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April 8, 2024

This climate tech startup hired 20% of their team on Paraform.

Sasankh Munukutla
Co-founder @ Terradot

Terradot hired 4 people with us. This climate tech startup was founded in 2022. Their scientific board of advisors have over 100,000 citations. They’re backed by Sheryl Sandberg, Kleiner Perkins, Stanford’s TomKat Center, and other powerful investors.

When your mission is to regenerate Earth, you can’t compromise on talent. Sasankh kindly joined us to talk about his company and how he uses Paraform to hire all-star candidates!

By the numbers

Before we get into the story, here’s the stats sheet. By using Paraform, Terradot:

  • Reduced hiring time by 50%.
  • Interviewed >70% of candidates.
  • Saved 40% in recruiting fees by not working with an agency.

Paraform specializes in building a network of expert recruiters who have experience with startups. Founder’s calendars are busy, their time is valuable. Reducing waste by working with domain experts is a no-brainer.

Good recruiters, like the ones on Paraform, screen candidates for founders and often save hours (not overall – but save hours for every candidate!). They can also unlock access to ideal candidates that are hard to reach, like a 10x engineer or researcher who’s allergic to LinkedIn.

Dr. Carolina (hired through Paraform) and James (Co-founder @ Terradot)
Dr. Carolina (hired through Paraform) and James (Co-founder @ Terradot)

Terradot’s story

Terradot was founded in the Stanford Soil & Environmental Biogeochemistry lab. The company’s co-founders, Sasankh and James, aren’t afraid of being ambitious. Terradot aims to build the biggest carbon dioxide removal solution on the planet.

Earth rock weathering (ERW) is a naturally occurring geochemical process. Silicate rocks like basalt react with CO2, releasing particles that bond with carbon dioxide. This creates bicarbonate solids that will eventually reach and remain in the ocean for millenia.

Terradot is accelerating ERW by spreading crushed silicate on farmland. There are billions of tons of this rock byproduct already available as a result of mining operations.

They’re also building a cutting-edge system to measure the impact of all of this. If the business model sounds difficult to pull off – you’re right. Which is why Terradot started (and kept on) working with Paraform.

Breaking the bottleneck

The startup is also well-funded and executed several successful pilots with customers. But hiring quickly turned into a bottleneck. Sasankh knew he couldn’t hire just anyone:

"As a founder, not compromising on hiring standards is extremely important. Holding out for the perfect candidate can be painful, but it’s worth it. I keep coming back to Paraform because here, we don’t have to make that tradeoff. We get excellent candidates – fast."

To date, over 20% of Terradot’s team has been hired through Paraform. Freelance recruiter Marcus Dubois placed a Tech Lead. Zully Pájaro Fernández and Carlos Martinez filled three Lead Research Scientist roles. We also helped them find Founding Engineers, ERW Researchers, and Scientists.

"Candidate quality was awesome! Consistently A+ level. I interviewed pretty much everyone sent my way. We just don’t get that elsewhere!"

Sasankh mentioned that recruiting is the “most important, highest leverage” duty of a founder. It’s hard to spend enough time doing it, so optimizing your recruiting time is critical. Terradot gets positive results, faster, with a series of Paraform tools.

Using killer features

There are a few tricks that Sasankh and his team use to boost their hiring:

  1. Set aside time every day for recruiting,
  2. Be responsive to new submissions,
  3. Give recruiters detailed feedback,
  4. Reach out to as many candidates as possible.

We turn these tricks into tools.

First, the platform’s notification system enables you to set recurring reminders to review tasks, talk to recruiters, and more. Since recruiting is so important, you want to build it into a habit.

Second, Paraform’s Slack integration “makes everything seamless”. Getting a ping from our dedicated recruiting channel is a reliable source of excitement. Since Terradot’s fieldwork has them away from their keyboards, being able to request interviews via mobile is super handy.

"The integration with Slack let me keep a tight feedback loop and interview great people right away. Recruiters were super responsive and the marketplace-like nature of Paraform is what allowed me to connect with recruiters with connections in the right networks."

Third, When Sasankh passes on a candidate, he wants recruiters to know why. A well-developed sense of intuition speeds up hiring. Using features like scorecards and comments allows him to communicate the right info at the right time.

Lastly, Terradot is hiring in a small niche – scientists. There aren’t that many around, really. And the company’s strategic emphasis on in-person collaboration narrows the segment even further. Reaching as many people as possible is a necessity.

"Not having access to the right people was a big problem. But this went away as soon as we started using Paraform."

We automatically connect you with the right recruiters; ones who have deep networks in your target niche. This dramatically widens the top of your hiring funnel.

"I was recommended the best, most relevant recruiters first. We could easily approve based on their track record and invite more if needed."

If you have a high bar, like Sasankh, it’s easy to keep your standards up. Paraform allows you to work only with the recruiters that are a good match for your hiring needs.

Replicating Terradot’s success

A winning recruiting strategy has two parts. First, you cast a wide net. Reaching as many smart, high-agency professionals as possible is the goal. Second, you need to filter those candidates so your hiring pipeline doesn’t get overwhelmed.

"A lot of the time, great scientists and researchers are engrossed in their work. They’re not constantly scanning for new opportunities – so traditional channels like job boards don’t cut it. In this case, it really is about knowing the people who know the people. And that’s why Paraform went from a low-risk trial tool to one of our main recruiting weapons."

Working with multiple expert recruiters on Paraform allows you to accomplish those goals simultaneously, all while saving on agency fees. On the platform, you can find recruiters who have specialized in working with companies at your stage (e.g., Seed, Series-A, or Series-B) or recruiters with domain expertise in your market (e.g. climate, engineering, growth hacking, sales).

"A major advantage of hiring here was that the platform is oriented towards early-stage operators, companies, and recruiters. There’s a higher density of the right kind of talent. Obviously we fall into that category! And it’s a good time to be there, because Paraform is connecting the dots for startup recruiting like no other."

Combine those two circles (Stage and Market) and you’ll find the right candidates at the intersection. Improving your reach in that niche is essential if you’re keen on finding perfect founding employees. And you should be.

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