This is primarily for my future self. These are observations based on my own experience of 2 years at Verloop.io and helping a few companies hire for similar roles.
Do Seniormost hire first: Start by hiring the senior most person you’re going to hire. E.g. start by hiring the ML Lead (assuming you already have a CTO) Have a means to tell that your investment in data science is working out or not Closest to User first: Hire the person who will consume the data to build for the user first Sourcing: Begin sourcing early and over-emphasise two channels: Referrals and Portfolios Typically, in India - expect: ~2 months to close a full time role at early career (0-3 years) and ~3 months to close a mid career (3-7 years) and 6+ months to close a senior hire If a developer has open source code contributions in the last 2-3 years, consider waving off the coding or algorithmic challenge to speed up the interview process Pay above market cash salaries In 12-18 months from now, when your ML Engineer will have internalised all the requirements, company culture and built a bunch of important tooling - she would get an offer which is 2-3x of today.