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  • Build

    I walked the candidate into our meeting room. “Welcome to Mozi Labs” I said, as I signaled for her to sit in front of our panel. “I will inform the rest of the team that you made it here safely so that we can start the interview. The weather is really bad outside, I hope that you did not have too much trouble finding our office?” “No,” she responded. “I was so excited about this interview that I made a trip in advance yesterday to ensure that I would be able to find my way easily.” Way to win my persistence points even before the interview started. I like people who come excited about us.

    True passion is hard to find, and when we find it, we find a good place for the person in our organization and nurture that passion. They will be our people champions, spreading positive energy within their teams. We agreed on this before we even started recruiting.

    Our approach to user research has started getting our name out there even though our real product is not built yet, and we have done little to no marketing. People have seen the Wanukus website, which is powered by our data platform and integrated with their interface, which we built. A case study of this got published in mainstream news publications after their launch two weeks ago, and Kutoka pulled all the strings he had to make sure that every major staff and newsroom in the city had a champion talking about us and referring people to the news article.

    “This is the way we make sure that we get top talent without spending a lot of money. Do interesting things that get us press coverage, and get champions everywhere that matter referring to the press coverage. Word of mouth never fails.” Kutoka’s experience always shines through in his platitudes. His positivity also gives him the confidence to approach anybody and get them excited about what we do.

    The thunderstorm was so bad outside, and we had seen a bout of whirlwinds that lifted heavy items off the ground. A whirlwind forcefully pulled Sojuku’s bicycle off the chain that he used to secure it outside the office building yesterday, and it was badly damaged. Kutoka just approved that we reimburse him for the bicycle and build our own secure railings inside the garage. We had sent an email to this candidate not to show up once we started seeing signs of another bad thunderstorm earlier this morning, but she was either too excited or completely missed the email that we sent. We were not expecting to interview her today.

    Danak is starting to hire people to build out his infrastructure team and execute his plan. The first step is to get two people to take over what he does today so that he can begin to focus on infrastructure for our own financial services platform. We did our panel interview, where everyone was impressed by this candidate. Just as she had come one day in advance to know our office, she had also read our news clippings, knew much more about our company than some of us by reading the entire website, and also researched the backgrounds and past experiences of all of us on the founding team. Danak and Jakubu did a technical interview right after, and they were also very impressed.

    I walked her out of the office after the interview, trying to contain my excitement. Did our first candidate just blow our expectations out of the water? Were we just lucky, or did the job market just completely change on us? We had attempted recruiting a year ago before we started getting publicity through our case studies, and the interviews we did were frustrating. We got people who barely understood the reason why our company exists or our strategy of experiential user research in the hinterlands. We stopped that effort out of frustration.

    This new round of recruiting is different, and even the form responses to our job postings are much more unique. As a prerequisite to applying, Sojuku and Meluna programmed an authentication system that has the candidate solve a puzzle and verify a code sent through a text message before an application can be filled out. We are getting significantly fewer applications, but the quality is much higher. Candidates also have a good ice breaker to start the interview, if they take the opportunity to use it. We were excited to get feedback about it from this candidate.

    We are making sure Meluna does not get prematurely excited about her, as we have many others in the pipeline. “We are going to get so many women on our teams, and we are going to have the first culture group. Women of Mozi Labs.” Needless to say, this is a very exciting time for our founding team.

    As a follow-up to our brainstorming session from last week, we have decided to add a marketplace to our plans for launch, where certified businesses that share their commerce data on our platform can find other businesses that they can get services to complete their product offering. This was from the Banetis reaching out to us for help after they got their first inquiry and order from a foreign merchant for their cattle hide.

    There is value in creating a directory of businesses that have capacity, and are open to providing services to the craftspeople who build products in the hinterlands using data from our platform. Our platform will also curate and categorize their services so that they can connect with each other and the craftspeople.

    This was a good week. Next, we implement the new version of our interface for the Banetis and make some hiring decisions after a week tightly packed with interviews. On the first floor, there is a new sports bar that serves my favorite cocktails. Sojuku, Danak and Meluna are down there. I will join them in a moment.

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