Office Hours: I'm the co-founder and CTO of Dover, a Tiger Global, Founders Fund, and YC backed recruiting company.Featured

Hi everyone! I’m Anvisha Pai, co-founder and CTO of Dover. We’re building an end-to-end recruiting platform that helps companies build a world-class recruiting experience.

We just raised a $20M Series A from Tiger Global Management alongside Founders Fund & Y Combinator.

I started my career as a Product Manager at Dropbox and then became the first engineer at a startup. In the early days at Dover, I did everything from building to the app to sales and customer success. Now, I lead our engineering and product org and I’m quickly learning how to be a leader as we scale! We grew from 5 to 30 people in about a year.

I grew up in Mumbai, India and immigrated to the US to go to MIT. I started out wanting to be a chemical engineer but then fell in love with building things in hackathons and ended up switching to computer science.

As you can see, I’m big into flexibility and wearing many hats :)

Ask me anything about technical leadership, transitioning from big companies to startups, finding product-market fit, and of course, hiring!

Thanks so much for joining us @anvisha!Elphas – please ask @anvisha your questions before Friday, July 30th. @anvisha may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites πŸ”₯πŸ‘πŸΎβž•
Congrats again on the recent round, @anvisha - so exciting!! I have a few questions for you:1. As your company has grown and you've taken on more of a leadership role, what aspects of leadership have you found to be the most challenging? What have you done to address them? 2. What motivated you to go from being a Product Manager at Dropbox to becoming the first engineer at a startup? What were your biggest learnings in each role? 3. What trends are you seeing in the hiring landscape at the moment? How is the Dover team planning to capitalize on these trends?
Appreciate it @RiyaJ and great questions! :)1. Building a "team operating system" is super important, and requires a ton of energy and thought. I think in a startup especially, prioritizing and making time and space for building out your team values, documenting and iterating on processes, and building institutional knowledge is critical.2. I wanted to start my own company someday, and I felt like I was missing key pieces of knowledge on building something from scratch.3. We're definitely seeing that people are willing to leave companies that don't align with their values or that aren't providing the flexibility and trust they need. That, coupled with a lot of big fundraises and a large emphasis on prioritizing DEI efforts means that companies are paying more attention to their recruiting processes and candidate experience than ever.
@anvisha congrats on the recent round!! I have two questions: 1. So many startups I talk to these days, no matter what stage they are, find recruiting to be their biggest challenge. What are the biggest revelations/discoveries you've found about startup recruiting & hiring in building Dover's product? 2. What has it been like for Dover to scale so quickly? How do you ensure that you maintain the same quality, team culture, and building/iteration speed even as the team grows?
Thanks @catyeo!! 1. One big discovery is that what people think they need in a candidate is usually far from what they actually need! Great recruiters and hiring managers always start out with flexible criteria and cast a wide net before honing in on what they're really looking for.2. One very helpful exercise we did was commit to articulating our values as a team, especially as we started to grow and hire quickly. I would suggest that early startup employees commit to doing this earlier than you think you should with the understanding that nothing is sacred β€” you likely will revisit this as your priorities change and you bring more people along down the line.Davin, an engineer on our team wrote more about that here, in case you're curious:
@anvisha thx for doing OH! My question is, does it make sense for an experienced Entreprnr to speak to a Tiger type or other PE (given all the capital in the markets) to buy a few tiny companies with sub domain expertise (esp for the talent) to get to market quicker with traction; even when I'm now pre-revenue, to get where we want to go more quickly? Most VC's will tell you the same thing: launch & test an MVP, get some traction, scale a bit, get a SAFE or CN, expand and then start acquiring. But here in Houston I saw a friend (another experienced Entrprnr) raise $175M and do 9 acquisitions within 7 months of starting. Thx for any thoughts!
I'm not an authority on this because Dover actually did Y Combinator and only raised a seed round when we had some revenue/traction, and we only raised our Series A after reaching some big revenue milestones. I agree with you that you don't need to have revenue though to raise a seed or pre-seed round.It does seem Tiger and other growth/PE funds are moving into earlier stage investments, though I personally haven't seen them come in at such early stages that often.
Hi @anvisha, great to see you and @jenkliu here! I've certainly heard of people taking the SWE (software engineer) to PM (product manager) route, and am surprised you went from PM to SWE. Was that something you were seeking to do, or was that moreso something you were recruited for? If the former, how did you set yourself up for that transition?I'm in a slightly similar situation -- did my undergrad in Chemical Engineering, then did 3 years of management and tech consulting. While it's common for many ex-consultants to become PMs, I transitioned into software engineering by doing a coding bootcamp!
Thanks for the question @trishapan πŸ™‚.Before my senior year, I did a Software Engineering internship at Google. Unfortunately, during that time, I didn't get to make any product decisions or really have any context on what I was working on or why. That was the initial draw for me towards Product Management.I later realized that what I experienced was more of a "big company engineer" problem. At a startup, particularly in the early stages, engineers actually *have* to do product iteration to find product-market fit and need to flex product skills.The transition was easier than I thought it would be, mostly because I had an amazing mentor in the CTO of the company I joined (he continues to be a mentor to me today, thanks Ben!)In making similar transitions, I would say the biggest thing is making sure that the team you're joining has someone you want to learn from who will equally invest in you.
@anvisha what do you think was the most crucial decision point for your investors to make this investment?
