Secrets every founder should know; how to hire the best talent for your startup

Gary Vanbutsele
4 min readFeb 28


As a founder of a startup, hiring the right talent can make or break your business. You need to build a team that is not only skilled but also passionate about your vision and willing to put in the hard work to make it a reality.

To be honest, I didn’t really want to share this because it’s been our secret sauce in terms of hiring, BUT in the interests of integrity and the values of our business, I felt it was right.

And besides, I’ve always held the opinion that if we all grow together, everyone wins. It’s the exact reason I founded our business.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned over the past couple of years;

Leverage your team

We tried to list jobs on LinkedIn. We thought we’d get a ton of CV’s. We did get a ton of CVs, but none of them fitted what we were looking for.

Then it dawned on me to leverage our team. After all, they’d all come from great startups and had worked with great people, so I guessed it was a matter of them leveraging their network.

And it was. Our team has mainly been responsible for bringing in new talent directly through connecting with their personal network or indirectly through social media.

If your hiring strategy isn’t working, change it!

You have to be intentional.

You have to be honest with yourself and your employees.

And then you have to be willing to change your hiring process if it isn’t working for you!

Even with leveraging our team, we needed a new strategy than simply sharing job posts.

We needed to live the culture from the get-go. Yes, our values are to be humbly ambitious, act with integrity, and deliver a caring experience, but we always have fun with what we do.

Our hiring manager began to utilize videos like this to up engagement;

And our team had fun too in creating content for social;

Hire for culture first.

Technical skills and experience are important, but they are not the only things that matter. You also need to evaluate candidates for cultural fit. Look for candidates who share your values and are passionate about your vision. You want to build a team that works well together and is aligned around a common purpose.


Well, to hire for culture first, you have to sell culture first.

And selling your culture is all about showing it, not telling it.

It comes down to everything from, as per the above examples, how you hire, how you interview, and even how you onboard and eventually reward performance once new team members have started.

Be open to looking outside the box

Be open to looking outside the box. Phenomenal talent may come from a different industry or a different field.

Case in point, our front-end developer once worked in construction until he realized that although he was passionate about building things, he wanted to do so in the digital world. Of course, he had the necessary skillset and training, but essentially he came from outside the box.

When you’re looking at a candidate’s resume or LinkedIn profile, it can be tempting to focus on their past experience and education — but these things don’t necessarily tell the whole story about who they are as a person or how well they will fit into your company’s culture.

Instead of solely focusing on what someone has done before (or even what they say about themselves), look deeper into their personality by asking questions about their interests outside of work: “What do you like doing in your spare time?”

These types of questions can reveal whether someone has an authentic passion for something that isn’t necessarily related directly back toward whatever field they studied in college; this kind of enthusiasm shows up during interviews too!

It’s worth the effort

Hiring the best talent for your SaaS startup takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. I can confess we’d be nowhere without our team.

Building a team of passionate, skilled, and aligned individuals is essential to the success of your business.

Want to hear more?

I’m the host of The Unlocking Growth Show, a podcast where we talk all things startup and growth.



Gary Vanbutsele

Co-founder and CEO of Whale. Former founder of an IT services company where every day felt like putting out fires. Now obsessed with unlocking growth!