Building a ‘Founder-first’ Ecosystem

After having more than 130+ applications on our ‘Ex Founders Initiative’ forum, I was vividly reminded of Jay Conrad Levinson’s revolutionary book ‘Guerrilla Marketing’; Where  guerrilla actually means ‘improvising’ your product from the tools you already possess. It meant to take that one special thing you can offer to customers and present it in a way that it will be etched in their minds. When I looked within Blume, I realized that it’s our  impressive platform of more than 80+ founders and their entrepreneurial journeys that distinguishes us in the startup ecosystem. And so the next question in my mind was why not find people who have been entrepreneurs and can guide Blume portfolio founders onto their path of success?

The ‘Ex Founder Initiative’ has been created to bring out a change in the traditional hiring approach of the Indian startup ecosystem. It helps founders hire for their core team roles not just based on  business function experience but because of the ‘entrepreneurial skill’ that founders bring into play and the hunger to solve a problem they are passionate about. After three years of finding abodes for various kinds of professionals within the Blume Ecosystem, it is  apparent is that founders want to hire people who have this burning desire to think of the company as their own.. 

Having seen 400+ negotiations on designations, salaries, variables and so on, what’s also interesting is that these  Ex Founders who relate to ESOPs more than any of these short term pay related attributes. And so began our keen involvement to bring together Ex-Founders, to join the real world problems that Blume’s Portfolio companies are trying to solve.

As we delved further on this, we have understood that  the business function ‘skill’ that we look for in candidates can be developed by experience, but an entrepreneurial journey is an experience of grit and passion that is hard to find in everyone.. 

After hearing more about  these entrepreneurial journeys, we knew this was a goldmine of valuable experience. Not only are these entrepreneurs extremely zealous about joining Blume Founders in their growth journeys, but they also possess Grit, Patience, Strategic value creation and most importantly ‘Passion’. This led us to accurately identify business gaps within our portfolio companies in a way where we did not need a mere job description or a ‘position to fill’ approach. It helped us to adopt a  non-traditional hiring approach where we identified gaps of the business functions in our invested companies and introduced these founders who have expertise in a similar growth story. We now have a platform where professionals can speak to the Founder/ Business Head and discuss ways in which their experience can solve a specific gap in the product,operations or sales or even a founder’s team role. We have been able to create a hiring practice without a role or a JD and successfully find matches between two professionals with just one skill of being an ‘Entrepreneur’.  

This initiative helped ,many of our portfolio companies  successfully hire professionals who fit senior positions. We now have an expansive pool of Ex Founders who have joined us as Head Strategy, Category Lead, Marketing Head, Senior product manager and so on. With many more in the pipeline, we believe the first version of the ‘Ex Founders Initiative’ has been a great start to a much larger successful outcome of building an Ecosystem full of impresarios joining to create ground-breaking success stories- of the Blumiers, by the Blumiers and for the Blumiers.  

After all- just like Robert H. Schuller said- : “Tough times never last, but tough people do”.