Sourcing for Startups

Many songs motivate me throughout the day. For example, “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osborne, is a song that gets me pumped and ready to source for purple squirrels. Many others keep me going, and one in particular, “Lose Yourself” by Eminem, states “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow it. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.” This got me thinking about entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneurs?” You might ask yourself. Yes, many individuals, including those in the recruiting industry, are entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs typically are motivated to search for repeatable and scalable business models. For example, startups are newly emerged business ventures to develop business models that are viable and that meet various marketplace needs or problems.

Startups are potential leads for many of us in the recruiting industry — for example, those who recruit for AI or biotechnology organizations. When I think of startups, I think of company’s that are growing, and that means needing qualified individuals to make that happen.

I keep track of startups for the industries related to the markets I source. Account managers can use the startup data to connect with individuals from startups during various phases and build relationships with them.

Understanding the Startup Ecosystem

Many company’s we recruit for were once startups. Various industries, such as technology (cloud computing, machine learning/AI and big data), health, energy and more began as a startup.

How do you go about finding industry startups? First, you need to have an understanding of the startup ecosystem. There are many components in it, which can help one find companies and individuals who are part of the process. Startups are formed by individuals, have various stages and various type of organizations in a location (physical or virtual). Organizations can be divided into sub-categories, such as universities, funding organizations, support organization (incubators, accelerators, and co-working spaces), research organizations service providers (legal, financial services and more), as well as large corporations. (Photo: Entrepreneur)

Identifying startups

Using Boolean “newly funded” (startups | start-ups), I was able to identify 10,300 sites to find funded startups. If I want to target a specific industry I recruit for; I would get a more targeted search in return. I found 5,590 using “newly funded” (startups | start-ups) “machine learning” during a search for companies doing machine learning.

There are numerous sites you can use to find startups as well, including:

Another great source of leads is venture capital. Venture capital is typically a private equity form of financing provided by firms or funds to small, early-stage firms that are growing. You can do a Boolean search, such as, “venture capital firms” (“machine learning” | “big data” | AI) (NY | “New York”), which yielded 132,000 results. I noted in one of the sites of the results; the firm will have a portfolio, which will give you insight into firms they have helped, as well as technologies in which they invest.

Using Technology to Identify Startups

I love to use Startup Tracker to discover and track startups for various industries, all the way to IPO. The application is actively being developed so more industries are going to be added.

The Tech Memo, a child company to Startup Tracker, is an application that allows you to keep an eye on mainstream technology without having to read various sites, such as TechCrunch. I like that I can keep track of what companies are up-and-coming, as well as the latest technologies.

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Team Members Needed for Each Stage

The phase of growth of a company will likely determine their hiring needs. For example:

  • Phase 1: Company size of 1 – 50; typically in the imagination stage, little to no management and minimal metrics, if any
  • Phase 2: Company size of 50 – 150; gearing up with management staff introduced along with metrics
  • Phase 3: Company size of 150 – 500; growth and expansion start with some outsourced functions being brought in-house
  • Phase 4: Company size 500+; the company is growing, and more employees can be brought in for different departments

Companies aim to get their operations up and running. Few companies need little or no help from others (friends, family or personal resources). Funding rounds, such as Series A, Series B, and Series C are clues letting you know that they are in the process of growing and are getting help doing this from outside investments.

I want to find funding round data for biotech companies. Using (biotech | biotechnology) (“Series A” | “Series B” | “Series C”). I came across 624 by X-raying into Bloomberg. Additionally, I found 1,760 when searching for funding related to big data, using “big data” (“Series A” | “Series B” | “Series C”).

Another method I like to use is X-raying into LinkedIn. I frequently use (startup | start-up) (biotech | biotechnology), which leads me to 294,000; but I only want founders, so I can add the additional term for a more targeted search, which narrows down my results to 102,000.

I choose one of my results and wanted to find an email for him. A simple Boolean string with his name and Gmail led me to numerous results.

Lastly, another favorite Boolean string that has been successful is (biotech | biotechnology) (CA | California) (startup | “start-up) founder ( | | -job, as it allows me to find startup blogs, links to forums and personal sites for founders.

In Conclusion

Identifying ways to find new leads, whether companies or individuals, is an evolving process. Discounting what one may find as unrelated or unconnected, can actually be a win for someone else who is an “outside of the box” thinker. After all, if many of the Fortune 500 entrepreneurs thought only “in-the-box,” would they be successful today?

Trish is a Research Associate (Sourcer) for Fidelis Companies specializing in executive search and contingency staffing for the semiconductor engineering, biopharmaceutical, ERP and EMR industries. She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and currently resides in the Dallas, Texas area. She currently holds an associates degree in Culinary Arts with certifications in baking. Additionally, she is pursuing degrees in Computer Systems Database Development and Business Administration. Prior to joining Fidelis Companies in 2011 Trish spent eight (8) years in the Air Force, serving state-side and international, and has prior experience in the aviation, mortgage and medical practice management industries. During her free time Trish is an independent resume writer/career counselor and enjoys watching movies with her two cats, Paprika Jane and Patches McGee.