Hiring for Startups: Founder2Founder X Pareto

In Founder to Founder's most recent Startup Spotlight, Pareto CEO Phoebe Yao discusses the successes and struggles of her founder journey thus far.

In the most recent installment of Founder to Founder's Startup Spotlight, Phoebe spoke with Frederick Daso about what she’s working on at Pareto and her advice for emerging entrepreneurs.

She shared details of how being a founder has encouraged her personal growth.

"The entrepreneurial journey is in essence a personal journey. More than half the battle is about evolving to be what your company needs. In the span of a year, I went from an engineer building a side project, to recruiting Pareto’s founding team, to selling my vision to a group of investors. Each role required a completely different set of technical and interpersonal skills. It was uncomfortable confronting my own limitations, figuring out who I needed to be next, and how I would get there. I was scared of failure and it got very personal. But whenever I was uncertain, I turned to my friends and mentors for support. I became very good at asking for help, integrating feedback, and learning from my inevitable failures."

She opened up about self-doubt as a founder.

"I had this insecurity about being a solo founder. Everyone in Silicon Valley told me that I needed to find a co-founder. For the longest time, I believed them. In my rush to not fly solo, I hired people who lacked mission-alignment and when they didn’t work out, I’d end up back where I started. This was until I met Matt Pru, a startup advisor and angel investor, who told me: “You don’t need a co-founder. You can code, you can sell, you can recruit. You just need to hire people to help you.” Matt was the first person who believed in me and what I was building. His encouragement and perspective gave me the confidence to believe in myself. Matt went on to become Pareto's first advisor and earliest champion. When we raised our pre-seed, he wrote our first angel check. Find your Matt. It can mean the world."

And she gave some powerful advice to other founders.

"For aspiring, college-aged founders:

Business is still fundamentally a relationship game. Ask the right questions to the right people and you will go far. One helpful perspective to keep in mind is that industry professionals want to help students. When you reach out, they see you as someone whose very career decisions they might help shape. The potential positive ROI of them giving you 30 minutes of their time is very high. They want to be useful, so reach out. Cultivate your network and get good at asking for help. You'll need friends and mentors to help you understand the unknown unknowns of the entrepreneurial journey."

Quotes have been shortened for brevity. Check out the feature, with Phoebe's words in full, on Founder to Founder!

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