This post was updated in June 2019.
Kinsa is the creator of the first FDA-cleared smartphone connected thermometer and is a company driven by a mission to create a real-time map of human health. For founder Inder Singh, a global health advocate who has enabled more than 2 million people around the world to receive treatment for devastating diseases, the goal is to empower society by providing information to track and stop the spread of disease. As CEO of Kinsa, Inder is tasked with building a team that can achieve that ambitious goal.
Like many innovative companies, Kinsa is on the lookout for rare talent. They need people who specialize in healthcare, software and product design, not to mention regulation and manufacturing—a combination of skills that’s hard to come by. We talked with Inder to learn more about how he thinks about sourcing people who will help his business grow. Here are four insights he shared:
1. Know your criteria for a great hire
“At a startup, culture is everything,” Inder explains. “The quality of the people you have determines whether you’ll be successful or not, and when you’re a mission-driven company like Kinsa, you need everyone to be motivated by the right things.”
At Kinsa, every new hire needs to meet two criteria: “First, they need to be passionate about the problem we’re trying to solve, and second, they need to be passionate about creating things that add value to people’s lives.”
Every employer has different goals and finding the people who feel connected to that goal is key to long-term success. But the second criterion is just as crucial: it connects the mission of the company to the outside world. This two-pronged requirement enables Kinsa to find people who are passionate about what they’re currently working on while also being attuned to what they might work on next.
2. Develop a screening process that helps the best talent shine
When you’re recruiting for hard-to-find skills, a traditional interview structure won’t always bring out the qualities you need. As Inder explains, “In an interview, you can test how someone thinks, but you can’t necessarily test a particular set of skills. We usually give people mini projects as part of the screening process. By monitoring their work on these projects, we want to identify how each candidate deals with ambiguity, among other things. We’re working at the intersection of hardware, software, data and healthcare regulation. It’s a very broad field that also requires some specific skills and knowledge.”
This screening process could be very different for different employers, but at its core it means taking the time to pinpoint the qualities you need to add to your team and working out a process that reveals whether someone has that skill or not.
“There’s nothing better than working with a group of people rallied around a shared vision. It’s like dribbling down the court without needing to look for your teammates; you just pass the ball because you know they’ll be there.”
Inder Singh, Kinsa
3. Find people who want to grow with the company
After you’ve taken the time to establish criteria for a great hire and set up a screening process that brings in top talent, you want people to stay and grow at your company. “We’re small now, but we have massive objectives and we know that the team we’re building will be the foundation for what we achieve in the future,” says Inder.
Inder sees these people as more than entrepreneurial. “Really, I’m looking for scrappy people,” he says. Kinsa wants to hire people who aren’t afraid to try new things and who can support each other in uncertainty. Gathering together a team of people who can challenge one another is the ideal growth plan for Kinsa. As Inder puts it, “There’s nothing better than working with a group of people rallied around a shared vision. It’s like dribbling down the court without needing to look for your teammates; you just pass the ball because you know they’ll be there.”
4. Hire quickly while staying focused on quality
For every employer, there’s the balance between waiting for the right person and growing teams swiftly. As a startup, Kinsa feels that tension acutely. “Our challenge will always be to hire talent fast enough while making sure we’re focused on identifying the right talent for this team,” Inder says.
Laying the groundwork for hiring by carefully considering who you’re looking for and how to bring them onboard can help achieve that balance. As Inder summarizes it, “Tech talent is always hard to find, and we’re looking for a very specific kind of tech talent. I’ve found it’s worth the wait, though. We’re always hiring and we always keep the train moving, but it’s worth it to continually refine the methods you use to hire people and to find the person who fits what you’re trying to achieve.”