As businesses at HQ Raleigh see success, they invariably grow. This growth often requires expanding the team through recruiting and retaining the best talent they can find in their respective industry. In this spotlight, we’re going to look at one specific company at HQ that has been doing a masterful job of this during their recent rapid growth.

Kaleido: A Consensys blockchain startup partnered with Amazon Web Services

You understood all that, right? Just in case you didn’t, let’s quickly break that down.

Consensys uses the “VC studio” funding model, which means leading startups like Kaleido can access not only funding from this venture capital group but also office resources like recruiting, marketing, legal, finance, HR and a whole lot more through their “hub and spoke” model.

Kaleido supports blockchain development among enterprises, a method of sharing and maintaining data accurately, in a way that cannot be copied or altered, to help businesses in their operations. Many have heard of blockchain in passing with reference to cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin), but there are many other uses for the technology that have the potential to change the way we all live, interact and transact moving forward.  

“Blockchain is pretty complicated, but Kaleido’s mission is to simplify and accelerate the process of creating and operating permissioned blockchains, helping organizations reinvent their business processes and operations across industries.”  Melissa Crosby, who leads talent acquisition for Kaleido, told us.

Recruiting for a growing blockchain company

Because this technology is still fairly new and evolves rapidly, finding qualified people can be a challenge. Melissa has found that using a mix of strategies has helped her locate the right candidates.

“We do, of course, post on job boards, but I think it’s really important to be involved in the community to meet people organically. What’s great about our company is that there are many software engineers very interested in blockchain, and they’re looking for opportunities to jump in, pick up new skills and contribute to the movement in a meaningful way.”

While Consensys generally does share recruiting staff among the “spokes” of their company’s central “hub”, Melissa said because the Triangle has its own “special ecosystem,” the Consensys team thought it would be best for Kaleido to have their own talent acquisition to provide the support needed for their growing team.

“What’s great about our area is people are moving here whether or not I’m giving them a job. They are coming to North Carolina because the potential for career growth is here,” Melissa said.  

Unique challenges when staffing startups

When you’re starting out, Melissa said new companies really need to focus on getting the senior level talent in place first. For Kaleido, this has meant recruiting experienced blockchain engineers. These new team members need a few characteristics in addition to their skill to be successful at a startup though, first among them — flexibility.

“Being at a startup just takes a different kind of personality. If you’re at a larger company, you’ve got everyone doing very specific things, but at a startup you don’t have that. You have to be okay with wearing multiple hats.”

The same applies to the engineers. Regardless if someone identifies as a frontend, backend or full stack developer, they need to be willing and able to jump on the next task.

“This is also a good time for them to show their leadership skills,” she said. “Because they will have to step up and take ownership over tasks that are not in their comfort zone initially, thus growing in ways beyond their development abilities.”

As the company grows, these early members will hopefully be able to focus more on their specialty. And Kaleido is growing. They are trying to end this year with about 100 people, after starting with about 10 employees in January of 2018.

Retention

Getting great people is only half the battle. You also have to keep them. Melissa believes leadership and culture are the key to keeping talent from moving on.

Even as the Kaleido team grows, they want to keep doing things like team lunches, activities outside of work and they even have a social committee now.

There is flexibility in the daily schedules, but mostly, they maintain the strength of the team by having everyone on site. It’s a fast-paced environment where a lot of decisions are made every day, so physical presence makes a difference. And having team members see that their views on these decisions are being heard also helps with retention.

“For us, it’s an agile environment, we keep it flexible and collaborative. Everyone on our team feels like they can speak to the leadership and have their ideas heard. It’s nice to be in an environment where you have a voice.”

Advice for candidates

Melissa said companies have worked really hard to create good cultures, and it’s important for candidates to make clear they want to contribute to this, not just benefit from it.

“I love to know you’re excited about the culture, and while that’s flattering to hear, that’s only half of the picture of working at a great company. Tell us more about why you’re qualified for the the role. If I don’t feel your passion for what we’re doing, it’s probably not going to work. I want to hear your excitement about our product, the shift Kaleido is bringing to the industry and how you feel you can contribute to our shared agenda.”

Melissa believes sometimes this gets lost when she talks to people about positions. In any company, work-life balance is going to be important, but there are going to be moments of sacrifice. Every company has crunch time, no matter what the size or age.

Top talent is in high demand by companies like Kaleido, but it’s important to remember that the jobs they provide are too.