In this series, we’ll be asking local entrepreneurs and other thought leaders in the Rhode Island tech ecosystem a few simple questions about their work and the ideologies and inspirations that drive it. For this week’s post, we spoke with Jared Furtado of Towerhill Associates.
Since 2008, Middletown-based Towerhill Associates has done executive recruiting for early- to late-stage pre-IPO startups, mainly within the tech and cleantech sectors. The company also advises and invests in startups. Most of the company’s clients are based in San Francisco, New York and Massachusetts, but Towerhill also has international clients in areas such as Singapore, India and countries in the European Union.
The company was founded by Josh and Jared Furtado, former executive recruiters in the tech industry. According to Jared, Towerhill is closing out its best quarter since it launched; it’s also growing and currently hiring. Rhode Island Inno caught up with Jared to discuss the company, the job market and some of the work Towerhill is preparing to do in the Ocean State.
Editor’s Note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Rhode Island Inno: Why did you and Josh start Towerhill? And when?
Jared Furtado: Josh and I started Towerhill in March 2008. At that time, we felt there was going to be a shift in the economy and in the technology landscape and wanted the autonomy to be able to work within industries and with companies we are passionate about. We work with the best tech companies in the world and believe that passion drives innovation. The passion for what our clients do drives us to be better recruiters.
RII: How would you assess the climate for high tech, cleantech and life sciences in Rhode Island right now?
Furtado: The majority of our clients are in the Bay Area and we also work with companies in Boston, New York and a few other markets. We’re always excited to do more in Rhode Island; it is our home and it has so much potential, perfectly situated between Boston and New York City.
It would be great to see some of the larger companies based in Rhode Island become pillars, along with the government, to embrace and nurture the tech community. We do as much as we can to help; we have a coworking space and we’re advising seed stage startups from a cybersecurity company here in Newport to a transportation logistics company spun out of Brown University. As a company, we see a lot of opportunity to do more advising and investing and have started the process of setting up an investment fund where a portion of the equity will be allocated to Rhode Island startups. I’ve partnered with leading tech executives from the valley and we’re currently raising our first fund.
RII: How would you describe the job market in these areas? Is it an employee or employer’s market in the sense of are there too many qualified workers or not enough? What is the pay like? What does the future hold for jobs in these sectors?
Furtado: It is without a doubt an employee’s market. Every company is hiring and they are all looking for the same skill set, there is not nearly enough talent to satisfy the number of positions, and we are seeing record breaking salaries and equity packages being given to our candidates. It’s difficult to say what the future holds, because as one who started a recruiting business in 2008; you never know what can happen. It really depends on factors outside of just what the private sector does. If the federal government changes H-1B visas, then I can assure you the most talented engineers in the world won’t be going to school at our universities and some other country is going to see the next Google, Facebook or Amazon.
RII: What qualities do employers value most in these sectors?
Furtado: I work mainly with startups that are either backed by top venture capital firms or are tech unicorns — multi-billion dollar pre-IPO valuations — and the most common term I hear from employers is someone who is “scrappy.” They all want someone who has a lot of grit, takes initiative, can wear many hats, but doesn’t have an ego.
Editor’s Note: Jared Furtado is a 2018 Rhode Island Inno 50 on Fire finalist. Read the whole story on the awards event here.