How to recruit my precious engineers to my startup?

As I decided to start KonoLabs with my admire co-founders, my top priority was to find great engineers for my team. Everyone said it would be the most difficult part to start a business. 


First, I started to announce that I am looking for startup members, mainly engineers. I asked my family, friends, alumni, and x-colleagues whoever I could reach out. I was trying to knock the multiple channels as well. I posted on my Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and I sent a lot of cold emails & messages. Whenever someone introduced engineers or got answers for my cold calls, I quickly scheduled interviews and sent the prompt replies. 


As I was an engineer before, I thought I know what they want and what is the formula for them to gauge risks and returns.  I was trying to appeal my vision, business idea, and my engineer background. As a startup, I could not promise good compensations, but I tried to promote the future value of our company. My CTO, Martin and myself had been working for the representative ICT companies in Korea, so it was not too difficult to reach out several engineers. However recruiting engineers was not easy at all. Some engineers listened to my pitch and just ask about only compensation. Some people asked me a higher position for the tiny startup. As I didn’t want to set up any hierarchy inside the company, I refused them. Some interviews were time wasted, and some engineers were under my expectation. 


I met Jaehee, our iOS engineer by my brother’s intro. My brother, a Game project manager told me, "If I will start my own business, I will work with her." I called her immediately. She had been working for virtual reality and game development area over the last 10 years. She wanted to be a mobile engineer because she felt the game industry was already saturated and she was skeptical about the future. I thought good engineers can learn skills, new languages, and SDKs in a short term, but it takes a long time to learn basic knowledge such as algorithms, programming logics, and basic mechanism. That’s why I believed her, even she had no experience to build any iOS app before. I offered to be an iOS engineer for my startup. Now I know I was right. She is mostly leading client development and became a great iOS app builder. 


In order to find Android developer, I just sent a couple of cold messages to engineers having the interesting profile on LinkedIn. In Korea, because of the highest penetration of Android, Android developers are more than iOS. I contacted several Android engineers and developers on LinkedIn, and Some engineers answered me. Among the candidates, Jinwoo had been interested in startup, and we agreed to work together at the first meeting. He had  over 4-year experience to build Android apps. Regarding the short history of Android phones, his experience was long enough. 


One day, one of my co-founders, Jung-hee introduced two guys. One is Joon, the Ph.D candidates of KAIST which is a sort of MIT in Korea. :)  As his preliminary researches were about machine learning, data analyses, and many others related to our topic, we felt we need to have him. He actually tried to do his own startup, but he had got negative feedback from VCs and investors. As he decided to join a good and tech-based startup to work, so we could invite him as a research engineer. After he joined our team, we invited his professor as our advisor to guide our technology evolvement. 


When Jung-hee had his biz trip to California, he met Daniel, our product manager. After his biz trip, Jung-hee told me, “I met a good guy”. He did his own startup in Chicago and it was the Mobile Scheduler! Even though his first startup was not successful, he tried to solve the same problem we were seeing. I thought his trials & errors would be beneficial for us. Of course, the first impression was also pretty humble and confident.  Because of Daniel, I think we could save a lot of time. 


Three of us, co-founders started to do our startup, Konolabs with these awesome 4 members. 

After then, RJ, our server engineer, and Jen, our UI/UX designer joined, so we were able to build a fast, learnable, and lean development cycle. 


We are still an early stage of the startup, but I think I am lucky to meet these awesome guys and work together. 


The official team introduction: http://kono.ai/team/

The real photos of our team: http://kono.ai/life-at-konolabs/

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