October 1, 2008

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Assembling the C-level Suite

How to Staff High-level Talent at Your Startup

Tom Haraldsen

October 1, 2008

Congratulations — you’ve just re-invented the wheel. Or perhaps that’s just the way it feels. You’ve created the perfect business idea or plan, refined it and prepared it for implementation. Now if you can just find a team to help you get things going. In a state where entrepreneurship is highly valued and extremely prolific, getting the people you need might be easier than you may think. You just have to know where to look. Both the public and private sectors in Utah have some great resources, many as close as the nearest computer. “When you’re going with a start-up especially, you don’t always know where to go to find the people you need to hire,” says Amy Rees Anderson, CEO of MediConnect Global. “It makes all the difference in the world to find the right members for your team.” Anderson joined MediConnect in 2002, a firm specializing in retrieving medical records for insurance companies and law firms via the Internet. She’d already founded and managed a number of health care technology companies, which helped her in assembling her management staff. Still… “You have to realize that you can’t know everything or do everything by yourself,” she says. “It’s okay not to be good at everything.” In Anderson’s case, she turned to Dennis Wood at vSpring Capital, a venture capital firm in Salt Lake City. “Dennis was a great resource for helping me recruit executives,” Anderson says. “We knew that we needed to stay pretty much within the network we had with medical technology. He had a pretty good handle on where the talent was in this area.” Staying within the network of businesses is a smart way to go for new company owners. When United Shipping Solutions of Salt Lake City started in August of 2002, Vice President of Sales Rob Ross said its management team looked to the industry it served—transportation and logistics. “We had a relationship with Airborne Express already,” he says. “There were several key people who worked together to form United Shipping, but we turned to those who were in the shipping business to fill other key slots, as well as to begin developing our franchise system.” Today, Ross says, USS has 254 franchises in the United States. Perhaps your situation is different than those of Anderson and Ross. Perhaps your idea is exclusive, and there’s no one else out there doing anything similar, no easy neighborhood of like-minded sales managers, accountants and human resource directors to pull from. What then? The state of Utah created a Website last spring called Utah Works for You (www.utahworksforyou.com). Similar to the register for job openings in state government, the site posts both job open-ings and resumes for top professionals. “If you are a professional who wants to get your resume in front of top executives, Utah Works works,” says Jason Perry, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “Likewise, all businesses looking for executives can share in the resumes that are coming in and being posted.” Perry says the site is being promoted at a number of trade shows, in site-selection magazines and in targeted consumer newspapers across the country. Alumni associations at both the University of Utah and Brigham Young University have signed on as well, “and the number of responses we’ve received has been heartwarming,” Perry says. The state conducted a survey of college graduates who left Utah and it revealed that more than 13,000 graduates want to return to the Beehive State. “That gives us a tremendous pool of talent to pull from and offer to businesses here,” Perry says. In the private sector, another resource for finding executive talent is the Utah Business Accelerator, a for-profit business development organization launched in July. At the company’s unveiling, founder Ned Maxfield said his company’s goal is directed towards “applying the best resources at the best time to address a specific need or correct a specific problem.” That includes the need for “human capital”—mentors, suppliers or partners. The company has assembled a large number of business professionals who will serve as advisers to its clients. This comes at a time when Utah is still considered a top place for business. CNBC ranked Utah the third best state in the nation for business, the second consecutive year it has achieved that position. “The key thing to remember is that for the entrepreneur with a start-up, there are plenty of resources to help them get going,” Perry says. “This is a great place to recruit and hire executives and professionals for help with a new business.”
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