How Do You Get Great Experienced Engineers To Join Your Startup?

About one month after our company went operational, we decided to have an open house. The idea was my cofounders and I would ask our friends to stop by and check out our office. Hopefully, we could convince some of them to join us.

Jeroen, our VP Engineering, much to my surprise invited Greg and Matt to the open house. Greg and Matt were two of my favorite engineers from Maxim, and it would be a coup for us to get either one to join the company.

Greg and Matt were two of the best engineers in our industry, but their skills as engineers were different.

Greg: A creative genius.

His idea was, at the time, about 100X lower in drift than anything on the market. We would dominate the market if we could actually produce the product.

However, we were never able to get the product to market after years of trying. That was the deal with Greg in those early days; you either won big or you flamed out.

As time went on, Greg’s flame outs became less and less frequent. And Greg, who had never been that driven by revenue in the early days, became much more pragmatic. By the time we spoke at the open house, he had a great combination of engineering skill and pragmatism.

Matt: An excellent engineer who was organized.

Maybe he didn’t hit as many home runs as Greg did, but he was just really, really solid. Plus Matt had one skill that Greg didn’t have; Matt knew how to apply best standards for an engineering team.

Years earlier, when I took over running Maxim’s telecom business in Oregon, I had Matt help me apply best practices to the engineering organization. Matt did a great job.

There was also one skill they both shared: They were able to mentor younger engineers.

You don’t need a huge number of engineering managers when you’re just starting out. However, having senior engineers who are willing to share their knowledge and teach is almost as valuable.

We ended up hiring Greg. Matt decided to retire.

We went into a conference room and negotiated a deal that made sense right on the spot. Greg joined us one month later.

Greg was everything you could ask for in an early stage startup engineer.

He hit home run after home run for us. Just incredible execution on his part. Plus he readily shared his knowledge with the engineering team. The result was an explosion of ideas that led to patents, that led to great products.

Oh, and Greg was an excellent recruiter too.

Put all that together, and it doesn’t get much better.

For more, read: How Do You Get Talent From Facebook Or Google To Join Your Company?

I work with startup CEOs to help them grow their businesses . I built several businesses from $0 to >$100M. Learn more at

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