First, We Applied for a Big Grant
Back in June we applied for our biggest grant so far. If it was successful, we would receive a grant of around 160.000€ with an additional 150.000€ loan which we would need to pay back in the next years. This meant - with over 300K to work with - we could hire our first employees, pay a code audit, pay our lawyer and even pay us founders our first salaries - which we’d see as a very welcome change indeed. So after weeks and months of preparation and work, on the 5th of June 2019 we sent off our application.
A Long and Uncertain Wait
So off it went, and even though finishing an application was relieving, we knew this did not mean much. It was only a chance of getting this money. And on top of that, we knew we would have to wait until September to get the notice. So we still had to count with a negative and it was with this mentality we went into the next few months.
We Decided to Gamble
Then August came around. We were invited to an official review of our application. This meant we made it to the second round - 🎉 (but still no certainty). In the application we already mentioned we would hire three employees, but only one of them we already had a candidate for. As a result, they told us if we received the grant, we would have to fill one of the positions until they would send us the first batch. Hiring is no easy feat, and we were beginners at that. Was it worth taking the risk of investing a lot of hours into hiring a person if we may not even get the grant in the end? We would waste our time and the time of applicants. We made a leap of faith and just went for it.
The Hiring Process Starts
The next days I worked on our job description. A big shoutout to ghost.org - their style and structure was great inspiration! After we distributed it through a few channels we for a responses. Raphael pre-filtered many of the applications and with a few we set up a video call. The grant was restricted to Austria 🇦🇹, so even though we are open for remote workers, this position needed to be filled anywhere in Austria.
It was fun getting to dive into this area from an employers perspective. So far we’ve only sat on the other side of the table. One thing I learned was that you really get much more interested if an application sticks out from standard, generic descriptions. And then in our situation you really stick out if you are already into privacy and burning for our mission. We had two applicants who restricted their work to only privacy projects. One of them could not move to Austria, which was a dealbreaker, and the other one was Luke.
Then Luke Appeared on the Scene
From the very first email we received from Luke we learnt two things: he burns for privacy and he is outspoken. This was even more affirmed after Raphael and I got to know him via a video call (Luke’s from the United Kingdom).
The even crazier thing about this was, Luke found out about us and the job via The Hated One. I appeared on his channel twice, but would never have thought that this would end up helping us hiring our designer. HUGE shoutout to THO!!!
After plenty of interviews and rounds we had the two most promising candidates remaining. The other applicant lived nearby, so we could meet in person, but Luke we only meat digitally.
Flying Him In
Since it’s easy to pull off a show for a few hours online, we really wanted to get to know Luke in person before making our decision. We offered him to fly in over the weekend, which he accepted after some suspicion.
We booked the flight the day before we received the result about the grant, which increased the gamble, but hey: the next day we got it 🎉
His Weekend in Austria
The weekend was very fun! For me at least - I know Luke rather very nervous in the beginning. He arrived Friday evening, and all of us met on Saturday for lunch at a pizza place. Luke accidentally ordered a pizza, which turned out to be rather complicated to eat, which made him stress out even more. Imagine his situation: You’re going to an interview for a job you’re excited about. You know you and another candidate are the only ones left. And then all three founders and you go grab some lunch. All eyes on you - and then you’re having troubles eating your pizza.
Well, it surely was no easy situation for him, but as time went by everything loosened up a bit so things got more relaxed. We had some live designing, had some lengthy chats and then went to eat dinner to round tings off. Of course we covered all costs.
Luke had to be sure about this too, since it meant he would have to move to another country. So it was good we had plenty of time.
The next day we dropped him off at the airport. And that Sunday evening all involved knew: the big decision would be made the next day.
His Burning for Privacy Was the Dealbreaker
It is rather obvious by now that we decided to hire Luke. But both candidates were promising: both had strengths and weaknesses in different areas and both were outspoken. Being blunt turns out to be especially helpful when us founders are rather hardheaded. So what was the dealbreaker? Luke is burning for privacy. He has a personal privacy project which you should check out too.
Starting out in Austria
It took Luke a few weeks to pack up his things and move to Austria, but soon enough, at the beginning of October he became our lead designer. We are very grateful for his work so far and see him as a perfect fit for the job.
Sidenote: Luke talks all about his side of the story in the podcast. Also, you can follow him on Twitter.
Again, this would not have been possible without The Hated One! It was a pleasure talking to him and if you don’t know him already, check out his videos. They’re a great resource for privacy and related topics.
Also, if you like what we do, please consider following and supporting us whichever way works for you. We are really excited about the months ahead of us!
November 30, 2019 • Written by David