Recruiting Talent for Startups is Easier in Denser Tech Communities

A startup in the Atlanta Tech Village was recruiting hard for a software engineer against a more established company that offered a significantly higher salary. At the end of the recruiting process, with two offers in hand, the programmer chose the startup in ATV citing ATV as one of the more important drivers of the decision (along with the people at the startup and the startup’s vision).

After thinking about it briefly, it makes sense that recruiting talent for startups is easier in denser tech communities:

  • People want a strong community for pride, camaraderie, and relationship building
  • Startups have high highs and low lows, creating an even higher demand for a peer group to share experiences, learn from, and lean on
  • Most startups fail, so being in a dense community, especially an ultra dense building like ATV, provides greater opportunities to quickly find another job with another tech company in the event things don’t work out

Denser tech communities make it easier to recruit talent for startups. As much as the internet makes it easier to decentralize things, people want to be around other like-minded people.

What else? What are some other reasons it’s easier to recruit talent for startups in denser tech communities?

3 thoughts on “Recruiting Talent for Startups is Easier in Denser Tech Communities

  1. I agree, and the “learn from” points definitely resonates. As an engineer, big companies have diverse technologies and can afford deep experts in various fields. This is appealing to those of us who always want to be learning and growing. By having your startup in a dense tech community like ATV, a small 2 or 3 person team can still learn, grow and problem solve just by wandering (or scootering) down the hall or striking up a conversation at Free Lunch Friday.
    The other week over lunch I got talking with a team about one of their technical challenges around a distributed queue system. That night I went home and worked up the simple proof-of-concept we had chatted about, mostly to scratch the itch but also to pay it forward. It was a win-win. They got a jump on their problem and ran with it, and I got to play with a tool outside my current stack.

  2. David, I think the power of ATV in recruiting extends beyond engineers. We’re hiring for numerous positions (admin, journalists, etc.) and introducing candidates to ATV has become a true differentiator. First, it’s easier to find people that fit the culture by seeing their reaction to ATV. Secondly, for non-engineering hires, ATV is VERY different than their previous workspaces — I’ve heard words like ‘refreshing’, ‘exciting’, ‘high energy’ and ‘awesome’ to describe the space. Ultimately, I think ATV helps candidates understand that we’re serious about culture and building a successful business.

  3. Agree that community is so terribly important. One related thing we’ve seen is that smaller cities often have closer-knit startup communities. San Fran and NYC are so large and cutthroat for talent that there isn’t the same camaraderie that exists elsewhere, where there is more genuine interest in seeing your fellow startups succeed. That said, those smaller communities also often have a more compacted startup network, which ties to your point.

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