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When we think about disruptive brands, we often think about companies driven by bold, innovative technology. But that’s only half the story. They’re also driven by bold, innovative people.

For young start-ups especially, getting hiring right is essential. These early hires don’t just perform the role they’re appointed to – they lay the foundations for a company’s culture, and help shape its future development.

In Marketing Week’s latest set of interviews as part of the 100 Disruptive Brands initiative (check out the previous video about nurturing your disruptive brand through the early years if you missed it), six founders explain exactly what they look for when adding new minds to their team. 

1. A pioneering spirit

Most disruptive brands are born from a determination to do things differently – to look beyond business models in their industry, and find a smarter way forwards.

As a disruptor grows, protecting and nurturing that pioneering spirit is key to staying one step ahead of more traditional competitors. And that makes it a must-have for new recruits, especially when the space your brand is operating in is evolving day by day. As Andy Hobsbawm, founder and CMO of Evrythng, explains… 

The thing that we’re doing is a very emergent market space and technology space. I think you have to have a sense of adventurousness, exploration and experimentation” – Andy Hobsbawm, co-founder and CMO of Evrythng.   

2. A willingness to take risks 

It’s hard to be a pioneer if you’re afraid to fail. When hiring new staff, successful disruptors value a willingness to take risks – and crucially, to respond well, whatever the outcome.

As Stephen Rapoport of Pact suggests, people who can handle failure positively are often those who are able to leave their personal pride at the office door, and put the needs of the company first. 

We look for people who are bold, who are prepared to risk failure, who will put the company’s needs ahead of their own and ahead of their ego” – Stephen Rapoport, founder of Pact. 

3. A cultural fit

For disruptors, being able to do the job isn’t enough. Hiring people who don’t share your values or ethos is liable to result in both a weaker brand and an unhappy new employee.

Justin Basini, co-founder and CEO of ClearScore, says hiring to fit – and foster – the brand’s culture is essential. 

Most people that we come across can do the job we’re asking them to do. The key thing for me is, are they a cultural fit?” – Justin Basini, co-founder and CEO of ClearScore. 

4. Not the background you’d expect

When it comes to the background of their job applicants, disruptors are unusually open-minded. And often the most important attribute that people can bring with them is innovative and creative thinking – that’s the approach taken by Kirsty Emery, co-founder of Unmade. 

This is great news for the many former business leaders, disillusioned by life in a corporate environment, setting out to found or join disruptive brands. While their appetite for innovation and change may have gone unsatisfied in their previous role, it’s essential for success in agile start-ups.

[For] a lot of the people who work here, the field that they currently work in isn’t their first field of study. They have transferred from something else” – Kirsty Emery, co-founder of Unmade. 

5. Absolute devotion and a ‘can-do’ attitude

Disruptive brands aren’t looking for people who’ll clock on, work, and clock off. They’re looking for people who are happy to be consumed by their day – and probably night – jobs, moving from task to task as priorities change.

As James Kirkham, chief strategy officer for Copa90, puts it, you need a “ridiculous amount of ‘get up and go’ to succeed in a disruptive brand […] This is not the kind of business where you’ll quietly settle for a nine-to-five, sit in the corner, work on the same piece of work and go home again”. 

While these disrupters hail from different industries, they’re united by a customer-centric vision and genuine passion for what they do – and it shows when you look at the characteristics and commitment they expect of new hires.

Download a copy of the Small Business, Big Impact e-book for inspiration and advice to help you start and grow your own disruptive business – and be one of Marketing Week’s 100 Disruptive Brands for 2017!