SaaS transition or Data/AI – and the Boston did not fail to deliver. We have a remarkable class of startups about to embark on their vision, or continue pioneering in their industry. Here’s how they fit in with what we had planned.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of the companies, we have one other company that will be revealed later.

The 12th class for the city, 147 companies have been through Techstars Boston, and this is the 122nd class overall for Techstars as a global accelerator. Boston is proud to have helped bring PillPack, Localytics, Placester and Synack to market – just to name a few.

We are also proud to have an incredible mentor network, stretching from alumni, to some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the Boston. Its with the help of this Techstars community that makes the experience what it is today. So thank you all. Thank You mentors for your continuous empowerment of entrepreneurs. Thank You to the community for your support of our founders and their startup ideas. And Thank You to all the startups which applied and didn’t get in – we’re all on the same path to greatness, and we have no doubt you will do Boston proud either way.

So without further ado, here are the companies in more detail, in alphabetical order.


Brio Systems, a direct to consumer healthcare company. Brio Systems puts preventative health within reach of consumers. Using a monthly health check service in the form of a painless blood test aimed to give a person access to their health status and trends on where they are headed. Anonymized datasets provide corporations with insight on their population health and effective ways to optimize their costs of healthcare expenditure.


Banks in the U.S. spend $7.5B per year managing their existing commercial loans, which they could be spending on generating new loans. Managing this backlog of data is a time-consuming, manual process. Chameleon enables commercial lenders to generate more loans by unlocking the $7.5B tied up on data entry. Lenders can spend more time underwriting and sourcing new deals.


In today’s digital era, contractors have no good way to deliver an experience that meets consumers expectations. With Fazta, Contractors get a mobile app that instantly digitizes their business with a website, online billing, and a business phone number.  We put an end to running a business on the back of an envelope, and give contractors an online operation that builds loyal customer relationships.


Meenta eliminates researchers purchasing problems when mapping their experimental design to instruments. Consequently, when it’s easier to buy, scientists buy more often, instruments run more often and the cost to own and operate instruments decreases. We eliminate 80% of the project consultation costs normally associated with educating new users.


We solve every pain point users experience with window air conditioners and create value through design, premium fit and finish and smart home integration. Noria’s launch product is a 5,000 BTU connected window air conditioner that’s just 7” tall and twice as quiet as existing units. It installs securely and safely in minutes and is easy to move and store. It works with Alexa, Nest, and Google Home or via iOS or Android app.


Openly, an insurance carrier, will offer superior insurance products that innovate on the coverage terms and the experience of quoting and buying insurance–for example, enabling a sellable quote in under 60 seconds. We will leverage advanced statistical models at every decision point to reduce expenses and offer the best rates to win high value consumers.


Cyber security is a complex and evolving discipline. Cyber attacks and data breaches are threatening the bottom line. Securicy is a complete solution that’s tailored to small to medium-sized organizations that  enables the user to efficiently build, implement, maintain and enforce a compliant cyber security program in their organization.


Sophia, a marketplace for therapy. Patients fill out a simple form on their needs, then Sophia provides the top predicted matches from their therapist network, making it easy to set up the first appointment, and follow up to ensure a good fit. Over time, the plan is to expand into additional services (payment, scheduling, outcome tracking) to improve therapeutic outcomes.


SparkCharge makes Portable Modular Ultra Fast Charging Stations for electric vehicles that go in your trunk. For the first time EV owners will be able to charge their car anytime and anywhere they want. Now, EV owners can seamlessly connect and extend range by swapping out addition 10 mile range battery packs as they see fit. Our rapid chargers can charge electric vehicles at 1 mile every 60 seconds, which makes charging fast and convenient.

There you have it. The companies ready to #domorefaster with the support of the Techstars ecosystem. Stay tuned for updates, and we hope to see you at Demo Day. Sign up here to be kept in the loop about dates, location and timings.

And as always, if you have a good idea. We’d love to know about it. Come hang out with us at one of our action-oriented programs such as Startup Weekend by staying up to date here, or see if there’s an accelerator Program that suits you.

Stay Motivated,

Clement, Aaron, Nick & Saba

Hiring, the Single Most Important Skill as a Founder

Today’s post comes from Moritz Plassnig, founder and CEO of Codeship (Techstars Class 22).

The longer I’m involved in Codeship (the company I co-founded), the more other founders I mentor, the more I’m convinced that people and a great team is the lifeblood of a fast growing startup. I would even go so far as to say that people are the foundation of every organization, big or small, high-tech startup or huge corporate juggernaut. But the startup world is unique in its constraints and also in its opportunities and thus, the emphasis on building a great team is more important at a startup than in any other organization.

There’s no such thing as overnight success, as much as countless books and movies try to portray well-known entrepreneurs as geniuses. Success is the product of a variety of factors, hard work as much as great and unique skills, the perfect timing and elements outside your control, such as luck. The more you as a founder, CEO or leader can remove the latter from the equation, the better off you and your team will be.

Building a great culture, hiring skilled individuals and forming an amazing team out of it allows you to make your own luck. It’s a lot of hard work but it’s within your control.

Investors Invest in People, Not Ideas

As much as you like your idea and believe that the market conditions are perfect, the truth is that most companies will change and adapt their product down the road. The founding vision of Slack was to build a gameInstagram started out as a Foursquare-like check-in app called ‘Burbn’ and you all know the story of Twitter being a side product of a podcast platform. What all those companies had in common was a strong team that was able to take new ideas and build new products until they were the success they are today. The people working at those companies were able to adapt and change and build a great product. Maybe your company won’t pivot completely, but you will learn, adapt and improve, as you gather feedback from your customers. And the more feedback you incorporate, the better you get.

