Mar 15

How to Win Candidates

A discussion with Troy Sultan at Guide

Open in playerListen on);
Patterns and prophets, in SaaS and Web3
Episode details

Good morning! Before we get into the podcast, I’ll share two announcements:

(1) You may have noticed that I changed the name of the newsletter. I was tired of the “new normal” term for many reasons. Consider the name “Allison Pickens’ Newsletter” as all-encompassing of “things Allison is thinking about that may be worth sharing” and as perhaps a temporary placeholder for a new thematic title to come.

(2) I enabled liking + commenting for the first time. I generally don’t enjoy social media because (a) it often brings out the worst in humanity and (b) I want to cultivate my intrinsic motivation to write and also continue to be motivated to publish perspectives that are contrarian or not exactly in-the-moment, irrespective of “like” counts. But I’m interested in facilitating discussion on the topics that I write and speak about, so I’m enabling comments, and Substack then enables liking by default. If you feel inspired after listening to this podcast, I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below.

And, if you’d like to stay in the loop about topics related to scaling SaaS and Web3 companies, you can subscribe (for free) here:

On to the podcast!


The competition for talent is fierce. Recently I've seen founders go to extraordinary lengths to win over and retain talented people. Here are some anecdotes:

  • Company A: Built up a list of tech-related Slack communities in small towns across the country to recruit little-known engineers

  • Company B: Celebrates every new hire by posting a profile of them to Twitter.

  • Company C: Offers an EIR program where top talent can learn entrepreneurial skills at their company and stay for only one year — because they don't hope to retain them beyond that, and figure they could get better people if they just admitted it.

  • Company D, E, F…: Paying sky-high salaries. Says one founder: "We saw a product marketing talent with 5 years of experience get 6 offers in 5 days, for a base salary of $270K."

Troy Sultan, founder of Guide, thinks about the problem of winning candidates all day long. In this fireside chat, we discussed:

  • How to do “candidate discovery” in the way you’d run a discovery call with a prospective customer

  • How to design your hiring process like a product

  • Whether it’s a good idea to win a candidate based on compensation

Hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did!


Executive Roles

Speaking of hiring candidates…I’m going to include a few leadership roles that are on my radar, in each post going forward.

PipeDreams Ventures is the next gen, tech powered home services provider. We acquire trusted home services businesses with amazing teams, and use technology to transform them from pen and paper operations to industry leading organizations. The PipeDreams team comes from companies like Nextdoor, Bain, and Roto-Rooter. We have a deep understanding of small business dynamics and unique insights into the local marketing, technology, and M&A needed to disrupt home services – a highly fragmented, $830B industry in desperate need of modernization.

We've raised $40M in venture funding and have achieved over $10M revenue run rate in our first year and expect to grow 5X this year - with operating profitability. We're currently looking for an experienced COO to help us scale our rapid growth. If interested, contact


Have a good week!