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How To Find The Next Unicorn . . .

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September 11, 2018

How To Find the Next Unicorn . . .

Interestingly, we’re not talking about the next South Florida 100X breakout company (or the  conversation topic du jour with your toddler).

The next unicorn is that almost-perfect-yet-missing member of your team whose expertise and experience is critically important to scaling your venture.  Or, at least that is how many senior leaders and founders often describe their upcoming hires.

In reality, there are no unicorns.  Just people who are the right fit for the right position at the right time. Yet, all to often, we search and search for the candidate who we believe can do no wrong and fix all ills.

Not only is such an approach unfair to your recruitment process, but, it is a mindset that creates a selection bias sure to impose unrealistic expectations on your evaluation of new hire candidates.

So this week, in part because the Venture Café Miami crew is growing (yes, check out our open positions here),  we are sharing a few thoughts to take into consideration when expanding your team.

Burn Baby, Burn
With most startups and small business, it’s not uncommon to have many fires burning at once.   Avoid the temptation of permitting the current five-alarm fires to commandeer your hiring strategy.  Instead, as Selina Tobaccowala, Co-Founder of eVite and Gixo, cautions: look for firefighters who can distinguish knowing which problems not to solve and which problems must be solved. At any level, the ability to remain nimble, yet think critically, prioritize with efficacy, and achieve progress are valuable skills to keep a sharp eye out for.

Sink or Swim
Though somewhat controversial, Barry Diller, Chair and Sr. Executive of InterActiveCorp, suggests “if you hire people at senior positions you are a failure.”  Will your organization embrace a culture of talent development or stay focused filling the needs of individual positions within your org chart?  As to the former, sink or swim organizations hire folks for growth.  Often, they advance the perspective that grit and an eagerness to take on challenges trumps relative inexperience.

Show & Tell:  As with most relationships (and new hires are no exception), it’s hard to tell if there’s a match at first sight.  Not to mention that our decision making is susceptible to over 175 different cognitive biases that shape how we think, act, and process information:

So what’s a helpful solution?  Try a combination of interviews from different teams within your company, a project or demonstration day, as well as personality or skills based inventory assessments like StrengthFinder, social styles, or other personality tests.  Whatever your perfect formula,  the goal is to design a multi-step evaluation that balances the need to identify core qualities (which are typically subjective) and objective measures of capacity to perform.


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