Tech’s Got Talent — Or, Does It?

Startup founders often turn to hybrid management solutions to put together their teams, but is this always the right strategy when trying to turn an app into a huge company with traction? How can founders solve this problem? Microsoft Blogger Yuriy Zaytsev, who is responsible for startup engagement and recruitment in Central and Eastern Europe, says that app companies may not have all the right talent to create a smashing success. 

One of the things I have loved about this year’s European BizSpark Summit is the focus on creating an environment that nurtures early stage businesses.  A lot of us in tech world love to think technology is critical – but there’s a lot more to turning an idea into a success story.

The session on talent got straight to the point – how do you find great people who will make this success story with you? We heard from Jerome S Engel (Adjunct Professor, Haas School of Business, University of California), Neil Gandhi (series entrepreneur and investor), Nick Thain (CEO of fast growing UK company Sports New Media) and Mark Gillet, Corporate Vice President, Skype Product Engineering & Operations, Microsoft.

The panel pointed out a couple of big hurdles.  In many countries (like UK) there’s already a dearth of technical talent out there and demand growth continues to outstrip available talent. At the same time in other markets for example in Eastern Europe there’s a lot of highly qualified technical talent.

Then there is the big question – do app companies have their unique needs? Most of these start with a small core team, usually with hybrid workers who are design/dev/ops/test all in one. But here’s the danger: very few individuals tick all those boxes very well.  And as the company grows, finding more good people is essential to preventing lack-of-talent from turning into a barrier that could cripple a young company. When (and if…) do you specialize? How to get all the skills seamlessly matched in a team, how to get chemistry working?

So what is the answer?  The panellists didn’t have a single silver bullet, but I liked their suggestions.  Modular team design, spread across multiple locations makes it possible to mix and match strengths of local talent markets. Using different recruiting channels is a must – mix of social, rewards to internal referrals, good old external search. Big part of finding talent is about selling the job – team leads who are doing it well can pick the best talent. “Do you want to build software used by millions of users” – this gets attention.

Everyone agreed on the importance of core skills – finding them is hard, but it’s well worth the effort. Get people who have them, nurture them and give them opportunity to grow – that’s a recipe for success.

Whether you agree with him or not, I’ll give the last word to Skype’s Mark Gillett, who says that the problem for the app economy is ‘Human Capital’ not ‘Venture Capital’.

Yuriy Zaytsev is with Microsoft’s Central & Eastern European headquarters, and is in charge of startup engagement and recruiting all kind of partners to develop solutions on Windows Azure.

Yuriy has over 15 years of experience in high tech in various roles in startup, consulting and multinationals.

 Previously in Microsoft Yuriy held several roles in audience marketing, partner & channel development and enterprise sales. Prior to Microsoft Yuriy delivered strategy consulting projects while at Analysys in UK, ran technical pre-sales team for Oracle in Ukraine, and founded his own company. Yuriy holds PhD in Applied Mathematics from Kiev University and MBA from INSEAD.

Skip to main content