#SeedStage Startup Advice

Key Qualities of a Good Startup Employee

Mon 09 Apr 2018
By Michelle McNamara

Startups are renowned for having a fast-paced, experimental environment. To be successful, there are certain characteristics a startup employee must have, such as being a self-starter and willing to wear many hats. It’s also important to look closely at each individual company, since each startup has a unique culture and set of values.

In a recent panel, three founders, including our co-founder Laura Behrens-Wu, shared what qualities they’re looking for in new hires. Laura was joined by Mada Seghete, co-founder and head of marketing at Branch Metrics, and Heidi Zak, co-founder and co-CEO of ThirdLove.

Here are the characteristics that were top of mind for each co-founder.

ThirdLove Looks for a Positive Attitude

“One [quality] that I find to be the most important is a very positive attitude. It doesn’t matter if you’re the smartest person in the room. It doesn’t matter if you have a certain skill set,” explained Heidi. “It matters if you come in each and every day and have a positive attitude and affect others around you to join in being positive.”

Branch Metrics Seeks Fast-paced Executors

“The last time we [came up with our values], we asked ourselves: what do successful Branch employees have in common? Oh, they all move really fast. Let’s make fast iteration a value. They’re all really focused on execution. Let’s make execution one of our values,” said Mada.

“We always make sure that one person who’s not on the team meets with potential hires just to judge if it’s a culture fit. We look for someone who’s humble and doesn’t think they’re better than everyone else in the room.”

Shippo Values An Entrepreneurial Spirit and Strong Moral Compass

“At a startup, most of the time there are no guidelines. We don’t have a playbook for everything. That’s why we think values are really important in the hiring process,” said Laura. “Top of mind is everyone joining Shippo now needs to be entrepreneurial. That means they are looking to work on difficult challenges.”

“At Shippo, we haven’t won yet, and we’re always looking to keep pushing. Everyone in Silicon Valley could probably join Google or Facebook—a nice, cushy job—but they’re choosing to come to us, because they’re able to contribute in an entrepreneurial way, take ownership, and form the strategy.”

“In addition, we’re not looking to win at any cost. So people who are able to take the high road and make moral decisions [are a good fit at Shippo]. We call that the front page test. If someone writes about your behaviour on the front page of the newspaper, would you be proud of that? If you’re not proud of that, don’t do it.”

“Last but not least, we’re a company with real revenues. And, revenues come from our customers. Customers come first in everything we do, so customer centricity is an important quality to have.”

Sure, startups are generally looking for employees that can work independently and quickly, but culture is so different from company to company, too. It’s important to spend time on a startup’s website to get a sense of what values and attributed make them unique.

Shippo is hiring! If you have the characteristics above, and are interested in joining our team, check out our Jobs page to see our available positions.


Shippo is a multi-carrier API and web app that helps retailers, marketplaces and platforms connect to a global network of carriers. Businesses use Shippo to get real-time rates, print labels, automate international paperwork, track packages and facilitate returns. Shippo provides the tools to help businesses succeed through shipping.
Next post

Apr 11, 2018
DHL vs. FedEx vs. UPS vs. USPS—2018 International Shipping Rates Comparison

Previous posts

Apr 06, 2018
Platforms and Developers Provide a Native Shipping Integration with OAuth

Apr 04, 2018
5 Must-follow Tips to Grow Your Business the Right Way

Sign up for the Shippo Blog

Receive emails with news and announcements we post on this blog.