January 24, 2024

Aku Pöllänen

Growing your SaaS start-up to first 20 employees

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Podcast Summary: Episode of #TalentBuzz with Guest Aku Pöllänen from Aatos App


  • Host: Opens the episode, focusing on talent acquisition in SaaS companies.
  • Guest: Aku Pöllänen, Founder of Aatos App.
  • Topic: The episode covers Aatos App's journey in scaling their team to 20 people and the key learnings in recruiting top talent.

Early Days and Decision to Go Full-Time:

  • Aku and his co-founders initially founded the company as a side hustle, exploring different business ideas.
  • They settled on a legal tech startup concept, developing a service to automate tasks traditionally requiring professional expertise.
  • After two years of part-time work and successful proof of concept, they secured funding and decided to focus on Aatos App full-time.

Hiring Philosophy:

  • Aatos App approached hiring with efficiency, automating processes and hiring only when necessary skills were lacking in the team.
  • Their first hire was for expanding operations in Sweden, a market they were unfamiliar with.

Salary vs. Equity:

  • Aku emphasizes the importance of offering competitive salaries alongside equity.
  • Salaries reflect how much the company values the employee and reduce external stressors, enabling better focus and performance.
  • Equity is used to foster long-term commitment and reward but is not a substitute for fair compensation.

Building the Team:

  • The founding team had a diverse set of skills, including technical and business expertise.
  • They prioritized hiring individuals who could bring new competencies to the team.

Streamlining the Recruitment Process:

  • Aku highlights the importance of planning and focus in the recruitment process.
  • They avoid generic interview questions, tailoring discussions to each candidate's strengths and potential fit with the company culture.
  • The goal is not just to compare candidates but to assess the value they bring to the team.

Role of the CEO in Hiring:

  • As CEO, Aku remains involved in the recruitment process, focusing on conveying the company's vision and culture to candidates.
  • His role has shifted from validating candidates' skills to ensuring a mutual fit and selling the company to potential hires.

Challenges and Tips for Founders:

  • Aku advises other founders to hire conservatively, focusing on efficiency and hiring only when a new employee brings essential skills.
  • He suggests seeking professional recruitment help early on to ensure the hiring of top-quality candidates.

Closing Remarks:

  • Host's Conclusion: Encourages sharing the episode for insights on efficient and strategic talent acquisition in SaaS companies.
  • Sign-off: Reminds listeners of the importance of thoughtful hiring decisions in the growth of SaaS companies.

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