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Founders Who Hire Globally Will Win
How Athyna is building a talent network
Each month I send a few curated deals to over 1,000 VCs and angel investors in my network. Submit your round — this month’s email goes out next week!
Silicon Valley is no longer a geographic area — it’s a mindset and set of principles that help ambitious people build world-changing startups.
But regardless of whether you’re venture-backed of bootstrapped, the COVID pandemic changed how you should think about building your team.
Many of this decade’s successful startups will be built by global teams. And it turns out there’s a lot of talent out there in one unexpected region in particular.
We caught up this week to talk about:
The one huge advantage global teams have
What’s changed in hiring since the pandemic
What roles founders should (and shouldn’t) hire remotely
Why founders have a fiduciary duty to consider global hiring
And why LATAM is an overlooked market by most founders
This is January’s ✨ free deep dive ✨ — become a member to get a new one each week and the full library of 75+.
Founders Who Hire Globally to Win
Silicon Valley has gone through three phases, and each phase has had a different center of gravity:
~1970s - late 2010s → Palo Alto
Late 2010s - 2020 → San Francisco
2020 - Now → The Internet
Post-COVID, there was a massive exodus of talented founders and investors from SF.
SF isn’t going anywhere (yes, a younger generation has moved in and yes, some people have moved back), but it’s now possible to build a venture-backable, or massively cashflowing business built with Silicon Valley’s core principles in mind from anywhere, even your high school’s bathroom.
Working together in-person will let you move faster, but the social stigma around remote work is gone and most people are comfortable with video calls (even investors).
Why Should Founders Care?
If you can get high quality, comparable work done for less than half the cost why wouldn’t you?
As founders face down a challenging fundraising environment (and inflation), it’s the right time to look for ways to get high quality work done without paying SF salaries.
Bill takes it one step further:
And he’s living that ethos with Athyna — they’re venture-backed with $6.4 million in ARR while profitable, and have never hired an employee in the US.
Even if you’re not venture-backed, maybe you’re using Sahil Lavingia’s Flexile to offer equity to your team members for each hour they work.
At the very least you’ll be competing against other founders who will hire globally, and they’ll be the ones with stronger cashflow to invest in growth or product development.
It’s an advantage that will play out over the next decade. But while remote hiring isn’t a new idea, it does need a bit of a rebrand…
The Rise of LATAM
When you think about global, remote hiring you probably think about Southeast Asia or maybe eastern Europe. Traditionally those have been major hubs for remote work for US-based startups (and startups elsewhere too).
My lead engineer for Megaphone is based in Brazil so I may be biased (I would be focused to pay 2-3x as much for a US-based dev of the same seniority) but as I researched this post I was still surprised with what I saw coming from LATAM.
Aside from the considerably superior timezone overlap with the US, it has a strong contingent of locally grown unicorns like Mercado Libre (an $80 billion company), Rappi, and Nubank as well as the sizable presence of US-based FAANG companies.
Over the last few years this has created not just talented individuals available for hire at a fair cost but also an emergent, robust ecosystem with depth.
What Roles Can I Hire Remotely?
Similarly when people think of “offshore hiring” they think of engineers and virtual assistants.
First, it’s time to rebrand the process of remote hiring away from “offshore hiring” and “VAs” entirely and, instead, to “global teams” and “assistants” or even “junior ops.”
But more importantly, Athyna’s changing that narrative due to LATAM’s deep talent ecosystem.
It’s now possible to also bring on high quality remote team members across:
Role → Marketing, sales, product, design, growth, and more
Seniority → Bill mentioned that Athyna regularly places director and executive level talent at startups, along with more mid and junior level employees
This is the value of an ecosystem — having experience working with other top talent in LATAM’s successful unicorns helps team members level up faster. Steel sharpens steel, so to speak.
But What Roles Shouldn’t be Hired Remotely?
I’ve shared a lot about why I believe the next great startups will be built by global teams.
But you shouldn’t hire your whole team this way forever.
If you’re selling B2B, once you get to the stage where you’re doing enterprise sales you’ll want sales and customer success roles who can actually meet with customers in person. Often a high-touch approach is a difference maker in high-ticket deals that are primarily closed through a long and drawn out sales cycle with a focus on relationship building.
That likely isn’t going to change.
But that’s the point — B2B startups are only a subset of all startups, and the vast majority of B2B startups shouldn’t be selling into enterprise level clients until they’re years down the line.
Marc Andreessen calls this his Moby Dick Theory — the unpredictability and sales cycle risk is simply too high for a startup to count on.
So for now I’m content to let Bill and Athyna help me find quality talent to join my team.
Teams in 2030
This decade we’ll see US-based teams get outcompeted by global teams. Both will deliver high-quality work but global teams have an inherent advantage — lower costs = more efficient businesses and more cash on hand for growth.
Those teams might look something like Gumroad, with a focus on output rather than co-location, with standard rates of pay regardless of your home base.
The only un-equal factor will be timezone, and LATAM is well positioned to be an attractive option for US-based startups for that reason.
I’d strongly consider getting a still-early jump on it all by getting in touch with Bill and the Athyna team.
PS: Bill will also be joining me for a members-only AMA and fireside chat next month.
💡 How I Can Help
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📅 Upcoming Events
Each month I host fireside chats, workshops, and meetups in cities around the world. You can find all past and upcoming events here.
Securing Your IP [Members Only]
If you're changing the world, chances are people will try to copy what you're doing. At the same time, founders have minimal money and time to invest in IP protection.
How can you protect your startup while still moving fast?
We'll be hosting him for a members-only fireside chat + open AMA on January 11th at 1pm EST.
Practical Design for Founders [Members Only]
When should you bring a designer onto your team or a specific project, and what types of designers are there? When should you hire vs work with an agency? How do you avoid over-designing in the early stages?
He’s joining us for a members-only fireside chat + AMA on January 18th at 1pm EST.