Recruiting 101 with Morgan Missen of Foursquare

How do you build a great startup team? This week’s visitor Morgan Missen of Foursquare knows the secret sauce:


  • Hire the most talented people you can find.
  • Give them everything they need to be successful.
  • Get out of the way.

“When you’re in a startup, the first ten people will determine whether the company succeeds or not.” -Steve Jobs


Here are 5 strategies (in order) for that first ingredient:

1. Create a recruiting culture. Collaborative recruiting is the best way to recruit. The whole team should always be looking for the next hire.

2. Build a Brand. Define your brand. Your startup will be an extension of yourself. Project your message, expand your network and put yourself out there.

3. Set up shop. Create the necessary funnels for applications.  Pro tip: create and right this minute. Use google docs to create an application or check out some free applicant tracking systems (ATS) solutions:, smart or

4. Find talent. Set up employee referrals, leverage your network, use internal or external recruiters, and our personal favorite- throw a party! Social events can be a great way to get to know candidates, and let them get to know the team.

5. Give every offer in person. Follow up with calls or notes from different employees involved in the interview process.  Added bonus: have investors, advisors, or partners reach out.  Make the candidate feel special, wanted, and part of the team.

Show me the money!
Now that you have an interested candidate, what is the best way to handle compensation? You may not be able to offer a large salary, but you also don’t want to give away too much of the pie (equity). Given the choice, most people tend to prefer a higher amount of equity with a lower salary then vice versa– so find the sweet spot and offer a combination. Morgan recommends saving big chunks of equity for technical employees, those that can scale the product.

One final piece of advice: abr. always. be. recruiting.