For Tech startups, salary isn’t the only way to attract talent

For Tech entrepreneurs, attracting the right talent early on can pose a challenge. Building out a stellar team of engaged individuals is undeniably critical to gaining market share and growing an organization over the long term. But with research and development investment being a huge priority in the early stages, most Tech startups don’t have the option of offering prospective employees the lucrative salaries that more entrenched competitors can offer.

The good news is that, particularly in the tech industry, dollars aren’t the only currency that’s important to the talent you’re recruiting. Recent studies have shown that today’s IT workforce is looking for more than just salary:

– 75% would sacrifice seniority for their ideal job
– 72% would take lower pay for their ideal job[1]
– 61% of workers would choose more meaningful work over a pay increase[2]

Here’s how you can get creative

What kind of creative compensation options might your prospective employees be looking for? Today, we’re taking a look at 5 popular options to attract talent:

Swap salary for equity
Ownership of an up-and-coming company is an attractive option for new employees. You can choose to offer stock options in compensation packages with built-in controls around the length of employment necessary to withdraw those options. Similarly, profit sharing scenarios could allow employees to take home a set amount of money each quarter.

Embrace company culture
It might seem small, but maintaining a relaxed and enjoyable work environment can be a big pull, especially for Millennial workers. Consider having a more casual dress code, inviting kids and dogs to work, or prioritizing company social events throughout the month as a method of teambuilding.

Flex days, remote work options, flexible work hours, and more generous vacation policies are all attractive perks for young talent. Particularly for employees with children, the option to work from home when a child is sick, or to have shorter work hours that accommodate school pickup time can be a big bonus.

For example, our client GrowthGenius, recently offered several of their employees the opportunity to work remotely abroad for a month in Mexico. Brandon Pizzacalla, COO and Founder and Will Richman, CEO and Founder, of GrowthGenius shared “Bringing most of our team to Mexico for a month of remote work created an incredibly unique experience. When you’re all working together, living in the same area, and discovering a city as a team you create deep bonds with each other that transcend the usual surface-level daily greetings of office life. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows however – we learned a lot and know what we’d do differently when we do it again.”

 Company-specific perks
AirBnB offers employees a $2000 travel stipend[3]. Consider how offering an incentive like that might draw talent who are especially passionate about the industry within which AirBnB operates: travel. Offer employees benefits that are relevant to what you do and you’ll be surprised who might want to join you.

Health, Wellness, and Professional Development
Consider offering an in-office gym facility, or a cash credit to be put towards health and wellness initiatives like gym memberships, fitness classes, or athletic gear. Other options include incentives for attending training conferences, being able to expense personal development books, and supporting ongoing in-house training.

Think about taxation first
Before you officially introduce any of the above creative compensation measures, it’s a good idea to vet them with a trusted business advisor who is well-versed in taxation. For example, offering stock options can affect a company’s reported income, and will therefore need to be thoroughly considered up-front. An effective taxation strategy can help you to leverage government subsidies in order to offer enhanced benefits, while also minimizing the tax impact.

To speak with one of our Tech and startup experts about how your organization could incorporate some of these compensation strategies, reach out to our team today.

[1] Forbes, “How Can You Attract the Best Tech Talent?”, – 1249f4232200

[2] Entrepreneur, “What Employees Really Want (No, it’s not about money)”,

[3] General Assembly, “A Guide to Startup Compensation”,


Q&A with Partner, Jennifer Chasson

Q&A with Partner, Jennifer Chasson

With over 25 years of experience and 100+ successful transactions under her belt, Partner, Jennifer Chasson, brings invaluable expertise to the table. Whether it’s guiding as an advisor, mentor underwriter, ...