From the beginning of ArrayFire, our mindset was to bootstrap our team and retain full ownership of our business. That meant that we could not pay ourselves well in the early days. I’ve written about my first 5 years of salary previously.
In addition to not paying ourselves very well, we were also not in a position early on to pay our team market rate salaries. We used profits interest units instead to make the compensation more enticing.
Today, I was speaking to a group of graduate students in a TI:GER class at Georgia Tech. One of the students asked how did we build a team in the early days when we did not have adequate money.
The answer is that it is hard. In addition to the granting of the units, it is also important to paint the picture for where the company is headed and how traction will be achieved.
One very powerful way I was able to paint the picture for new hires financially was to explain how my own salary was very low. I would promise that I would not raise my own salary without also raising my employee’s salaries in lock step as the business became more successful. Through the years, we stuck to that plan and were able to best raise the boat for all team members.
How have you built a bootstrap-minded team?