Case Studies

Feature: The Top-Talent Trick

Entrepreneur Magazine’s Liz Brody highlights 3 Inkwell case studies in the January-February 2019 print issue.

“By offering workplace flexibility, startups are attracting executives they otherwise couldn’t afford.”

WeTransferDamian Bradfield

Image credit: WeTransferDamian Bradfield

Benefit: Part-Time Execs

WeTransfer is a file-sharing service based in Amsterdam, where workplace flexibility is common practice. When president Damian Bradfield was hiring to staff the company’s tiny Los Angeles office, however, he didn’t think to offer much flexibility simply because it’s less common here. But there was a snag: WeTransfer wanted senior-level people part-time. “If I can hire a really good heavyweight executive a few days a week to make an impact on our business until we get to a place where we can afford them full-time,” says Bradfield, “that’s great for us, and even better if it works for both parties.” Through Inkwell, he found a mother with 12 years of experience to head up U.S. brand partnerships, and a man with a consulting firm who would double as VP of business development. Both started part-time and now work five days a week -- with the option to do it remotely.

Paddle8Osman Khan

Image credit: Weston WellsOsman Khan

Benefit: Affordable Salaries

In its early days, the online auction platform Paddle8 had 25 employees and was looking to scale, but it didn’t have the budget for heavy hitters. Cofounder Osman Khan says he liked the idea of “finding talent that was willing to take a haircut to their market rate” -- and decided to try Inkwell. The first person he hired was his head of HR. She was a former head of HR at Gucci, where she’d made $500,000. At Paddle8, she made $125,000 -- but could work at home two days a week. “Once I saw the success of that [hire], I drank the Kool-Aid pretty hard,” Khan says. He then filled several other key positions through Inkwell -- a CFO, controller, a general counsel, accounting and marketing roles. “There’s a lot of people who assume that flexible work equals less work,” says Khan. “But productivity was through the roof. You just have to create a company culture that embraces that model.”

CrunchbaseJager McConnell

Image credit: CrunchbaseJager McConnell

Benefit: Diversification

In 2017, Crunchbase CEO Jager McConnell was at a conference speaking about diversifying executive teams. Afterward, Inkwell’s DeFelice came up to him to explain her platform. He was intrigued, although concerned about the impact it would have on company culture. “But I was also super excited because I was looking to make my own team more diverse,” he says. McConnell hired his new head of people through Inkwell as a test case. He found a young mother who’d run HR departments for nearly 10 years and was willing to take the job so long as she could work from home on Thursdays. That hire turned out so well that McConnell engaged Inkwell to search for a head of finance. As for the culture? “When Crunchbase acknowledges that family life is important, we not only get better output from employees, we retain them longer.”