From seed to Series C: Who to hire in different phases of growth

Who to hire in different phases of growth - RocketX 2
 

For any B2B SaaS company, hiring new talent is a steep task – but when faced with the rapid changes that startups and scale-ups encounter, the challenge ramps up. Knowing who to target – and when to target them – is critical in scaling and in succeeding in your growth journey;  in fact, it is currently the biggest operational risk for startups due to competition in the market. 

Most B2B SaaS companies experience similar growth phases, so it’s important to carefully think about what type of people you need at what stage. The types of necessary talent and skill will differ from phase to phase, with people who are very strong in one stage being either incapable or unwilling to participate in another phase of company development.
 
Here, we’ll take a look at each growth phase that a successful B2B SaaS ventures goes through, examining what and who is needed in each – and how they can drive your company forward.

 

Seed stage - It’s up to the founders

The seed stage is all about finding a product market fit. You’re validating your value proposition to learn what resonates with your audience – and whether it can scale. You may pivot along the way, depending on what you discover about your product or service, eventually landing in a place that allows you to settle and grow. The aim is to keep costs low to iterate on your product, find the right positioning and validate repeatable and efficient distribution.

Typically, the seed stage for B2B SaaS sees companies hiring generalists who can wear many hats and focus on the basics, rather than specialists in any single area or department. People joining seed-stage startups often thrive on uncertainty and getting things done, and can be relied upon to be proactive executers. The founders and first employees act as a jack-of-all-trades. For example, sales is typically founder-led, with the business’s founder acting as the SDR, AE, and VP of Sales – possibly with support from first SDRs or AEs.

 

Series A - Bring in first key hires

Series A companies have identified a problem, and their products or services seem to resonate with target audience’s needs. Product development is still an area of focus, of course, but overall the economics make sense – meaning it’s time to focus on growth and experimenting with additional revenue streams or customer segments.

As there is less uncertainty and more budget is available, this is typically where founders begin to onboard the next wave of employees that raise the organizational bar. Hiring specialists with specific functions enable businesses to professionalize, and there is more focus on revenue generation and KPIs to hit to be eligible for a follow-on round.

“At this stage, the requirements of the business are also growing in complexity,” the Forbes article states. “You will need more salespeople and engineers, but you will also need people to take care of the legal and financial side of your business.”

Another marked shift in employees in the Series A stage is from those who are strong in execution to those who can lead or manage well – extremely hands-on heads of sales, tech, product, and the like, which enable businesses to professionalize and continue to grow – with the necessary experience in bringing a company from series A to series B.

 

Series B - Team-led execution

Series B-level companies are often on strong growth trajectories. Market competition is stiff and more readily apparent – and the same goes for hiring, with companies spending more and more on talent. Scaling is now the priority, but the focus for this will differ depending on the type of organization, with some making large strides toward overall, enterprise-level expansion, while others enter new markets, add new product lines – or stay compact to home in on a niche market, product, or service.

Regardless of direction, Series B companies are usually doubling down on building out and strengthening teams in terms of both size and seniority, with VP- and C-level roles being brought aboard as responsibilities and scale increases.

 

Series C - ‘We need to hire 8 FTEs, otherwise it cannot be done’

At the Series C level, we see companies investing in international growth and senior management teams. Company culture and dynamic often shift, from smaller, “clan-like” operations to fully professionalized organizations. New hires, too, are often sourced for their experience or expertise rather than the rooted, intrinsic motivation that early-stage companies seek.
 
Internal hierarchies also start to evolve from the top, down: C-level, department heads, VPs, then senior and junior departmental positions. Additionally, international expansion becomes a hot topic, with local “go to market” teams being developed, assembled, and sent to local markets from the centralized organization.

Series C, however, often brings with it a substantial challenge in the form of company culture. When companies are undergoing rapid growth, a common reason for employees leaving are changes to organizational size and dynamic. Things won’t be the same as they were a few years ago, meaning it’s essential that leaders work to preserve what made their company an attractive place to work in the beginning of its lifecycle. 

This also calls for continuous reevaluation of the types of people you need, as well as what roles will best help you build your business in the different stages of growth. With this in mind, it’s important to continuously develop your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and employer brand, integrating it throughout your entire talent journey. Have questions? Our talent management services can guide you through this process, enabling you to attract and retain talent in an increasingly competitive professional environment.

 

What next?

Now that you know who and when to hire, it’s important to obtain a solid understanding of fair compensation – as well as how much you need to invest in setting up the right team. With this in mind, RocketX has designed a salary benchmark for Amsterdam, Berlin, and Munich. Download them for free today to get started on your hiring growth journey.

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