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TitanFile: Here’s what we learned from 48 Hours in the Valley

TitanFile co-founder Tony Abou-Assaleh (centre) at
TitanFile co-founder Tony Abou-Assaleh (centre) at “48 Hours in the Valley” (Photo: Kris Krug)

From December 2-4, TitanFile got the opportunity to go to a program run by the wonderful C100 group called 48 Hours in the Valley.

Here, we got the chance to take part in multiple seminars chock-full of advice for start-ups that want to make it big. The first seminar I attended was led by Sukhinder Singh Cassidy: CEO of joyus.com and a very intelligent lady. She spoke on the topic of teams and how to make them successful. Unsurprisingly, it all starts from the hiring process. Her advice to us was:

As a CEO, only hire ‘A’s; don’t hire ‘B’s or ‘C’s.

Translation: your potential hire has to be a rockstar. The thought behind this being that ‘A’s will continue to attract and hire more ‘A’s while ‘B’s will only hire ‘B’s and lower. This is an obvious theory, but as most theories go, it becomes more complex in practice. Here are three tips to make it easier to find those shiny needles from a dull haystack:

1. Realize your company strengths and definitely realize your weaknesses; this will enable you to hire people that will fill the gaps and solidify your company.

2. Do not limit yourself by looking only at experience and education. Look for intellectual capacity and ability to think outside the box; remember – it is the person you want, not their function.

You might be surprised that when I was hired to TitanFile as a developer, I had no experience with Python which is the programming language that our back end is built on! I had to scramble to make it happen, but I made it work. Pick these kinds of people to be a part of your company!

3. Gauge your potential employee’s operating range. Ask your interviewee complex questions on the topic of your expertise; aim for questions with a higher difficulty level than you expect to be answered first and go down from there until you reach a level that you deem to be un-hireable. This will give you great understanding of their capacity to think outside of the box and hopefully, their capacity to put your company ahead of the competitors.

Analyse the value of your hire after 3 months – if they can tell you more about their craft than their managers, then you have done your job as a recruiter. Successful organizations do not micro manage, they allow individuals to own their work. Having this attitude will give your employees the chance to progress further than you ever thought possible.

If your hire is not working out, don’t be afraid to make changes; a company must always be recruiting new and better talent in order to progress into the future.

Dineen: "When you arrive in San Francisco be prepared for a hurricane – people are going to throw advice at you from every angle, at every meeting, mentorship session, and social event you attend." (Photo: Kris Krug)
TitanFile CTO Dineen: “When you arrive in San Francisco be prepared for a hurricane – people are going to throw advice at you from every angle, at every meeting, mentorship session, and social event you attend.” (Photo: Kris Krug)

Day 2
The name 48 Hours in the Valley is grossly deceiving; it makes you think that it is humanly possible to fit a full experience of this caliber into two measly days – which is completely unrealistic. Our team ended up staying an extra week in San Francisco after the event had finished to have meetings with all the amazing people we were introduced to through the C100.

In those initial 48 Hours you will sleep very little, talk a bit, but the most important thing you will do is listen. When you arrive in San Francisco be prepared for a hurricane – people are going to throw advice at you from every angle, at every meeting, mentorship session, and social event you attend. You will not be able to put into practice every aspect of guidance you are given; the trick is to just sit back and take in as much of it as you can.

One realization you will come to from the start is that the mentors you are going to be meeting with will NOT know your business better than you; they will know their business and what made them great so take the information with a grain of salt. They only have ten minutes to get a full understanding of your company and they do the best they can.

Another thing to note: important people never have any time! Meetings are as short as twenty minutes; from the second you enter the room the clock is ticking. We had a quick meeting with an energetic man named Rob Labatt who is the head of product and innovation for Digital at Western Union. In our session Rob used a technique called ‘pressure testing’ where he asks direct questions, one after another, that bring your business down to its knees. This is just as stressful as it sounds and is done to test you. Great companies have to rise to the challenge so be prepared!

The two days will pass in the blink of an eye. At the end of the program, if nothing else, you will come home with a binder full of contacts to follow up with. The half-life of these warm leads is incredibly short; be sure to work them for all the value they are worth immediately after your return.

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