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Hiring is Hard.



5 min read · Nov 27

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As we discussed in our introductory post, local founders said they need help identifying and attracting great talent to their teams, both from within and outside of our market.

  • 25% of founders who responded to our survey specifically mentioned talent as their biggest challenge to growth
  • 62% of founders said an upcoming milestone is to hire more team members
  • 52% of founders are interested in programming to help them hire talent or build a team culture to attract and retain talent
  • 37% of upcoming key hires are software engineering or data positions
  • 27% of upcoming key hires are for senior roles. 10% are for C-level positions¹.


We compared upcoming key hires outlined by founders in our Embarc Collective Community Survey with the open roles listed online by those same survey respondents. Those roles were then grouped by function. From the 28 founders that listed upcoming key hires in the survey, a total of 79 upcoming jobs were reported².

Jobs Listed on Startup Websites vs Jobs Listed in Embarc Collective Community Survey, by job category


There are far more planned upcoming hires (79) than there are active job listings (29). But why? Many of these upcoming hires require having funds in the bank for salaries before the offer can be extended. Embarc Collective’s Recruiting Advisor, Kailah Matyas, noted the sequence of activities when hiring is dependent on funding: “You can’t just say you’ll hire talent, you need to be very specific. It shows investors that you’re planning appropriately. They want to know where their money is being spent.” This means a founder must first develop their hiring plan, then show investors the need for the funds to make these hires, and finally go secure the talent.

Thinking ahead about talent isn’t important just for seeking investment . In a highly competitive national market, finding the right talent for a team takes time. Matyas says founders should start leveraging their networks months in advance to find talent. For specialized hires that require a specific set of skills, she suggests working with a recruiter with experience in that area as well. As she puts it, “even if you’re not ready to make that hire today, you always want to have a pipeline of talent ready.”

However, building that pipeline of talent can be a challenge, especially when looking for technical hires where the talent market is very tight. In fact, the US Chamber of Commerce reports that demand for computer science jobs exceeds supply by 17%³. According to Matyas, that discrepancy is greater in Tampa than in other regions in part because our region historically has had larger, more traditional industries that use different technology stacks from those used by startups in San Francisco, Austin, or New York City. Because of that, Matyas says, “there’s a gap between how companies are building their products and the existing type of skills of technology talent in Tampa Bay.”

That being said, Matyas is a believer in “hiring great athletes” and says that tech hires can get up to speed relatively quickly as long as they have, “proven themselves capable and have the desire to learn something new.” It also helps that skilled talent, and engineers in particular, enjoy sharing what they’ve learned, which Matyas knows can help develop skills across the community.

“One of the things I look for in a senior hire is who is following them.”

There is good news to this story. One employee can be a gateway to an entire team. This type of peer-driven growth is one of the reasons that senior roles are such key hires. “One of the things I look for in a senior hire is who is following them. I’ve often seen companies bring in a CTO or head of sales and he or she then has a team of people that will follow right behind them,” Matyas said.

Part of our mission at Embarc Collective is to attract great talent from outside the region while ensuring that we retain and develop existing talent that is already working or graduating here. While the survey responses we’ve collected and the interviews we’ve conducted have helped us delve into this issue, there’s still a lot we want to know about the startup talent landscape in our region.

We’re collecting data on startup job opportunities, and we’re sharing it with the community.

With that in mind, we’ve been collecting data on job listings for startups in the Tampa Bay area. We’ve started out with 24 companies, and we will be adding more every week. We’re aiming to measure a variety of topics, including which types of jobs are the most difficult to hire for, the rate at which new jobs get added, and the type and frequency of technical skills being sought. We’re sharing what we learn publicly, along with all of the job listings we find. Please include your information and fill out this form so that we can include your startup’s careers page.


  • Hiring talent is a challenge for startup growth in Tampa Bay (and we’re not alone)
  • Funding is a barrier for hiring. Having a thought-out plan for upcoming hires is important to have when seeking investment.
  • The skills gap is a national issue, but might be more pronounced in our region because there’s a gap between how companies are building their products and the existing type of skills of technology talent in Tampa Bay.
  • The right hire can help develop and attract more talent for your team.
  • You can find our ongoing data about startup jobs in Tampa here.

¹Because these were free-response questions, these percentages are likely higher in reality (since a founder may be hiring a VP of Sales but only indicated “sales” in their response).

²or more: some founders planned on hiring multiple employees for the same role

³ There is some debate around the skills gap, however. This MIT Technology Review article suggests that most of these open technical positions get filled relatively quickly.

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