Hiring the startup dream team -Moonshot or nightmare? 

February 25, 2021

The stakes are very high in startup hiring. Typically, startups are formed by small teams where team members wear many hats simultaneously. Oftentimes the product or service they offer addresses a very specific market gap. Hence, they require very specific talent that they might not find in the EU. The fitting additional team member with the matching skill set can be a game-changer and take a startup to the next level.

For that reason, startup entrepreneurs have the willingness to launch lengthy processes in order to find the right asset for their team. However,  most of the time the path between finding and hiring is a slow and burdensome one for a startup entrepreneur, and it can become a discouraging complexifier. The administrative costs and slowness of onboarding an employee from outside the headquarters makes it difficult, if not impossible for startups to hire talent outside of their respective ecosystem. 

As it stands, Member States and the EU could be doing more to support startups finding talent. Startups need simple procedures to employ the best available talent, and Europe needs to become more attractive for founders and skilled workers. Member States’ startup visas would transform a burdensome and lengthy process into a fast and painless one. Lowering the administrative burden will enable startups to focus on what is really important for them – innovation. 

The Startup Nations Standard (coming soon) will present a best practice for a startup visa and will encourage Member States to implement it, Ideally, the startup visa will allow non-EU citizens to come to any given EU country and then be able to work in another. The beneficiary of this visa should be allowed to work in the 22 EU countries that are members of the Schengen Area like we suggested in our 13 recommendations. This process should be fast, simple and straightforward so that startups can hire non-EU talent.  

We know it works because other countries in Europe such as Ireland, France, Denmark, Austria or the Netherlands have visas for non-EU founders who want to start-up in these respective ecosystems.  The majority of EU countries also have visas for startup employees, but the processing time of these visas can go from 10 days for the Spanish Startup Visa to several weeks for other visas. Member State’s Startup Visa should be built on the best of what is already available. Our hope is that these startup visas are open, fees only reflect administrative costs and that they will be processed in a startup-friendly timeframe

Making it easy for startups to hire and retain talent is key to our post-COVID economic recovery. When starting up, an entrepreneur looks for a location that maximises his/her chance of success. The Startup Nations Standard has the potential to challenge Member States of the EU to up their game with multiple policy initiatives, such as on access to talent or a digital bureaucracy. Doing so would be a major step to making Europe the startup and scale-up continent.