When should you make the first official hire for your company?
Should that employee come after you’ve established a name? Landed some funding? Or maybe when you solidify your core values?
Possibly. But none of these things had happened yet for Procurated founder and CEO David Yarkin before he decided to add team members to his startup.
Launched last year, the tech company manages a digital platform that allows public sector organizations to incorporate peer reviews into their supplier selection process. The platform aims to help state and local government, educational and nonprofit purchasers connect with the most qualified suppliers for their needs. Purchasers are able to search through different reviews and ratings for performance information in order to find their suppliers.
Yarkin previously served as the chief procurement officer for the State of Pennsylvania, where he recognized a lack of tool for reviewing suppliers in the procurement sector. Procurated spun out of his other venture where he is president, Government Sourcing Solutions (GSS), a public procurement consulting firm. Since GSS was already based out of WeWork Dupont Circle, Procurated also holds office space there that can fit up to 20 team members.
And it’s true: When Yarkin began the search for his first employee, he hadn’t established a company name, core values or raised any funding yet, he told Technical.ly. But he did have a clear vision and needed a technical lead.
“I asked a bunch of CEOs in town, ‘Who would your first hire be?'” he said. “The consensus was, that for a non-technical founder, the right first hire would be a product leader.”
"The consensus was, that for a non-technical founder, the right first hire would be a product leader."
Prior to hiring, Yarkin said, it was more important for him to be certain that his product had the potential to be successful. He decided to work with a local recruiting firm to come up with a job description and requirements for this product lead. The firm helped identify candidates, which led them to on-demand manufacturing marketplace Xometry’s director of product management at the time, Rebecca Moran.
Moran told Technical.ly that when she connected with Yarkin, she wasn’t even looking for a new job, but when the recruiter reached out, she said she was “intrigued at first.”
She described her hiring process as a handful of “informal, get-to-know-you conversations at first.” The more Moran heard about David’s vision, the more invested she became.
“The more I talked to this recruiter about the role and David about it, there were just so many interesting parallels in terms of the marketplace dynamic,” Moran said. “In a lot of ways too, I saw some of the same things in terms of how Xometry was interrupting an industry that had been doing things the same way for a very long time, and had a ton to benefit from leveraging newer technologies.”
She said that since she had experience working at a startup before, she had an idea of what she needed going into this opportunity. One of those factors was good leadership and colleagues to work with — people who actually want to collaborate together.
"I remember talking to friends and family at the time like, Yeah, I'm joining a startup that doesn't even have a name yet."
“One thing I’ll say that we did in the interview process that was a huge positive for me was, David kind of brought a list of what he was calling ‘fault line issues,’ so these big, strategic questions for the business,” Moran described. “He brought that to an interview and really engaged with me as a thought partner in those conversations, and kind of working through, ‘How would you think about this problem?’ To me, that was an incredibly reassuring time.”
She ultimately accepted the position as Procurated’s senior director of product management. In this role, Moran is managing the launch and ongoing evolution of Procurated’s flagship platform and other tools. She currently works closely with a product designer and software engineer and contracts engineers and developers from a company that’s also based out of WeWork Dupont Circle.
Moran said that despite being hired in Procurated’s conceptualization stage, she felt little hesitation.
“I remember talking to friends and family at the time like, ‘Yeah, I’m joining a startup that doesn’t even have a name yet,'” she recalled. “It feels a little crazy but after I thought it through, it wasn’t crazy at all.”
Fast forward to now: Procurated has seven full-time employees, including recent hire Jacqueline Chenault, a software engineer working under Moran.
Yarkin also shared that the company teamed up with a different recruiting firm when it was looking for a director of marketing, which led to another former Xometry employee Alex Stonehouse, who now leads Procurated’s marketing efforts.
— David Yarkin (@YarkinDavid) October 31, 2019
With the company’s first few hires, Yarkin said they all collaborated to come up with a company name and core values together. Once all of that was established, the company launched, and announced the raise of $2.5 million in seed funding last summer.
A hot topic when hiring employees is the benefits package. Yarkin declined to share any information about decisions on employee equity at this point, but said that to get the initial ball rolling, he extended the same benefits his company GSS offers to his Procurated employees, which includes health care, dental, and vision coverage.
Procurated also has a portfolio of its own unique benefits.
“I believe in not having [a set amount of] sick days,” Yarkin shared. “The sick policy is that if you’re sick, you don’t come to work until you feel better.”
The company also doesn’t have a set amount of vacation days; instead, Yarkin “strongly encourages the team to take vacations and they do,” without having to look at how it’s allotted on an official vacation policy.
“I really believe that vacations make actually make you more productive employees,” Yarkin said. “If you don’t take vacation, you’ll probably hear about it from me, because you need to.”
Though Yarkin supports remote work, he likes having all of his team in one place.
“Working together in the same office, I think there’s a spirit and a sense of collaboration and team that’s hard to replicate when you’re not together,” Yarkin shared. “I believe in flexible work, but there’s something about being together.”
After presenting a growth strategy to his board recently, Yarkin said Procurated has a large growth plan for the year, which includes adding at least 11 employees across its engineering, marketing and data management teams. Check out the company’s open positions.