Velma increases its candidate pool by expanding outside the US with Remotely

Early stage

Velma is a seed-stage startup based in NYC that puts Product Ops on autopilot for software teams. The company's AI assistant integrates into the existing workflows to manage projects and send updates and alerts directly through the tools already in use, enabling companies to optimize for the long-term success of their business. 

Expanding their candidate pool in a remote world

“Before Remotely we had a huge problem with hiring… it took up all of my time. In today’s market, it’s extremely competitive and extremely difficult,” explains Velma’s Co-founder and CEO, Lisa Jiang. 

We wanted to increase our pool of candidates, and so, in a remote world, that means expanding outside of the US.

Finding a partner to build a global engineering team

Lisa and the team realized they needed a partner. Exploring the option of building a global team, they looked into setting up an entity but found that option to be very expensive. More importantly, they realized they didn’t have the right network to hire abroad independently: “that takes a lot of time to build, and we're not really well connected in other countries.” Lisa explains that while they have a strong network in the US, they didn’t know the competitive companies in other hiring markets, or where and how to find top talent. 

They narrowed down hiring markets to those with the closest time-zone overlap to preserve the close-knit nature of their team. With that in mind, “places like Romana and Europe were really out of the question.” 

Prior to trying Remotely, they worked with another company based out of Argentina: “we had a lot of issues with them. We actually tried one of their developers for a month, and I spent a lot of time getting them up to speed… but it just didn’t end up being the right fit.” 

Shortly thereafter, Lisa found Remotely.

The benefit of Remotely’s motivation structure 

After her poor experience with another company, Lisa was a bit hesitant to move forward – but really liked Remotely’s motivation structure and considered it a huge advantage:

Remotely is set up so we have direct access to the pay, the equity, etc. The [developers] are working for us, but Remotely is setting up all the operations.

Remotely's operational support includes everything from abiding by employment laws and compliance to managing payroll and more. 

“The engineering manager we’re hiring right now, they’re most excited by the equity piece of it. We’re not filtering from people who want to join an agency, then want to work with us. We're just filtering and people who are the perfect match for our company. So that motivation structure for the employee is really important and getting the right talent. And then the selection process of matching the right people.” Lisa explains.

The partnership with Remotely has been going really well so far. It really does feel like a partnership. I think our incentives and motivations are aligned: finding the best long-term talent.

In addition to the basic structure, Lisa really likes the option of hiring on the talent directly in 5 years, or even beforehand if they wanted to pay a bit more. 

Women in tech, and equitable hiring processes

Lisa has been in software engineering for over a decade. Immediately prior to founding Velma, Lisa was leading the machine learning engineering team at ASAPP, and witnessed the company grow from 40 to 300 engineers. Lisa talks about being a female in tech and explains, “I don’t want to be treated differently because I’m female —'because we have a diversity percentage now you get this role.' Those are my personal concerns, and concerns of other females that have been hired into these positions.” She also mentions there’s a lot of concern over how women will be treated long-term. At a given company, "will people talk down to me just because I’m female and they think I know less?” Or how her gender might impact promotion cycles, “it’s not just to have females hired into entry-level positions, but being able to get promoted up.”

What she believes is important in attracting female talent? Build an equitable hiring process, and make sure it’s very unbiased from the beginning: “resumes, how we write the language… being conscientious of how you’re attracting talent that’s diverse, making sure it’s fair.” She also mentions ensuring that the interview environment is comfortable to both females and males, especially if there’s a different experience in terms of what people are open to.

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