Only two weeks left before the end of the program, and the time has come to focus on HR. In addition, week 8 presented further opportunities to participate in SV networking events.
The first event of the week was a great networking soiree at Kwarter. The ubi i/o team in collaboration with while42 (French Tech Engineers Alumni Network) had the pleasure to welcome EPITECH’s eMBA graduates visiting San Francisco for the week for an event to meet the French tech community of San Francisco.
Our participants informally presented their solutions, and shared their 8 weeks of Silicon Valley experience with the guests.
The team had the pleasure to welcome three specialists in workforce management :
- Alex Churchill, CEO @Von Church
- Jose de Dios, CEO @Aplaz
- Ingrid Rechtin, Partner @Convington & Burling LLP
The workshop started with an introduction by Tarek Aghenda, the UBIFRANCE Trade Advisor responsible for organizing this workshop. Tarek asked our panelists to share their expertise regarding recruitement. Tarek focused the panel specifically on the struggles entrepreneurs have to face when recruiting particularly because they seldom have time to both interview and run their business, but they still need to attract the best candidates.
“Make sure you’ve got a fantastic story to attract candidates“
All of the panelists stressed the importance of creating a perfect job description before trying to find someone who is the right fit. They shared some websites and practices that have proven to be very useful: referrals, Craiglists, Linkedin and Indeed job posts, but above all networking events. Once you have candidates start the interview process, then that is when the job is just starting since you now have to figure out which candidate will be the best fit:
“Do they have anything to show you that prooves that they are capable of doing the job you want them to do?”
And be careful: “If you ask specific questions related to age, religion, marital status, etc… candidates can actually take you to court”
When it’s time to select the right candidates:
“You have to make a decision within three days”
The second part of the workshop focused on equity and compensation packages. The panelists started out by discussing the best pactices for benchmarking the right salary range and compensation package for early stage employees, and then continued on with how to distribute equity packages for later stage ones. They highlighted the correlation between a startup’s financial state and HR choices, and more specifically the importance of giving out the appropriate compensation package. In tying in with the first part of the workshop, the panelists added that on the West Coast:
“They come for your vision and a lifestyle, not for money”
The next part of the workshop focused on managing benefits and payroll. The panelists advised our participants to outsource payroll management since it is a tricky subject that does not present enough work for an early stage startup to justify keeping a full-time employee busy, and of course, because there are major differences between France and the U.S. They emphasised that the most fundamental benefits in startups are medical coverage, and then eventually as company revenue increases, dental and vision coverage.
They then explained the fees and taxes employers have to cover and administer:
“Payroll tax deductions include the following:
- Federal income tax withholding (based on withholding tables in Publication 15)
- Social Security tax withholding (6.2% up to the annual maximum)
- Medicare tax withholding (0.9%) for employees earning over $200,000 (this is a new tax withholding requirement starting in the year 2013)
- State income tax withholding
- Various local tax withholdings (such as city, county, or school district taxes, state disability or unemployment insurance).
- and workers compensation (insurance is a tax on your revenue)“
Last but not least, the panel tackled the difficult question of firing in USA. The biggest difference is that the US process of letting an employee go is faster than the French one. Of course, just like in France, there should always be a good reason for it as it is always costly and ends up being a lose-lose situation. Our panelists avocated for a monthly employee review. For example, if you hire a sales person, the first month review should mainly focus on building a pipeline. Once you start doing reviews on the sales activity, you should quickly be able to detect if something is wrong. The employment review should always be accompanied by a written record so the employer can prove a track record and diligence.
We thank all the panelists for their valuable advice, and we hope to see them again, and maybe you too, at our ubi i/o End of Program Party on July 10th. Registration on EventBrite: