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Entrepreneurship advice: Over-invest in hiring top talent


  • One of the best pieces of entrepreneurship advice has to do with hiring top talent.
  • Instead of looking for people who can do the job today, look for people who will still be successful two or three years from now.
  • That’s according to Cesar Carvalho, the cofounder and CEO of corporate fitness program Gympass.
  • When he first started Gympass, he hired people with the skills for a small startup, rather than for the large company it became.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

When he launched Gympass in summer 2012, Cesar Carvalho never imagined that the company would one day scale to include 49,500 fitness facilities across the globe.

That was a problem.

Gympass is a corporate fitness program similar to ClassPass. Once a company signs up, its employees have access to a range of gyms in different locations, at a discounted rate. Current global clients include Uber, PayPal, and Deloitte.

When Carvalho, the company’s cofounder and CEO, started building Gympass, he was a student at Harvard Business School; he dropped out soon after to work full-time on his business.

Carvalho told Business Insider that his inability to envision a bigger future for the company — which currently employs about 800 people worldwide — negatively influenced his hiring strategy. Specifically, he made the mistake of looking for people who could do the job that day, as opposed to people who would still excel in their role years into the future.

“The hiring decisions that we made in the beginning were not optimal,” Carvalho said. “We had to continuously bring more senior people to the company. And what I learned from it is that being able to plan for the next two to three years helps a lot on that.”

Today, he seeks candidates “who are going to be great [working on] not what has to be done today, but two to three years from now.”

You probably won’t regret over-investing in hiring top talent

Carvalho’s observations about hiring mirror those of Patty McCord, the former chief talent officer at Netflix. McCord previously told Business Insider that managers should always be considering whether the team they have now will still be able to push the company forward in six months. If not, the manager may need to replace some people on their team.

Read more: A manager’s No. 1 job is to create ‘resume-worthy’ experiences for employees, says Netflix’s original chief talent officer — and using the ‘6-month rule’ is key

To be sure, a stellar candidate may not necessarily want to join your fledgling startup.

“It’s actually super challenging to make the decision to hire someone for what the company needs three years from now,” Carvalho said. “At the point in time that you’re making the decision, you might not have at the bank the cash that you need to support that person.”

That means “taking two leaps of faith on the future of the company,” Carvalho said. Not only are you assuming that this person will still be a good fit in three years — you’re also assuming that the business will still be successful in three years.

Columbia Business School assistant professor Jorge Guzman told Business Insider that a proactive mindset at the start of a company’s journey, as evidenced by actions from the founders that anticipate future growth, actually ties to measurable growth in terms of an IPO or acquisition.

Carvalho wishes he’d invested more in the people running his company from the outset: “Had we done it, we would have been at a much better stage today than we currently are.”


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