The biggest hiring decision I’ve made as the founder at Vend
I founded Vend almost 6 years ago, and it’s amazing to look back on what has changed since then. I have grown a bit older and a lot greyer. It’s no longer just me, I have a couple of hundred amazing people around the globe on the team now. We have raised $49m in funding. Partnered with some amazing companies : Apple, Xero, PayPal among many others. Have incredible customers like Jurlique, The Harvard Shop, Kukri and 15,000 more. We have won a heap of awards along the way. We are NZ’s fastest growing tech company. That is pretty cool. Every year has been completely different from the last, you learn a truck load on the job in a fast growth startup. It is some of the best fun you will ever have while overcoming some huge challenges that scare the crap out of you. You need to be a certain type of person who thrives on this stuff. I think they call it “crazy”.
Part of the deal of startup CEO life is the daily trade-offs you have to make with many hats. You start on day one and you have ALL the hats. Then gradually (or rapidly) as you grow your business, you find more talented people who fit each hat better. A marketeer to market like a boss. You hire a head of sales and she runs revenue like you never could. Someone to run development and ship awesomeness like never before. A CFO to make the numbers work and so you don’t run out of cash. And so on and so on, until you have a bunch of people around you who are all smarter than you. I often describe myself as the dumbest person in the room when I am with my executive team.
As a company grows fast, things change. Over time the hats also get bigger, and you need different wisdom in the heads that fill them. As a hypothetical example you find that perfect CFO in the early days, and she is amazing at being a CFO of a 50 person company, but now you need to grow to 300 people and to IPO. You start enterprise sales so need enterprise experience with knowledge of global markets. Suddenly you have 3 support offices around the globe covering 4 languages which is different to a small support team all based in your home town. As your company rapidly grows, everything changes constantly, and the skills you need also change. People not only specialise in different roles but different stages of company development too. They do their tour doing what they love to do best. Everything grows bigger and one day the time is right. Their job is done and they hand back in their hat because, well, it doesn’t fit right anymore.
I’ve always admired people who know when their hat has grown and they acknowledge they no longer fit it.
At Vend I have continued to shuffle a few hats I passionately care about. The CEO hat, the founder hat, and product visionary hat but the CEO has to consider everyone’s hat fit, even their own. I realised I don’t have enough time to keep wearing all these hats, and so I should hand one on to someone else. I realised my tour with the CEO hat is done and I want to focus on the vision of the product. Both are fucking huge hats. But being CEO of a 200 odd person company growing fast has kept me away from the product vision, which is honestly what I love and why I started Vend.
Starting today I am looking for an experienced, commercially-focused Global CEO who has been-there-done-that with a company that has already gone from $20m to $100M in revenue. She or he knows the challenges that come next and can help me and the team overcome them without slowing down. I will focus on the product vision, evangelising the big changes in retail to come and making sure Vend is leading the industry with innovation. I will also still be on the board alongside Barry, Dave and Sam who are all excited about this evolution, as are our major investors. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform the retail industry.
I am super lucky to be able to make this change now. Alex Fala has been one of my trusted right hand people here at Vend heading Strategy and Finance. He has seen a thing or two at McKinsey, Les Mills and Trade Me in similar roles and I’m thrilled that he has taken me up on the offer to step in as acting CEO while I find a new Global CE.
There is a perfect head out there to fit the Global CEO hat. We want to find them. Someone who has experience in software or SaaS, growing it big globally. They need to be the unique fit for our culture of going hard because we don’t want to go home. They should email me at [email protected] and then we can chat over coffee.
I love the saying – “Change is a constant”. Change is growth. Change is good. Saying it is one thing, but actually doing it is really something else
So we are 6 years in and we have done so much and the next 6 will be even more epic because of what we have already built and our ability to keep changing. It’s time to level up and continue to kick ass. Want to help? Inquire within.