Going into our Series A fundraise, we had strong organic growth (our revenue 7x'd within a year) and in addition have been break-even/cashflow positive for the entire journey!In addition, we also have a huge TAM and a great team β€” which is always exciting to investors.
thank you!
Anvisha, you are such an inspiration!I’m curious: knowing what you do now, what’s one piece of advice you would give your past self (or any other founder) who’s pre-product market fit?
Thanks for the kind words @jenkliu!When starting Dover we really lived the dogma of "Do things that don't scale". One example is that we became recruiters for our friends' companies and did everything from cold outreach to phone screens β€” we weren't fixated on building too much software at that time, just deeply understanding the problem.I'd give the same advice to any pre-PMF founder β€” dive deep into a problem, and don't worry about scaling or the elegance of the solution just yet.Another piece of advice I'd give to my past self is that the people I work with will likely always be my **biggest** source of motivation so keeping them front and center and not wanting to let them down makes the rough times much easier to work through.
Hi Anvisha! Thanks for sharing your experiences. Curious what part of the org you’ve found most challenging to build and why?
Great question β€” if I had to pick one, the hardest thing was stepping away from managing individual customers to scaling up a customer success function. In that process, there were so many awesome learnings! We had to improve the product, create playbooks and build up our customer success philosophy.This is a common experience for many small teams - where you go from knowing exactly who your customers are and what they're looking for, to expanding your product offering very quickly, and needing to create a process of continuous learning and ownership across the company. That's informed our hiring process a ton β€” we ask, can this person think of ways to make this process 5x better? Is this person curious enough to ask questions about why things work the way we do and offer up new ways of thinking?
Hi @Anvisha! I am Neelam. Congrats on Dover, such a great idea and product. What been the most challenging aspect of building a startup?
So usually, most founders will say "hiring" but since we use our own product this isn't the hardest thing for us :DI think of the two phases of a startup as1. Finding product-market fit2. ScalingFinding PMF is challenging because everything is uncertain, and you just don't know if your product will work. Along with a ton of iteration and going back to the drawing board, it kinda just comes down to grit and luck sometimes.Scaling is tricky because it feels like you're building a plane when it's already in the air β€” things are going fast, and you don't have the time to necessarily make sure it's going right. But, the nice thing is that you can rely on advisors, investors, and mentors to provide advice and best practices because scaling is pretty similar across companies. And, of course, you're working with a team that's passionate about solving the problem with you as well.
Love this! Thank you for sharing :) Wishing Dover, lots of success!
Hi Anvisha,Thank you for sharing your journey. Coming from the background of computer science, how did you transition into product management? I know there are several transferable skills so curious to know your journey. I’m currently an engineering lead looking to transition into Product Management. Would love to hear your input and hear about the hiring opportunities at Dover.
One of the ways to get into PM is via a new grad/APM program which is what I did. There was no expectation that I'd come in with a PM skillset which made it easier.It's tricky to transition into a PM role because there are just fewer opportunities available. But, as someone with strong engineering chops, and as a team lead you're well-poised to do this!One piece of advice I'd give is to strengthen your application by focusing on companies where you have some domain expertise. For engineers, this commonly means developer tools or technical products. Alternatively, if you've worked at a company in a specific area, it might make sense to seek out other companies in that market because of your network, understanding of the problem area and technical expertise.I'm always happy to chat about this β€” feel free to ping me :)
Hi @Avisha! Thanks for taking time and excited to see you here. I'm a fellow MIT alum working on my B2B software company for finance teams (Sudozi). In your journey with Dover so far, did you always know you were going to be focused on recruiting orchestration or were there other recruiting/HR related features you thought about tackling? Curious to hear your journey in finding product market fit!
Hey @rosepunk! Nice to meet a fellow MIT alum here :). And super exciting to see the work you're doing with Sudozi.My journey to recruiting came, in large part, from my personal experiences. When I worked at Dropbox, we had the support of a world-class recruiting team, it felt like people just showed up and we interviewed and hired them πŸ™‚ Then, when I worked at an early stage startup, the experience was completely different. Despite being an engineer, I spent a lot of time recruiting (along with the founders) with very mixed results. Most of the time we spent was on managing Airtable/Google Sheets, sending out emails, clicking around on LinkedIn, etc. It felt like an obvious gap and something that I started wondering about.When my cofounders and I started exploring ideas to work on, recruiting was the obvious focus point we were passionate about. We started out actually doing the recruiting work β€” for example, I helped 2 of my friends' companies with hiring β€” did 20 phone calls a day, and ran their entire process. This helped my cofounders and I identify that what we were most passionate about was the candidate experience and gave us the conviction that this was a problem worth tackling.Once we had the momentum going, it was surprisingly easy to get early customers on board. This speaks to the potential of the problem space we were tackling and gave me more confidence that there was something big here. That being said, in some other areas and industries, it does take a while to get initial traction eg when you're building a dev tool or a collaboration tool. So I would definitely take your time with exploring and finding product-market fit. But, I do think it's hard to do without committing to something and solving the problem with real customers.
Amazing. Thanks for the thorough response!