I’ve been present to a Romanian event two days ago, in the panel on Online Entreprenurship in Romania. Along with me were people that are successful in the space (Alexis Bonte from eRepublik, Alexandru Lapusan from Zitec, Lucian Todea from Soft32). I was really honored by the invitation, since all these companies are companies that were started several years ago and they are examples that we looked up to (and still do).
One of the things that was talked in the panel started with the fact that the software companies relevant for Romania right now have hundreds of employees and if (or better when) are we gonna hire the same number of people.
The thing is that Eastern European countries (if not all) still see success in business as having lots of employees, big offices and that’s not true anymore, at least for most of the tech businesses that I know. Heck, I know at least 3 people that made more than $1 Million in the last 2-3 years all by themselves or with the help of 1-2 outsourced people.
Even more important, people that I know and talk to (especially investors) appreciate if you can grow a company by being lean, not getting into a hiring spree once you have a little bit of money, since that will make the company move a lot slower and you will lose the only competitive advantage you have: speed of execution.
MavenHut is a team of 12 people right now, and we really took our time with the hires. We are moving really, really fast and you can’t be part of the team if you can’t do that. I remember that once we interviewed someone from a big Romanian site and he couldn’t believe how fast we move(he really thought we were lying, he got into his head that we made fun of him and he left, basically thinking we were assholes).
And MavenHut is not the only case. Yes, we are small, but look at King or Supercell in gaming (King has an expected value of $5 Billion with just 400 or so employees, while Supercell just got valued at $3 Billion with a little bit over 100). And that’s not just in gaming, Instagram had 12 people when it was acquired for $1 Billion. Of course, different industries have different characteristics, but online product businesses should not have huge teams. At least in the initial stages, before having to hire hundreds for customer support. That is if you don’t outsource it.
I expect this perception will change in time. As someone in the panel said (I think Alexis Bonte), in the future you will not see one company with 1,000 employees, but 50 companies with 20 people employed. So your startup should hire slow. Really slow. :)
Photo taken by me, this is why I am not visible there :D