Kimone Napier, Founder of Hire Breakthrough, is supporting startups with strategic talent acquisition to help founders find the right employees for their businesses.
Kimone’s interest in talent acquisition stemmed from her parent’s personal experience in the workplace. While on maternity leave, she took the opportunity to officially leave the company she previously worked for and fully pivot to building her business. Now, Kimone helps business owners save time, money, and energy by coaching them on how to effectively hire and train employees. She also teaches founders how to build strong and diverse teams through an intentional hiring approach tailored to finding the best and brightest talent.
We asked Kimone the problem Hire Breakthrough aims to solve, what she sees as the biggest misconception about entrepreneurship, and why she believes support systems are crucial to any entrepreneur’s success.
Q: Tell us the story behind your company’s founding. How and why did you start working on Hire Breakthrough?
A: I was freelance consulting for a few years while working my 9-to-5 job. In 2018, I realized that I wanted to settle down and start my family, but couldn’t see a way to make it happen. I was commuting two hours a day and working until 7 p.m. Not only that, I felt like I couldn’t make the impact I wanted at the company I was working for at the time. All of these reasons gave me the push I needed to work on my company. I found out I was pregnant a month later and used my maternity to double down on my business. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.
Q: What problem does Hire Breakthrough solve?
A: Hire Breakthrough is the intentional answer to the recruitment problems that plague pre-Series A founders in the business world. We don’t hire to fill a seat. Instead we hire with the intention to connect founders with the right talent—talent that paves the way for your Series A. The business was created as a direct answer to self-funded founders and companies being told to hire a “unicorn” to fill short-term needs rather than to hire the right talent for business longevity. Additionally, the recruitment industry has been tainted with the idea to just fill vacant seats rather than focusing on the needs of both the candidate and the founder to create a long-term solution. Hire Breakthrough pushes against this status quo. Our intentional approach shines a light on outdated and disproportionate recruitment tactics including radio silence, interview bias, discrimination, and a lack of inclusivity. We focus on impact, not false urgency, which sets us apart.
Q: In what ways has your upbringing or past experiences contributed to how you operate as an entrepreneur?
A: My upbringing had a large influence on my desire to be an entrepreneur. My parents are entrepreneurs themselves. They always emphasized the importance of owning a business and having something that belongs to you. When they emigrated to the U.S., they were shocked by employees’ treatment in the workplace. Their experiences really pushed me to make a change in that area.
Q: What’s the biggest misconception that others have around entrepreneurship?
A: Most people think that entrepreneurship means you have all this time on your hands or you’re sitting at home doing nothing all day. Entrepreneurship is one of the hardest things you’ll ever experience. As the founder, you have to answer everything, especially in the very beginning. Yes, entrepreneurship allows for some more flexibility and freedom. But that can only occur if you have boundaries and a support system. It’s a different level of responsibility compared to a traditional job.
Q: Have you felt like giving up? What made you persist?
A: Many times. Entrepreneurship is a never-ending battle. You have to deal with obstacles constantly, even if you don’t feel like it. Managing the ups and downs with your life outside of business can be just as challenging. In the hard times, I always think of all the benefits my business has provided me. The biggest one is the impact that I can create for the people I serve with my unique gift. Creating a legacy for myself and my family, especially as a Black woman, is an additional benefit that pushes me to never give up.
Q: What have you learned about building a team and a support network around yourself?
A: Building a team and community of support is the best thing you can ever do in your business. When you start your business, you’re wearing all the hats: marketing, HR, sales, and all the rest. The key is understanding strengths and getting support for your weak areas. Doing so will help you accelerate and hit your goals quicker with ease. Having a community of support is an additional bonus, especially as business can be lonely. Your support system will empower you when things get tough.
Q: What would you tell your younger self if you were to start your entrepreneurial journey all over again?
A: I would tell myself to do it sooner. I always wanted to be a founder and start my own business but fear and comfort stopped me. I had a stable job and steady income, and the thought of disrupting that made me pause. Since I started my business, it opened up a world of new opportunities, connections, and fulfillment. I’m working on my purpose every day, which is a gift for many. Go for it.
Q: What’s next for you and Hire Breakthrough?
A: We’re focused on speaking and teaching more founders about the power of team and building a bridge to connect diverse, flexible, and inclusive businesses to diverse talent. We are excited to launch our incubator program designed to help more founders attract and hire diverse talent for the long term.
Kimone is a member of Dreamers & Doers, a private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary women through thought leadership opportunities, authentic connection, and access. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and subscribe to their monthly The Digest for top entrepreneurial and career resources.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.