Talent may be the scarcest resource for many startups in Europe. Some entrepreneurs creating innovative digital travel companies say they struggle with recruiting programmers, developers, sales chiefs, and user-experience engineers.
We asked some European entrepreneurs about hiring. Is it tough right now?
Over in Berlin, Gidsy, a site that offers tours and activities, often hosted by members of the Gidsy community, has also found hiring to be tough. Says Edial Dekker, founder of Gidsy:
Finding experienced people is probably the hardest. There are fewer companies in the Europe that have faced extreme growth, so it is very likely you have to find people from abroad.
The good thing about Europe, is that it is very attractive and easy to move to. Among startups, there's a lot of competition, and that's great actually.
All of these roles are difficult to fill. Berlin is like a magnet for talented people worldwide, and that's a great benefit of being based here. We're looking for people who're better than we are.
Gidsy is hiring for a few technical positions. For instance, this week it hired an engineer who is who is "well versed in Django," the open-source content management software. It is also still looking for someone who can do operations and sales.
Expect Gidsy to keep hiring, since it received $1.2 million in funding in January.
Berlin is also home to Waymate,
What kind of jobs are hardest to fill in Berlin now? Maxim Nohroudi, CEO of Waymate says:
Ruby on Rails developers are currently in high demand in Berlin. Rails is a relatively 'young' web app framework, but more and more talents are starting to learn it. So in the future we will have a calmer situation.
Building a travel app might look simple on the outside, but underneath it is very very (!) complex, especially finding the right talent with the right amount of experience is a challenge.
From our experience mobile developers (especially iOS) seem to be easier to find. It seems to be a popular discipline among developers, which is great for us, because mobile and travel go hand in hand.
[caption id="attachment_78016" align="aligncenter" width="550" caption="Startups struggle to fill the seats from the existing pool of developers. This rooftop pool in Berlin is owned by the startup Waymate, which is hiring."][--image id='img1'--][/caption]
Qype, is a user-recommendation service headquartered in Hamburg, but with offices in Spain, France and the UK. Qype is recruiting for sales, marketing and insight roles in the UK and Germany, and tech and support in Germany and expects to fill around 100 open positions across Europe by the end of the year. Says Richard Dennys, chief marketing officer for Qype:
"We’ve found that hiring the right people for certain roles has become more of a challenge in recent years, particularly in Germany where there is low unemployment and a strong economy. The problem isn’t as bad as in the US; the flexibility of the European Community has helped soften the hiring crisis here, giving us a much bigger pool of talent to draw from.
In the UK, it’s a slightly different story; we’ve had little trouble finding talented people to join our team in London. For sales and marketing roles in particular, the supply of talent far exceeds demand, which of course is a reflection of the current economic situation.”
Meanwhile, in Sweden...
Nicolas Grasset, the chief technology officer at Sweden's social travel startup Tripl (formerly Vacation Relation), says hiring is "tough."
First of all, startup are competing with agencies and more stable companies for talents with a lot less interest for tech startup than in Silicon Valley.
Secondly, young Swedes are generally not familiar with options and equity compensation which make it a lot harder to make our offers interesting compared to long-established companies, or larger startups (Spotify).
Sourcing is not too hard because the universities are regrouped and every talented person is on Twitter. In the past couple of years, we have also seen more meet up events and more ways of reaching out to specific groups.
Last obstacle we have seen is that talents are very mobile and won't hesitate to move to Berlin, London, or even San Francisco where offers are often hard to compete with.
This spring and on the heels of a $300,000 funding round, Tripl relocated to New York City.
The main reason for the move was investment, which Grasset says is even harder to get an seed stage in Europe than talent. That said, the company will probably hire more in NYC than Europe now, looking to hire one or two big-data engineers/scientists, as soon as possible followed most likely by a senior level account manager.
Despite obstacles, Tripl is winning praise for its adaptability. In mid-July, it relaunched as a simpler product focused on one function that creates travel summaries from all geo-data shared on Facebook, Foursquare and Instagram", helping users keep track of your friends' journeys online.
In the UK, DiscountVouchers.co.uk has found hiring difficult, too. It is currently looking to fill a mid-level CRM database marketing role. Gerard Doyle, CEO, says this:
With the rapid expansion of big data projects in the tech arena, I expect to see a gradual shift of business and data analyst roles away from London's financial centre towards the tech sector. If problems in the financial markets continue, some of the city’s talent will inevitably start looking for alternative ways to use their skills, and technology companies are looking for the expertise.
“Unfortunately at the moment very few tech companies can afford to match city salaries, but hopefully the draw of more tangible and human-facing outputs will help attract the talent. High-end business analyst roles will, for the foreseeable future at least, remain with the consulting agencies and marketing companies. Only companies in or near the FTSE 100 are able to leverage value from these high salaries.
“At DiscountVouchers.co.uk we've made the decision to train up most of our staff internally. We look for talented and ambitious people and provide the support for them to gain the required skills on the job. Unfortunately that then makes the same staff members very attractive to other dot com companies!”
A decade ago the American stereotype was that Europe was a sorry place for entrepreneurs and engineers who couldn't obtain a visa to the promised land of startups in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Today's competitive hiring market in Europe shows that stereotype is certainly not true, if it ever was.