Carbonmade's First Hire

The story of hiring Grant Blakeman.

This article was published on December 09, 2009.
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This is the story of how we went about hiring Grant Blakeman (portfolio) for Carbonmade. Grant is the first person we'll be working with, apart from an intern we had this past summer. (To be precise: Grant is working for us under retainer for January and February. And while he will not be officially employed full-time, he'll be putting in an average of thirty hours a week, spending the rest of the time on his own projects.)

Carbonmade's First Hire

Getting to Know Grant

If it weren't for Twitter, we would never have gotten to know Grant. Dave is part of a joke community on Twitter called Favrd (recently shutdown) where people post jokes and others star them if they like the joke. You rise through the ranks if you receive more stars than other people for a given day.

One day Grant came across Dave's jokes and began following Dave — because Dave is a very funny guy — and Dave followed him back because he liked Grant's work and thought he was an interesting character. This happened back around June, 2009. At that time, Dave posted Grant's portfolio into Campfire as someone we might be interested in working with down the road.

Dave and Grant continued keeping in touch over Twitter during the past six months. Grant started following Jason and me on Twitter more recently. We exchanged friendly @replies and started interacting over Twitter. Grant began reading my blog and I began reading his too. But Twitter started it all.

Reaching Out

Dave, Jason and I discussed bringing a fourth person on as early as eighteen months ago. Back then it wasn't financially possible for us to do so. And then, even when the money was there, we decided we wanted to release our new version before we brought someone else on. However, over the past month we came to the realization that there's never a right time to hire, you just have to pull the trigger and go for it.

On Monday, November 23rd, Dave and I met in our conference room and went over how things were progressing. Everything was really going well, but there's just so much to do that I brought up hiring someone now instead of waiting until our updated app was out. We chatted about it for a while and tossed a few names back and forth. After a few hours we decided we'd reach out to Grant first.

Here's the e-mail Dave and I crafted in the conference room:

Carbonmade's First Hire

And then of course we just waited to hear back.

A Short Phone Call

Grant responded later that evening after we had left the office. He was interested, but wanted to hear more. He wasn't sure if he could commit to a full-time gig right now because he's working on his own projects. Grant is a very driven guy, interested in entrepreneurship and building web apps — like us — and that's one of the reasons we liked him from the beginning.

The next day was Tuesday, November 24th, and at this point I felt like it'd be best to give Grant a call, tell him a bit more about Carbonmade, and walk him through what we were looking for. I filled him in on how the company was founded, what we're working on behind the scenes, and a few long-term ideas we have.

I also told him that we didn't have any specific deliverables in mind. We were looking for someone who could work alongside Dave to tackle a slew of different things every week. When you're building a web app, it's difficult to contract out chunks, because everything flows together. It was never a question of a narrowly task-specific job description.

Grant seemed very upbeat and enthusiastic about working with us. He and I also discovered that we had a mutual friend, Andrew Hyde, and shared the same views on a lot of things. It was really great talking to Grant on the phone. We clicked immediately.

Contract Negotiation

We didn't talk at all about compensation during our conversation over the phone. But at the end, I casually asked him if he could send me a ballpark figure of what he hoped to make and send it to me over e-mail sometime later that day. He said that'd be fine. A few nerve-racking hours passed by and then I heard back.

We exchanged a couple more e-mails. We agreed that he'd start working on January 1st — enough time for him to wrap up the projects he was currently working on — and we also agreed on the compensation. He'd spend January and February working with us and then at the end of February we'd see how everyone felt and go from there. We certainly hope to work with Grant for a long time!

Signing

I mentioned at the very beginning that we had hired an intern back in June. At that time we had our law firm write us up a contract. Thankfully, they wrote it in template form so that we could re-use it. I located it on my computer, read over it again, and thought of a few changes that I wanted to make specific to the type of employee Grant would be.

I fired an e-mail off to our lawyers on Wednesday, November 24th -- the day before Thanksgiving, knowing that I wouldn't get a reply, but hoping they'd see it Friday or the following Monday. I heard back from them on Monday. We talked through the changes and the next day I had a copy of the revised contract for Grant all ready in my e-mail box.

I sent two signed copies to Grant that evening.

See You in New York

Grant will officially be a part of Carbonmade on January 1st and we couldn't be more excited. This is another major milestone for us: previous ones this year having been Dave moving to New York — with Jason to follow in May — and us working out of an office in New York rather than our apartments.

We're flying Grant out to New York sometime in mid-January to spend a week with us. I'm really looking forward to meeting him in person, hanging out, and getting a lot of work done. Hopefully he falls in love with the city and never wants to go home.

That's the story of how we hired Grant Blakeman — and another chapter closed for Carbonmade. Next up: Launching our new app — now sooner rather than later.

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