Questions to ask potential joiners to a start-up

The goal of this post is to help establish some key questions to ask up front to ensure that joiners to our start-up are a good fit.
We have limited financial resources so need to use other incentives like restricted stock agreements, options, sweat equity etc… to ensure joiners are adequately motivated and rewarded. We have identified the core roles we would like to develop and have identified strong candidates. Now we need to make a decision, agree terms and move on.

I’ve had a myriad of advice, most of it has been contradictory, but a few common questions seem to keep popping up. Here is an initial list;
  1. What resources and unique abilities are you able to offer? (i.e. tech, sales, leadership…)
  2. What level of commitment can you offer and for how long?
  3. What are your hopes and dreams for joining a start-up? (money, freedom, success…)
  4. How would you like your success/effort to be measured and rewarded?
  5. What is your ideal ‘Exit Strategy’. Do you want to sell your stake or grow the company long term?
  6. What level of control over the direction of the company do you want?
I’d be very interested to hear what you think. All advice and comments welcome.
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3 thoughts on “Questions to ask potential joiners to a start-up

  1. Looks good… It’s how you interpret the answers that’ll be important..My thoughts:1. You need the "slave" – full commitment. Other project commitments may cause problems when you most need his/her time & resources.2. You want someone who contributes well to the direction of the company, but who will take your opinion and run with it. There can only be one chief.3. Personal circumstance is also worth knowing. How long can the person survive on limited funds?4. Buy in… Think it would concentrate the party’s mind if you made him drop €10k-€20k to purchase an initial share in the company. Do it thru a BES if necessary. Entrepreneurs are gamblers by their nature, most others are not. Most people will find it harder to wave bye bye to €10k rather than to lose 500 hours of time.

  2. I think its a good start. i would try to understand what his vision is for the goal that you want to achieve. Is he as excited as you are about the opportunity? Will he contribute as much time and effort, will he bring new insights, new people on board? What about the time involved – will he be a 9 to 5er?

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