219: Tips for Hiring Your First Team Members at a Product Startup

219: Hiring Your First Team Members at a Hardware Startup

March 28, 2024

With Kevin Lavelle, CEO & Co-Founder of Mizzen+Main and Harbor

Hosted by Kevin Mako, President of MAKO Design + Invent

219 Hiring Your First Team Members at a Hardware Startup
219: Hiring Your First Team Members at a Hardware Startup

Kevin Lavelle, the Co-Founder and CEO of Mizzen + Main, a renowned men’s apparel company that has its products distributed in hundreds of outlets and boasts 10 thriving retail stores, has embarked on a new venture: Harbor. Harbor is a pioneering pediatric device startup that recently secured $3.7 million in seed funding. Today, Kevin shares the insight he gained while successfully scaling his product business by imparting modern inventors, startups, and small-scale manufacturers with tips for hiring your very first team members and expounding upon the quintessential attributes to seek in inaugural hires in the hardware startup realm. He delves into discerning characteristics that hold significance, dispelling common misconceptions, and underscores the paramount importance of never sacrificing quality within the consumer product domain.

Here are the key takeaways from the episode:

  • What foremost principles are the most important to prioritize when hiring?
  • Can your potential hire survive in a fast-paced entrepreneurial environment?
  • People from large organizations aren’t typically great fits for early-stage hardware startup businesses. This is because they are not accustomed to the structure and requirements.
  • Can this hire operate without a team and conduct decision-making on their own?
  • Get to know a potential hire beyond just one interview. You can even consider hiring them on a contract basis before you hire them as a full-time employee.
  • Does your potential hire fundamentally understand what they are getting into in joining a hardware startup?
  • Startup new hires need to understand that they may not be monetarily rewarded for the full scope of their capabilities now, so they will get more down the road.
  • Knowledge gained on the job is an intangible benefit of working for a startup that can also outweigh the compensation.
  • Never sacrifice your quality when developing a hardware product!
  • Avoid feature creep in early-stage startups!

Kevin Lavelle Links:

LinkedIn | Mizzen+Main | Harbor

The Product Startup Podcast Links:


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MAKO Design + Invent Links:


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Kevin Mako Links:

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Producer: MAKO Design + Invent is the original firm providing world-class consumer product development services tailored to startups, small manufacturers, and inventors. Simply put, we are the leading one-stop shop for developing your physical product from idea to store shelves, all in a high-quality, cost-effective, and timely manner. We operate as one powerhouse 30-person product design team spread across 4 offices to serve you (Austin, Miami, San Francisco, & Toronto). We have full-stack in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, patent referral, prototyping, and manufacturing services. To assist our startup and inventor clients, in addition to the above, we help with business strategy, product strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories.