Back to Company Testimonials
April 10, 2024

How Decagon hired both Founding Engineer and AE in under 1 month on Paraform

Ashwin Sreenivas
Co-Founder @ Decagon

Decagon is an early-stage startup building enterprise-grade generative AI for customer support. Their clients include large enterprises and fast growing startups like Eventbrite, Bilt, Vanta and Substack. They’re backed by world-class investors like a16z.

The team at Decagon has had success with traditionally difficult-to-fill roles like first engineers and sales chief. Using Paraform helped. David Hanley, an early-stage startup recruiting specialist, sourced a Founding Engineer for this small AI team. Sangwoo Bae hit the ground running, shipping code to prod on his first day.

Decagon also recently hired a Founding Account Executive in Bob Kamburov. This was thanks to one of the founders at SourceMultipler, Sean Hallihan, who is a Paraform power recruiter.

We talked to Ashwin Sreenivas, one of the co-founders of Decagon, to hear more about his success finding Seed-Series A talent on Paraform.

How was your overall experience with Paraform?

Ashwin found that recruiters on Paraform, unlike other agencies he worked with, prioritized the interests of the hiring manager. He had some poor experiences with agencies pushing personal agendas based on their relationships with candidates, often undervaluing the filters provided by hiring managers.

“The primary reason I like Paraform over other vendors is the quality of candidates.”

Rather than being pushed a regular list of people, Decagon was provided with high quality candidates that had already been vetted for the things he asked for, like interest in the company’s business model. By using Paraform, he was able to avoid tire kickers who didn’t actually want to start a new job.

“100% of our professionally headhunted hires have been made through Paraform.”

Within the first month, Decagon had hired their first person. From Ashwin’s experience, that’s a rapid timeline for hiring founding engineer. No other solutions were providing Ashwin with both quality and speed when it came to sourcing talent.

“Paraform was extremely valuable for recruiting.”

How does Paraform compare to other tools?

Ashwin has referred our product to other startups. It worked for him, and he felt like it would work for other companies in a similar position. His analysis is straightforward. First, the candidates are just better. Second, Paraform is unusually good for Seed, Series A, and Series B companies.

“The thing that was most useful is that candidates are high quality AND screened. By the time I interview them, I know they’re serious.”

This means that Ashwin can focus on what he does best as a hiring manager – assessing technical skills. By experience, he’s confident that Paraform recruiters have screened according to the filters he provided. This is a timesaver for everyone. Especially startups, who have little time to spare.

Decagon is hot off the starting blocks.Unfortunately, there aren’t many good options for new companies looking for talent. Which is why Ashwin pointed his contacts to us.

“When it comes to Series A, Series B, and anything before that, there’s nothing like Paraform.”

Recruiters on Paraform tend to have deeper experience with startup talent than your average headhunter or agency. The game is simply different with very young companies. Candidates are looking for impact and opportunity, not just compensation and stability.

There are plenty of subtleties to take into account – but these get passed over by most.

What’s your favorite feature?

Once again, the Slack integration is a hit.

Ashwin said it’s his favorite feature because he “lives in Slack”. Being able to get instant updates in-app and follow up on interviews makes his life a lot easier. It helps him keep a high response rate and engage with things, which speeds up the process for recruiters as well.

That seamless fit into Ashwin’s workflow turns recruiting from a task to a habit. Establishing and maintaining a rapid, high-signal feedback loop with your recruiters becomes natural.

Which is good. Top engineers, effective salespeople, and star generalists aren’t often on the market for long. With that elevated tempo, you’re in a much better position to capitalize on great talent.

How do you define a high caliber candidate?

Decagon looks for proof of exceptionalism. Either a candidate has built something really cool themselves or has worked at a company we admire. Or a great school with a great program. Some combination of the above works as well.

“For us, it’s someone that has spiked in some way before.”

That spike is an indicator of someone’s potential – and if they can have another spike while working at Decagon, that’s ideal. Beyond that, Ashwin focuses on finding depth of knowledge. So, once he asks someone a question, he tries to go one layer deeper, then another, then another.

“How deep can you go before their understanding breaks?”

In terms of a technical evaluation, it’s a great tactic. Ashwin is a strong assessor of hard skills and intellectual capability. Using Paraform means he can focus on applying this strength, since he gets properly screened candidates from expert, well-incentivized recruiters.

Get started
Ready to start hiring with Paraform?
Start hiring

Start your search today.

Speak with our team to learn more about how Paraform can help you fill your difficult positions