After HBO’s launch of season three of Silicon Valley this May, we realized something… Talent Tech Labs isn’t too far off base with what The Hollywood Reporter describes as ‘squirm-worthy awkwardness’. Silicon Valley is a television series about a diverse gang of computer geniuses kicking off an incredibly valuable compression algorithm. The brainy bunch resides in what appears nothing less than a college bachelor pad, stuffed with five huge brains, killer wifi, lots of ramen noodles and all you can chug energy drinks. While these soon-to-be billionaires have poor health choices, what they are doing 100% right is their business structure. A structure we hold near and dear considering the scary similarities to the origin story of Talent Tech Labs.
T.J. Miller (Erlich Bachman), the Jonathan Kestenbaum (that’s me!) of this quirky startup Pied Piper, is the residence owner of the pad and often refers to his ‘nest’ as the Pied Piper incubator, a hub and mentor-style structure for startup businesses. As much as we love talking about the ever-so-hilarious Silicon Valley, we’re really here to praise this incubator/mentor startup structure Pied Piper decided to run with, because while this is a television series and tactics/successes are generally exaggerated, we’re living proof that this structure works, and you don’t need a killer algorithm and a best friend to get there. Here’s how both Talent Tech Labs and Silicon Valley are tearing down long-sacred startup mythology:
Funding is not the only goal
Pied Piper (the company on Silicon Valley) could have had it all, an immediate check, signed and done, had they decided to sell the company to billionaire Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) for $10 million. But the businessmen took an interesting twist, to accept a business offer with investor and mentor, Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch), offering $200,000. This seemingly lunatic business deal sounds completely off balance, but the shy $200,000 Gregory offered Pied Piper is paying for more than the company’s algorithm. It’s giving them the opportunity to get the mentorship and rich company culture they could never achieve with $10 million and no company.
While stories about big funding rounds make the papers, we believe that the basis for a great company is about creating a company that solves problems and finds and services paying customers. Crazy idea?
Maybe you’re not facing $10 million business deals, but this ballsy move has some rhyme to the reason. We’re here to tell you exactly why Hendricks so generously walked away from this healthy hunk of cash.
Like Hendricks and Bachman, we have a vision of our own. In our case, it was to empower the talent acquisition industry with more than just dynamics and progression, but passion, which is the true pillar of building your startup into something magnificent. Today, we track over 1,200 talent acquisition companies. How?
Two secrets: tight company culture and incubator systems for companies looking for the right product market, a vast mentor network and their proprietary beta testing group. Sure, we offer all the same things as other incubators: exposure to venture capital, a cool co-working space and fast-paced events, but what really sets us apart is our research, which we give to our companies for free. Why?
Pay attention to the user (or the anti-Steve Jobs rhetoric)
At Talent Tech Labs, we’re proud to expose our founders to a mentor network steeped in Talent Acquisition. These people have a long history in this area and help our founders understand the problems facing recruiters, sourcers and hiring managers before they build their products. We take our tight-knit startup culture and bring it to our software and business to business mentoring relations. As a growing business from square one, we had to learn to work directly with one another to create practical solutions. This is exactly the tactic we use when mentoring other businesses in the space. We’ve been at square one, we know the common struggles and best solutions.
This is the opportunity Pied Piper paid for when they accepted the lesser $200,000 from long-running business genius, Peter Gregory. His ideas and direction confuse the young developers at Pied Piper, but the abstractness steered them from making foolish ‘rookie’ mistakes- leading them to loose their business.
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Raising money is not a metric of success
Gasp! It’s true. Producing a product that your target buyer can use and that makes their lives easier? That’s what we advocate at TTL. Instead of taking the easy pay day, we put our companies in front of actual buyers. Many of today’s incubators and startups skip the step between idea and raising money, you know, the part where you create a solid product and case studies for its use?
Pied Piper was a gleaming example of this during the TechCrunch Conference where startups were given the opportunity to sell their product in front of hundreds of investors. They were competing with the evil billionaire, Belson, who now attempting to steal their algorithm with his own team of developers. Now the Pied Piper team had even more to run for. They had to take their initial idea and try to run faster and better than the well-known geniuses at Hooli. Under immense pressure, they were able to take their product from better to best, an opportunity they would have never achieved had they skipped the step between idea and pay day.
Just like Pied Piper in the early stages, they all knew each other as friends, but had to build guidelines and barriers in order to achieve their goals. This came with hardships; working with your friends sounds like a workplace distraction when actually someone working alongside their best friend at work is seven times more likely to engage fully in their work because there is that element of support for your good friend involved. In fact, a Quantum study surveying disengaged employees reported 70% are receiving too little development support from their employers.
Our solution: Work on team building inside and outside of work to start creating those friendships. This breaks down barriers and creates an open brainstorming space. Think about everything you would say in front of your friends compared to the ideas you present to your coworkers. The ideas you bring to your coworkers are likely more reserved because you’re afraid of being judged or thought of differently when in reality, they could be thinking the same thing. Ways to find out? Start small by creating an intranet for employees to chat on and throw ideas around like Slack, Yammer or Bitrix24. Allow for camaraderie and encourage employees to contribute inspirational articles, ideas, fails, wins, praises, all of it. This engaging intranet will give all personality types a safe place to give their 2 cents without feeling judged or worried. From there, you will see the friendly interaction build. Furthermore, this will transfer to their projects and business involvement.
Maybe it’s not on your vision board to open up the startup life Talent Tech Labs and Pied Piper created, but it can be in your path to take their culture and bring it to any size company. Start with teams, then move through departments, until you’ve built a fully functional web of startup culture.
Need more direction with your journey to becoming the next biggest thing in HR tech? Check into our mentoring and coaching services. Not sure where to begin or where to step next? Let our talent acquisition consulting services help.