Cash-Strapped Startups Get Tech-Talent by Being Creative, Flexible

Matthew Patane reported on the front page of the business section in yesterday’s Des Moines Register that, “When Higher Learning Technologies was looking for more people to write code, it wasn’t simply a matter of hiring more employees, co-founder Adam Keune said.

“‘We’re a startup,’ Keune said. ‘We can’t just go out and hire 13 engineers or, say, eight engineers (when) every software engineer is going to make at least a minimum of probably $100,000 a year and up to way more than that if you’re out on the coast.'”

Mr. Patane noted that, “So the Coralville company, which makes study and educational apps, turned to a paid summer internship program, bringing in nine students it could train to write code the way the company needed it.”

The Register article explained that, “Internships, relying on ‘company culture’ and finding other creative ways of recruiting, all are ways that Iowa’s startups and smaller companies will need to utilize to compete for tech talent, job market and economic development watchers said.

“Since they may be cash-strapped and unable to offer the usual benefits or higher salaries, those smaller firms need to find other means to make themselves attractive.”

Sunday’s article indicated that, “[Stacey Singleton, regional vice president for Robert Half Technology] said companies, small startups and large corporations alike, are embracing more creative ways to recruit. That includes offering more ‘soft perks’ like flexible hours, more remote working options, increased mentorship and free lunches.

“The tight market, she said, has also made some companies shorten hiring decisions.

“And some companies such as Dwolla offer unlimited vacation, stock options to give employees a stake in the company and more informal dress codes.”

Mr. Patane added that, “One advantage Iowa companies may be able to offer, [Mark Nolte, president of the Iowa City Area Development Group] said, is a better work-life balance than workers in Silicon Valley would find. Instead of churning through employees, Iowa’s companies need to ensure employees are taken care of, he said…[A]nother perk [Kasey McCurdy, vice president of engineering for Bunchball] said smaller businesses can provide: the ability for individual employees to affect the direction of the company.”

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