Building Great Tech Teams

More than 100 startup founders, CTO and leaders gathered at San Francisco's General Assembly on September 12th 2017 to participate in a panel discussion with Jeff Tannenbaum (Investor @ BlueRune Ventures), Shivani Sharma (Senior Engineering Manager @ Slack), Kelly Kinnard (Talent VP @ Battery Ventures) and Matej Matolin (Talent Partner @ STRV).

banner of the event


Based on a study by Sequoia Capital a successful CEO should spend minimum 19 hours per week with hiring.

Jeff: The number one question I have in my head when meeting with a new founder - is this person’s charisma and passion big enough to excite others to follow him? If yes, this is the person I want to invest in.

Jeff: Majority of your time you should be spending on hiring as a co-founder. Once you make an incredible hire- you can delegate. It ultimately saves you hundreds of hours.

Shivani: When I started at Slack, I spent over 50% of my time going through resumes and calibrating the recruitment process.

building great tech teams event in San Francisco by STRV


Matej: To attract the best talent you need to build your own personal brand. Candidates will always google you and they want to work with an inspirational person. Personal brand costs nothing but time and it could generate you a new influx of the talent.

Kelly: You need to treat recruiting like dating. Think about touch points with the candidate
Passion and integrity is what candidates gonna look for when choosing the next employer. They need to believe in you.

Shivani: Talented people are looking for technical challenges and you need to be able to explain them to candidates. They are not looking for something easy. High performers like to be challenged.

building great tech teams event in San Francisco by STRV


Kelly: Many companies that could be in the bay area are moving away in Phoenix, Austin, Salt Lake City, Denver. They don't need to fight with such a crazy competition and can still make great hires.

Matej explained STRV hires people all around the world and relocate them to Prague. Good relocation package and in-person recruitment events in targeted countries help us to stand out of the crowd. If you do just Skype interviews and offer remote work, you do what thousands of companies do.


Jeff: I always ask at what age they started coding. When they started coding in college it’s fine, but I want people who have been doing it since he was a kid.

Shivani described the recruitment process at Slack: First, we have a screening process, then test project for home which should take around 2 hours. After the phone screen, there's an on-site screening for both level and background. The most important thing is to call out the criteria - what is a good answer for this and what bad. Everyone has guidelines. It is a little bit more methodological.

Jeff: It absolutely changes the process if you show the candidate that you gonna call every single former employer. It is not always the case afterwards, but it makes people really to stop pretending anything and be honest with you.

building great tech teams event in san francisco by STRV


Shivani: Good leaders are not afraid to admit making mistakes. Leaders must be open and humble and people would follow them.

Kelly: To hire a management level you always look for reputation, back channel and referencing. Always ask about mentoring experience, because best leaders take the mentoring as a mission.


Shivani: During onboarding, every new hire receives Slack socks and Slack jacket. They have a week-long onboarding process- values, a packet which explains who is who, interesting articles about Slack. Every new hire receives company and technical onboarding buddy. It helps them but it is also a great way to have on an organic mixing of people.

Matej: It is about small things that people don’t expect. For the very top candidates, we give them an Uber voucher. For new hires - we print their name on 3D printer, we go to pickup the new person at the airport and many other small things..


Jeff: Who: The A Method for hiring from Geoff Smart and Randy Street. This book gives great advice on how to interview.

Matej: Book that I would recommend is Start with why from Simon Sinek. Recruitment is all about explaining to candidates, why they should join you.

Kelly: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Book by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg

Share Article


STRV is a software design & engineering company. Our job is to unlock new opportunities by leveraging the latest technologies and the bravest people for clients of all shapes and sizes.

You might also like...