Archive for December, 2007

December 20, 2007

Launching Rev 0.1 Boston Startup Career Site

We are excited to send out the first public invitations to Genotrope. The site is fully functional and ready for you to submit your resume to the hundreds of companies hiring for thousands of jobs here in the Boston area. So as we move into the holiday season, after you Elf Yourself , check out Genotrope and let us know what you think.

December 7, 2007

Let the good times roll

A recent article in the Boston area techblog xConomy points out that the job market is back and the war for talent in emerging technology is waging once more.

December 4, 2007

“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”

Yesterday a comment  on this blog made me realize it was time to come out of stealth and let people know who is behind Genotrope.  Since we depend on our users trust, a user agreement and privacy policy are not enough information if it seems there is something to hide. So let me say that I have updated the about pages of our blogs and will change the About Page in Genotrope to reflect who is behind our pet project known as Genotrope.

Sincerely, Tom Summit

December 4, 2007

Announcing New Credit Point System for data contribution

We have just added a Credit Point system to track and give feedback to users for adding to our peer produced database of start up and emerging technology companies. Once we go live with our first release, Genotrope will reward the top user contributors with Scwhag and other tokens of gratitude.

As we branch out to other cities we will be seeking Autocrats among the Top Contributor Users to help seed the database in the other top start up cities.

December 4, 2007

The Genotropic approach to building organizations.

The Genotropic approach to building organizations.

geno- : genus : kind kin : a group united by a common interest or common characteristics
tro·pism : a natural inclination

Simply put, companies are comprised of individuals that share some common traits, goals and backgrounds. They have been attracted to their companies because of these commonalities and will be inclined to move to the next company that offers them a similarly comfortable environment.

I’m a recruiter. I have been a recruiter at start up companies for almost 20 years. I’ve seen or heard most of it, but I like to learn and I like to think about how to improve the process. One day, I was doing some competitive analysis on my industry and I plugged ‘recruit’ into a search engine. For the most part I got the typical job boards and career sites, but one of the entries was related to microbiology. From that point I found that this domain uses the term recruit pertaining to cells trying to attract specific cells to perform a specific function. This was notable because at the time, I was also thinking how the process of companies and groups spawning other companies, growing, coming together, splitting, and recombining can be described using genetic language.

As all that was mixing around in the back of my mind, I read an article that talked about changing how we should view the world. In the industrial age our taxonomy was based upon a mechanistic model. Now, in the information age, we should follow a biological model. At that point, I knew why this was making sense and I began to formulate the Genotropic principle to describe how companies form and grow.

First, let me say that I have a very low tolerance for B…sh.., so even attempting to write this has me questioning my own convictions. However, this is not a scientific endeavor and as long as it makes a good read and provokes some thought, I will be happy.

The heuristic for our analysis will be to describe a company’s growth as a biological phenomenon. Then, by using terms from the fields of microbiology and genetics, explain the process and variables effecting how companies acquire that ever so elusive resource badly named “human capital”. Once we have described how these terms relate to building companies, we can apply that understanding to improve the success rate of attracting, hiring and retaining employees.

Companies exhibit growth like organisms do. Organizations incorporate individuals into powerful forces with a common goal just as small polyps measured in centimeters, form some of the largest structures known on earth, the coral reefs. Every day, VC’s “breed” companies by adding a key individual to a team or combining two start up groups pursuing similar markets to become one entity.

I found it very interesting the there is a term from genetics ,”the founder effect” , which describes a small group breaking off from the larger population to form a smaller group. One of the exercises I have always thought would be useful is to create a map or family tree of start up companies. Although this is a huge undertaking, I would love to help any academic institutions up to the challenge. Once created, it would be evident that certain companies are at the root and that the branches and leaves contain some elements of the root companies.

If you view the core team as a company’s DNA you can then observe specific traits and characteristics exhibited by the organization. One company’s engineering team profile might look something like this; micro biology degrees from Harvard, worked at the Whitehead Institute then Genzyme, enjoy bicycle racing. Another’s might be; into sci-fi erotica, involved in the free software movement, look like Richard Stallman, like the band Boiled in Lead, practice martial arts and have a disdain for corporate environments. The point being, individual companies have distinct characteristics determined by the core team that describes their make up. Furthermore, you can observe that over time, successive generations of companies inherit traits from the recombination of founders and employee groups. As a result, probabilities for successful hires as well as the potential success of the company can be determined based upon the make up of the organization. I use this process daily to help me determine candidates for the searches I conduct. Combine this with knowledge of stock option prices, lock up periods and merger and acquisition phases, and one can generally predict who may be susceptible to recruitment and from where the next start up might emerge.

The process of recruiting can be explained using terms from genetics as well. First of all, just as DNA has an intermediary (RNA) to the outside world, a company has a recruiter. The function of RNA is to protect the DNA from the outside, transfer messages and deliver those messages to the appropriate targets. In microbiology, cells recruit other cells using promoters, attractors and receptors. Combining all these terms and concepts, we can fairly accurately describe the variables required for a successful recruitment effort.

At the most basic level, recruiting is a marketing function. The first branding exercise for a start up is putting together the profile that will be used to create a buzz in the marketplace and entice potential employees to investigate the opportunity. The attractors in this case will consist of the investor information, background on the founders and a basic description of the target market. Once the message has been crafted, a campaign can be mounted to target the audience most receptive to the pull of the core team. The obvious next step is to contact the personal networks of the founders and then to mine their networks. Depending on how stealthy a company needs to be, the promotion efforts can be regulated as a company progresses through the stages of growth. In my experience, the best companies hire the bulk of their team through internal referrals. Ideally, once a company has an employee from a competitor or recruiting target, a steady stream of candidates will be available from that company. Some interesting points I should make are that a company that is comprised of a core team from only one company, will have a harder time recruiting than one where the founders come from two or three different companies. Having a larger pool to fish from will prevent them from hitting the wall as their personal networks exhaust themselves. Also, companies that hire everyone that has the same background tend towards a sort of “inbred” situation that amplifies the negative traits of the group and becomes less attractive to the candidate pool.

Being involved in this revolution of technological advancement is exciting for all of us. Understanding that it is driven by people, not capital is the first step to winning the war to build and grow companies. By determining the “genotype” of your company based upon common experience and cultural affinity you can define your archetype candidate and put together a message that will be attractive to them. With a little research utilizing the knowledge that companies form and grow in an evolutionary manner, you will be able to determine the target companies that will produce the highest probability for a successful hire.