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GUEST BLOG: Working for a startup - would you make the cut?

  Last week, in our first Fresh Friday blog post, we looked at Britain emerging as the 'Land of the Startup'. So what better as a follow up than hearing from someone right in the midst of this movement, to find out what's really important when hiring the best talent for a startup. Alex Margolis, Co-Founder and Head of Design at carwow shares with us what it takes to make the grade...

First thing’s first: carwow - who are we?

carwow is an online marketplace for brand new cars, although we originally launched as a car research site - helping people choose which new car to buy. However, spotting a gap in the market, we created a platform through which you can compare great deals from the best main dealers without the usual hassle, haggling and hidden costs.

In less than 12 months we've scaled from nothing to having sold in excess of £45m worth of new cars. We've raised investment from some of London’s best investors; VCs who were early backers of LoveFilm, Betfair, Zoopla, Shazam and many more industry leading online businesses. At the moment, all of the hard work that we put in to raise this funding is being used to finance another difficult task, growing our team.

An expanding business means an expanding team...

Hiring for a startup is a really tricky process as it’s so important to have the right fit for not only the role, but for the stage your business is at, as well as for your team and culture. It can be a catch-22, as you have to be really picky, but you also can’t afford to waste time without that key hire that you desperately need!

At carwow we think that it’s very important that our team are hugely passionate about our product and aren’t afraid to get hands-on and stuck in to various bits of the business. We want everyone to be  contributing to strategic discussions and helping to grow the company in any way that they can.

Generalists...

We look for talented individuals with colourful, varied backgrounds and favour those with a broad range of experience, in addition to experience in the role that we require them for.

These 'generalists' are more appealing to us, particularly at the stage we’re in, since as a small team we can get more out of the individual in different areas of the business. Startups often pivot and change direction, so they need to be flexible enough to change with the business.

Getting things done

We often find that someone with a great CV can potentially be much less valuable than someone who’s willing to take action without having to be micro-managed (taking up other team members’ valuable time) and simply gets things done quickly, and to a consistently high standard. There’s no room for being a perfectionist and they need to be able to work in an unstructured environment.

We look for people who stand out when they first apply

We have just hired a candidate who applied for every single role we had available - this isn't something I'd necessarily recommend(!), however it definitely got our attention. Naturally we enquired as to why they'd done so, to which they replied with a fantastic, passionate response about how much they believed in our business and wanted to be a part of it. We even ended up carving out a unique role for them which we weren't hiring for originally because they were able to demonstrate how they could uniquely add value to our company. We’ve had in excess of 40 applications for certain roles – meaning competition is rife. So do try and make your mark! It can work wonders.

The road ahead...

Our aim for the next year is to grow our market share, which means expanding our team to around 20 people. There are plenty of huge opportunities that we're planning on tapping into for growth, including international markets, the fleet market and the used car market. We're anticipating exciting times ahead as we increase our dealer networks, improve our product and form the carwow team that can make this happen!

If you fancy finding out more about opportunities working in a startup environment, or a company that values entrepreneurialism, have a chat with the FreshMinds team on 0207 692 4300 or drop us an email.