Sramana: What was the compensation structure of your first employee? How did you balance cash versus equity in the structure?
Arjun Dev Arora: We hired someone who was young with minimal relative experience. There was a small equity portion, but that person was involved on the sales side so we structured a very large upside based on commission. The role involved sales and everything else, so if that person brought in revenues to the company, his cash compensation was very high. The base was low but the upside was huge. We followed that strategy for the first handful of employees. We did everything based on upside potential.
We also hired people who were very excited about being part of a startup. We hired someone from the East Coast who wanted to be part of the San Francisco startup scene. If you have that vision, then learning and growing is also a very important part of the equation for them.
Sramana: You hired your first employee in November. How did your hiring ramp follow from that point on?
Arjun Dev Arora: In 2010 we hired two more people during the first part of the year and another two people in the middle of the year. That gave us a core team of six people that we ran with for about nine months. We then started to scale more aggressively after that. We have hired classes or steps of people. Our latest round of hiring involved five or six people. We have 20 people in the San Francisco office, and we have 10 other contractors outside of this area.
Sramana: What is the distribution between business and tech?
Arjun Dev Arora: In our case, the majority is focused on business. We used a few firms outside to help manage the technical implementations. We do a lot of the product work in-house. We have started bring more of that in-house. We found that by leveraging partners for our technical implementations, we were more capital efficient.
Sramana: What are some of your best practices and recommendations in terms of hiring outside companies or contractors?
Arjun Dev Arora: We are the most passionate about our value set. That defines our decisions. We have a clearly defined value set. We focus on the long-term relationship. These are values we live by. When hiring internally or externally, we look to those values to guide our decision.
Sramana: How did you find the contractors and companies that you hired?
Arjun Dev Arora: Usually they come through our network. The San Francisco startup community is a small place. The last firm we hired was one we met through a small conference. We got to know them and have a lot of respect for what they do.
Sramana: Do you have any parting thoughts or words of wisdom?
Arjun Dev Arora: The biggest takeaway for me has been defining a clear value set, building a nurturing a solid network, and focusing on personal growth. I spend a lot of time reading about leadership. I want to help motivate people, encourage them to achieve things they never thought they could, and help them to continue their self-improvement.
Sramana: Wonderful! Thank you for sharing your story.