Linkilaw CEO Alexandra Isenegger Interview
I recently caught up with Alexandra Isenegger, CEO & Founder of Linkilaw, a revolutionary legal platform designed specifically for startups and SME’s, to get her thoughts on the importance of hiring great people and the problems many startups face.
Alexandra started her legal career working in law firms and as in-house council for companies and saw too many startups suffer the injustice of spiralling legal fees, inadequate legal protections and no access to the legal professionals they deserve and so she created Linkilaw.
Since establishing Linkilaw in 2015, Alexandra has become one of the UK’s most watched thought-leaders in the Legal Tech space and has been featured in publications including TechCrunch, Huffington Post, Forbes and Tech City News. She was featured in Forbes’ 30 under 30 2018.
When starting and growing Linkilaw, how important was hiring the right people?
Hiring the right people is the most crucial part of running and growing a business. A business is made of people and the wrong people can make the business sink. We adopted the ‘hire slow, fire fast’ strategy to ensure we built the right team, maintained our culture and on-boarded people with the right skillsets at the right time. I attribute ALL our success to our team, without the team, there would be no Linkilaw.
In an early stage startup, how important is it for the founder(s) to focus on hiring great people. In terms of importance, how does this compare to product development or marketing?
Hiring the right people is important, and it’s also important for the founders to take this on at the early stage of the business. However, the moment when you should start to recruit is when you really can no longer go on without additional help. Do not bring in employees before it becomes absolutely essential. Too much of a startup’s success is determined by the number of employees, which in my opinion is wrong, because success = efficiency, not number of employees.
Generally speaking, what should startups prioritize when hiring early employees; experience, potential, academic background or personality?
I gage what is most important by thinking of what I couldn’t do without. First of all, that’s personality. It’s essential that a new employee fits in the company culture. At Linkilaw, this means being trustworthy and transparent, a fearless communicator, passionate, keen to learn, efficient, proactive, resilient and reliable. That is the core of what we are looking for. If the candidate possesses these qualities, it is likely he/she will have tremendous potential. Experience becomes important in certain roles, so of course it’s something we look for also. Finally, I pay very little attention to academic background, unless it is particularly poor of impressively good.
What’s the best way to attract talented candidates as an early stage startup.
Obviously, paying high wages will undoubtedly attract talent. But it will not retain it. That’s why I believe that company culture is at the core of talent attraction and retention. Offering equity is a great way to incentivise employees to stay in the long term, but without a good company culture, very little will actually stay. Millennials place happiness at the centre of their goals and a good work place atmosphere helps them achieve that.
Do you have any favourite interview questions? What are they?
I like to ask open-ended questions as these enable me to gage the personality of the candidate better. I always start with “tell me about yourself” to see what they identify the word ‘yourself’ to mean for them. I also like to ask “how would you deal with an angry customer”, as this reveals a lot about one’s personality.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give startups hiring their first few employees?
- Take your time to hire the right person, your efforts will pay off.
- Get rid of bad seeds quickly (and peacefully).
- Ensure compliance with employment law from day 1, and make sure you have your contracts drafted by lawyers. We at Linkilaw can help at a fraction of the usual costs!
In this interview series, I’m speaking with Founders & CEO’s of startups from a variety of backgrounds to get different perspectives on attracting and hiring world-class talent and building great teams. If you want to find out more about this, connect with me on LinkedIn
At Hired By Startups, we help startups, scale-ups and VC backed companies hire really talented people and build teams that are more engaged and productive. Our dedicated onsite hiring service enables startups to see the benefits of having their own internal recruiter, with the flexibility of using an agency.
We’ve helped some of the UK’s best known and fastest growing startups scale their teams whilst saving 50% on their cost and time per hire. If you’re a startup looking to scale rapidly, get in touch to find out how we could help! For more info, check out us out here.
About the author
Hi, I’m Tom – Founder & CEO at Hired By Startups. You can connect with me on LinkedIn here.