How does Michael Heyward, the 26-year-old founder of secret-sharing app Whisper, identify employees who have the innate excitement to drive the company forward? He asks them about Ohio.
Specifically, he asks whether they’d want to work for the company if it was based in Ohio, he told Business Insider. Considering that it’s in fact located in a mid-century house on a sunny residential street in Santa Monica, Calif., an Ohio address paints quite a contrast.
But Heyward says ideal candidates must believe that working at Whisper is an essential opportunity, which they’d do pretty much anything to take advantage of. New staff who arrive from out of town often bed down at headquarters until they acclimate and find other lodging.
Heyward has other rigorous standards. After potential employees answer “yes” to Ohio, they should be excited enough to work long days whether they have to or not. “They don’t have to work 17-hour days, but they should want to work 17-hour days,” he said.
Whisper has been building for two years and has raised $25 million. Millions of people use the app, which is approaching 3 billion page views per month.
While excitement about a company is a major factor in drawing new employees, the founder’s charisma counts, too. Heyward is surely toting some of that special sauce. Many employees have moved across the country for Whisper. After hearing Heyward interviewed, one potential British candidate said that while he didn’t have a visa, he’d “move mountains” to obtain one just to be part of the team.
With that kind of appeal, Heyward can afford to be picky. Before being rejected, one out-of-town candidate mentioned that his significant other lived in Los Angeles. Heyward interpreted this as the candidate seeing the company as a convenience, not a necessity.