Tag Archives: #success

Culture @ NTR Lab: bonding

Our company loves company events. We have regular monthly pizza parties to celebrate colleagues’ birthdays, guitar playing parties, as well as others kinds of entertainment, such as visiting an extreme park, going to restaurants, etc.

No matter the event, the most important thing is that we do it together. It is typical for us to create a spreadsheet and discuss organizational issues for a forthcoming event.

This summer we also had some outdoors gatherings. Two of the most recent ones were held in Moscow, for our headquarters staff, and the other in Tomsk, for the development staff.

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Demystifying Product/Market Fit

by Nick Mikhailovsky, CEO and Co-Founder of NTRLab.

Фото Коли для поста (блог)

Marc Andreessen said, “…the life of any startup can be divided into two parts – before product/market fit and after product/market fit.” It’s a kind of magic thing, without which a startup stands little chance of success. That said, how do you define it beyond “you know it when you see it?”

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Why and How to Hire Well


”I would even go so far as to say that people are the foundation of every organization, big or small, high-tech startup or huge corporate juggernaut.  But the startup world is unique in its constraints and also in its opportunities and thus, the emphasis on building a great team is more important at a startup than in any other organization.”Moritz Plassnig, co-founder/CEO of Codeship

A few years ago, the Young Entrepreneur Council identified Ten startup hiring challenges with different entrepreneurs suggesting solutions. If you scan through them you’ll notice that most are a function of poor candidate fit.

Poor candidate fit is most often the result of a lack of preparation and poor interviewing skills.

Hiring success is, as with most endeavors, in the prep and paying attention to details. You need good execution, but without the prep you are winging it and it’s likely that the seat-of-your-pants will come up short. Above all, you need to own this: if you don’t do the prep, don’t complain when your hires don’t work out.

Prep includes, but is not limited to

  • A comprehensive description of the job, skills needed, experience wanted, attitude (see Branson below); not an idealized wish list, but a pragmatic view of a good candidate.
  • Competent interviewing skills, which are learned, not inborn. Recognizing/accepting that good hiring requires time and committing to spend the time to do it right. A sworn oath not to lead the witness (candidate) by asking questions that suggest the answer or contain the information you want to hear. Not getting caught in the charm trap (as explained last week).
  • Personally checking references to learn what was missed in the interview, not to confirm the stuff you liked.

Here is more good hiring info.

Robert Herjavec wrote a good post on hiring that covers many bases.

Learn the secret sauce to Intuitive Research’s success; a 16-year-old aerospace engineering firm that has never had any openings or layoffs.

Laszlo Bock, Google’s SVP of People Operations banned the brain-buster questions that Google used to brag about as being worthless in determining a good hire. “Part of the reason is that those are tests of a finite skill, rather than flexible intelligence which is what you actually want to hire for. (It had already jettisoned the hiring algorithm it bragged about in 2007.)

Richard Branson hires for attitude, “In my eyes, personality always wins over book smarts. Company knowledge and job-specific skills can be learned, but you can’t train a personality.  Spanx’s CEO Sara Blakely once said to me: “The smartest thing I ever did in the early days was to hire my weaknesses.” I couldn’t agree more. I can attribute a lot of my success in business to hiring people who had the skills I lacked.

Robert Siegel, general partner at XSeed Capital and lecturer in organizational behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, makes the case for incorporating viable HR practices from the beginning. “The single largest issue that causes the most emotional heartache in a startup is people challenges. Every organization has them. If you put best HR practices into place in the earliest days and are doing the right things right, you’ll have fewer and fewer issues and blowups.”

One final idea to digest.

You may think you are building a company, but there is really no such entity. What you are building is a group of people moving in the same direction and committed to a shared vision and set of values — and it only take one or two bad hires to screw the whole thing up.

Image credit: Shutterstock