The ability to do that, to listen to the small feedback between the lines, knowing when to stay stubborn and when to adapt is one of the most important and hardest to learn skills for a founder.

Great investors, angels and VCs, know that and despite the importance of a potential big market, an important enough to be solved problem, the team is the key reason why they will eventually invest.

Early On, Every Hire is Crucial

Summarizing a successful startup in one sentence is simple: Great people build great products, get great customers and eventually will build a great company. As simple as it sounds, doing it right is incredibly difficult. You will face a lot of challenges in the early days of your company and the more successful you are, the bigger your team gets, the harder it gets to keep your team members aligned and your company on track. The one thing that you should keep in mind is that at the end of the day, everything, good or bad is caused by the people in your team. Empowering your team and getting out of the way is key but it’s only possible if you hire the right people.

Small companies don’t have the luxury of making a lot of mistakes. You are always resource constrained, both money and people, and despite not having enough you have to build a great product, nail the distribution and find a viable business model. This can all work out great if you did your job well and found great co-workers, but it can also go sideways instantly if you did a poor job. Nothing is more dangerous for an early-stage startup than one bad hire, one person who isn’t a culture fit or who is simply not good enough at their job. Even if you together resolve the situation fast, you will get distracted, most probably won’t build a great product during that time and lose a lot of time.

Bad hiring is one of the most risky and costly mistakes you can make in a startup.

Great People Attract Great People

Nothing is more attractive for talented job seeker than a team full of really skilled co-workers. Despite all the potential problems of a bad hire, the huge upside if you do it right is tremendous. With every great person that you can convince to join your team, your team gets better and it will also get easier to attract the next person. Hiring is a self-fulfilling prophecy and therefore gets simpler over time. The hard part obviously is to get everything started. How to hire the first employee if you don’t have an amazing team that everybody is talking about?

Solving this chicken-egg problem is crucial for getting your company off the ground. The good news is that you already have a team, even before your first hire. You and your co-founder(s) are already a team (which is one of a countless long list of reasons why you shouldn’t found a company alone). You found your first follower, you did the hard first step already. Maybe, you even managed to get a small investment or you convinced somebody to be your advisor. You will have a team long before you have hired for first employee, although it might not feel like that.

Culture is More Than the Sum of Every Team Member

Even if you hire only smart individuals, despite their respective skill sets you won’t automatically create a high-performing team. Great teams are generally a group of amazing individuals mixed together in the right way. The glue between the outstanding senior engineer and the young up and coming designer, the magic that makes sales work well with product is having the right culture.

Culture is not about free food, nice X-mas parties or other perks. It’s about shared values and beliefs, the common ground of every discussion and the bigger reason why you are all working on the same idea.

Great culture makes you win, great culture will help tremendously to survive tough times. Having a great culture will simply make you feel that it’s easy to build a successful company.

The importance of culture heavily impacts your hiring. Every single person you bring on in the early days changes your culture, in a good or bad way. Figuring out if somebody is a culture fit, if somebody is the right person for your team instead of finding the best person is crucial. Although culture is defined by your team, by every single individual, you still have to work hard on it and you won’t get it automatically by hiring right.

Your job as a leader is to facilitate discussions, offer a vision and set the guard rails. Nothing defines culture more than actions and your team can’t take any actions if you don’t provide the guidance they need.

Cultural fit is really important for every new hire but it’s only working if your culture is great. That won’t be the case all the time. You will face times where your culture starts getting sideways, where you can’t be as proud of your company as you wish you could be. Especially in those moments it’s important that you critically challenge the status quo. What’s great, what’s broken? If your culture is broken and you’re blindly hiring with an emphasis of culture fit, your culture will actually get worse. You can’t use your culture as a safeguard if it’s broken.

As much as great people, a great culture attract more great people and can result in a better culture, as much as it can go into the opposite direction. Be aware of your own bias.

Hiring is a Skill and It Should Be Your Most Important One

Hiring is not magic, it’s not luck, it’s a skill. Some people are better with it from their first job on, others not. Maybe you are but if not, you can learn it and even if you do great right now you should still work hard every day to improve. The faster you figure out if somebody fits into your team, the faster you can evaluate the skills of an applicant, the better it’s for you and your company. Even more important in today’s hiring market, the better you are in convincing people to join your team, in selling your vision, the better people will eventually work for you. Again, it gets easier over time to more great people are working for you.

It’s important to understand that it’s not just about you interviewing a candidate. You have to design a hiring process that involves your team, that gives the candidate a lot of opportunity to evaluate you as well. Every growing company faced the same challenge and you can learn a lot from the best practises of the industry, from companies that did a great job with hiring and also from companies who failed. Luckily, now more than ever, startups are willing to share their journey starting with small insights and some tactical advice as far as being completely transparent like Buffer. Take the opportunity and learn from those companies and their failures and successes.

Don’t forget that you are always hiring. It doesn’t matter if you are doing a job interview in your office or if you are at a friends party. You are always leaving an impression, if you want or not. Maybe you aren’t looking for anybody right now but you surely will in the future. Or at your next job or company.

Making sure that you always have a big pool of great people to work with will set you up for success — and since it’s all about the people, it will make the difference between being successful or not. Always be hiring.

A shorter version of this post was originally published in