For marketplaces, speed provides a strong competitive advantage — it’s not about being first to market, but rather first to liquidity (see my recent Harvard Business Review article, Network Effects Aren’t Enough). Airbnb wasn’t first to market. VRBO was. Uber wasn’t first to market with UberX. Lyft and Sidecar were. In both of these cases, speed mattered — Uber and Airbnb executed at a much faster pace by buying users and hiring engineers. Many people confuse speed and growth, but the clear difference between the two is sustainability. If the CAC is less than the LTV of those customers, the growth is sustainable. Companies that buy speed are reaching their sustainable end state sooner while still focusing on key factors such as user experience, quality and customer retention. It’s about the pace. However, simply buying growth takes the company in an unsustainable direction and completely off course. Growth from this perspective is about vanity — or worse, incompetence.
Once I’ve made it past the careers page, I want to see them in person. It’s always important to have women in the interview process, but especially when the candidate is also a woman. This makes me feel more comfortable with asking certain questions, and offers an opportunity to ask things only another woman in tech could answer. Even if there aren’t currently women on the team I’d be joining (red flag) bring someone from another team in for a culture interview.
The first thing most people do before interviewing or even applying for a job is look at the company careers page. If it’s plastered with pictures of white guys in flannel with beards, that’s a red flag. If the exec team is all white men who look like they could be my father that’s another one. When you’re a small team and those are the cards you’re dealt, it’s harder to get around that. But you can always put a statement on this page explaining the fact you want to diversify your team and why. Another trick I’ve seen is having a clearly female silhouette saying “This could be you!”.
I send a different email to a wider net of potential employees and future investors (“Three great things that happened to COMPANY NAME in January!”). That contains the short line of what we do, three highlights (slightly polished and not as transparent as the template/example above), and how they can help or engage (upvoting, download, etc.).