Hiring Hurdles

They say one of the toughest parts of running a company is managing all the human resource issues that invariably come up. However, I would say in India the toughest part is hiring people. We recently wanted to hire a technical person so we did the usual by using an online job site to find someone.  We got flooded with over 300 resumes and had to sift through them to find the gems, in the end we found 10 gems. We emailed them all and five responded back saying they would be available on an interview on Saturday. The big day came and only one person arrived and that candidate was clearly under qualified with an over-inflated resume.  It was a waste of time and resources for everyone involved.

Now, suppose all the interviews are done you would think all the heavy lifting would be done…wrong.  Now, you have to wait and hope the person you have extended an offer to actually shows up.  This is where it really gets crazy, because you might call the person several times and they will give you an excuse they are sick or someone else is sick.  Most people will not come out and say they don’t want to join your company, they just string you along till you stop calling. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about this and it’s back to the whole recruiting process again.

So what do we do now? Job portals do work for many people but we decided it was not worth our time and effort to screen the candiates so now we use an outside recruiter. The recruiter screens the candidates and makes sure they show up for the interview. We also conduct a pre-interview phone call, this helps us establish the candidates speaking skills and whether they can communicate clearly. There is no point in having people spend time traveling to our office and then realize they can’t communicate effectively. With these two changes we have been more effective and the hiring process doesn’t seem so daunting as before.

The above article originally appeared on GQindia.com.

Learn to Trade from a Master

Within the trading community Trader Vic is a legend. The intersection of financial markets and technology has always fascinated me and Victor Sperandeo has married the two into a highly successful career.

Victor recently announced he was going to give back to the community and teach a lucky few how to trade using his proprietary trading methods. Even more exciting, is my ex-colleague Michael Martin will be presenting with him. Mike and I launched India’s first algo/quant commodity fund back in the day.

The Master Class will be taught in Manhattan in early Feb 2011, if you want more information I recommend checking out Mike’s website – MartinKronicle.

Hiding From the Pain

With so many things to think about when starting a company, entrepreneurs tend to overlook scalability of secondary areas such as marketing.  Every business has different scalability pain points – if you run an internet business then computing resources is the main issue whereas if you run a retail store then floor space is an issue.

The most common response to these secondary areas is “we’ll get to it later.” However, if you don’t pay attention to these issues, they just get bigger and could end up costing you more money. For some companies marketing is not their main expertise so they might throw some money at Google AdWords and passively watch the analytical data. Now, what happens if they decide to increase their marketing budget by 10x? If the current marketing plan is not optimized then you can imagine what will happen when they really want to crank up the ad spend. In this example, it makes sense to analyze the advertising data and slowly scale up the marketing spend.

It’s hard to believe but some companies even neglect their basic pain points. Friendster one of the first social networking sites was launched in 2002 and quickly become very popular. It was so popular that the site would be inaccessible for hours because of the amount of traffic it was receiving.  After many months of sporadic outages many people became frustrated and soon found a new home at MySpace. As a sidenote, all the patents that were issued to Friendster over the years were recently sold to Facebook.

Building a company with scalability in mind at all levels might seem idealistic but that’s what separates million dollar companies from billion dollar companies.

The above article originally appeared on GQindia.com.

Lost in the Herd?

So, you dream up this great product/service that you think everyone will use. Then you start to search on the internet and realize many similar products already exist. Since, most entrepreneurs are not creating new markets but instead improving on an existing product/service what do you do?

The first option is to come up with many reasons why your product offering will not succeed and might require too much effort.  The second option is what separates dreamers from entrepreneurs, who decide to take the challenge and absolutely believe they can make it work “this time.” A prime example is Gmail, before Gmail most of us were relegated to the sub-standard offerings from Hotmail, Yahoo and the many other free email services.  The lead developer, Paul Buchheit, felt he could improve on email and once Gmail was introduced it was a success with the tech-savvy crowd. Granted, Paul had the backing of Google whereas many start-ups don’t have that luxury. But, he also had to achieve massive success or it would have been considered a failure within Google.

For startups without the backing of a large company like Google it can be daunting to enter an existing market with many players. But that is the challenge and thrill that many entreprenuers yearn for, the ability to differentiate their company in a crowded field and succeed. Some call it a risky strategy but without risk their is no reward. Usually the reward is monetary but it can also bring notoriety among peers or too a much larger audience. The idea of entering a crowded market is similar to looking at a glass of water – is it half full or half empty? It’s all about the individuals perspective.

The above article originally appeared on GQindia.com.