Hiring begins with thinking through what success looks like – Ryan Savage, Inventure VC

May 18, 2022

Ryan Savage, the Head of Talent at Inventure VC is advising Inventure’s 70 portfolio companies on HR and Recruiting matters. He has headed talent at some of the fastest-growing startups in Nordics (Wolt and Yousician), delivering results in employee relations, recruitment, capability development, compensation, diversity and inclusion, while working with leadership teams as a Business Partner and Consultant. 

As the Estonian startup scene is getting more competitive and the recruiting more agressive, we interviewed Ryan for tips and insights our local startups might find useful in scaling to new heights.

  1. What do you do on a daily basis, and please share one of your recent professional wins?

Inventure has over 70 portfolio companies, so on an average week I am working with 2-3 startups. It can range from working with a founder on how to structure their recruitment process to helping them create their compensation and equity bands. I mostly spar with our founders and share best practices with them on how to scale their talent.  

Most recently, I worked with a portfolio company who was expanding to the US, I helped with getting their hiring set up in the US, introducing them to great recruiters and payroll and benefit vendors.  

  1. You are advising the startups in Inventure’s portfolio on HR and Recruiting matters. What are the most common issues those startups turn to you with? What do you commonly suggest as the solution?

    Since Inventure focuses on early-stage companies the most common issue is recruiting. So I work with them on creating a structured process, teach them sourcing skills so they can search for passive candidates, help them create their job descriptions and create structured interview questions so they can find the right candidates. I really encourage our founders when hiring to think through what success looks like in the role in the first 3 months, 6 months and 1 year.  

  2. Let’s talk about trends. Some years ago, hiring seemed to be all about the cool startup office and the perks – bean bags at the lounge, free smoothies, company swag. What does it take for a startup/company to successfully recruit nowadays? What attracts the talent to a job interview, and makes them say yes, in the end?

    I think it’s really about creating a solid Employee Value Proposition these days. This isn’t just about compensation and the cool perks you can offer but really about the company mission and values. What sets apart your startup from the others. Can employees become passionate about what they are doing on a daily basis. 

  3. In your opinion, how is the recruitment culture in Estonia/region doing?

    In general the Nordic and Baltics are experiencing a candidate market. There are a lot of openings and not enough talent. So candidates are at an advantage as they have a lot of options and can really focus on working with a company that they are passionate about. The pandemic has also opened up the talent markets globally, so candidates are now able to work for Google, Apple or Facebook from the comfort of their home in Estonia or Finland. This of course makes it more challenging for the early stage startup trying to hire their first 10 employees. It’s why it’s so important to really think through your employee value proposition. 

     
  4. Finally, would you please share a not-so-common pro tip with the readers who are scouting for a new job? What would make you instantly put a CV in the “yes” pile or win you over at a job interview?

    Personalize your CV to fit the job you are applying for. It’s seems like a common tip, but so many candidates just send a generic CV but don’t really highlight their experience that the job they are applying calls for. Also, don’t be afraid to be creative, especially if you are being asked to record a video interview.  

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Inventure VC’s team will be present at Latitude59 – look them up with Brella and call for a meeting if funds and support is what your startup seeks.

In addition, Inventure VC and Specialist VC are powering the “
Founder Stories” segment of our program, live at 13:30 on Friday at Founder Stage. Join in to witness 8 fast-rising startup founders from the region share their story.

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