Programmers and software engineers play a pivotal role in the development of tech companies. These five CEOs tell their stories of how they assembled their technical teams.
Every great technology company has a powerful technical team behind it.
There are many parts to this team: web designers, software engineers, and programmers.
They are all needed to ensure that a company and its product runs efficiently. But in this era of the tech industry, assembling a technical team can be challenging, since talent is so difficult to find.
Many programmers and engineers are hesitant to work with early stage startup companies because greater opportunities are all around them.
This poses a problem for many startups today.
I understood the problem quite well, as I have been in a position looking for a technical cofounder in many phases of my life.
I saw a few companies that were able to get up off the ground and pick up some momentum.
I reached out and consulted with the 5 founders of these tech companies over here in California and asked them how they built such a strong technical team.
These are the 5 core pieces you will need to find and build your own technical team:
1. Mentorship is important
Sophia Parsa of Toot came up with the concept of the on-demand tutoring app while studying for finals. When a tutor had to cancel their meeting that same night, she realized that students needed a faster and easier way of accessing knowledgeable educators. This is how Toot was born.
In the beginning, Sophia looked toward contractors as a way of obtaining technical talent, but found it to be insufficient. Subsequently, she turned to her father, who had years of technical industry experience under his belt. He recommended that she contact a talented software engineer named Shaq who was from Iran and currently residing in the United States.
By having this guidance and expertise of a mentor present, it opened the doors to bigger ideas and better opportunities. Shaq held a strong interest in education, since learning opportunities in Iran were so limited. He quickly joined the team and became the startup’s CTO. Sophia and Shaq shared the same goals for toot, thus making it easier to work together.
2. Look at non-traditional outlets
Tracy DiNunzio of Tradesy, a leading fashion resale website, wanted to create a safe, simple way for women to buy and sell clothing that they no longer wore or needed. Tradesy may have begun in Tracy’s living room, but it has now grown to over 120 employees and more than 4 million customers.
Tradesy began with two fresh-out-of-college engineers and a CTO. As the company began to grow, technical talent from Netflix to Amazon began showing up at her front door. Tracy placed an emphasis on mentoring and promoting internally within the company itself. As a result, interns became a part of the engineering team. In addition, Tradesy also hired technical talent out of non-traditional outlets, such as Meetups, Hacker News, and AngelList.
3. Start with a ‘smart doer’
Lee Mayer created Havenly because she thought that people needed help with interior design. Once users sign up for the service, they can upload photos of a living space that needs decorating. Next, users take an online survey to determine their personal style. Users then get to talk to an experienced interior designer to discuss preferences and help Havenly customers achieve their dream living space.
If you don’t immediately have a CTO type in your network, start with a ‘smart doer’. Havenly’s first successful hire was a woman who was knowledgeable in both architecture and development. This woman understood Havenly’s product and gave smart recommendations on where the company should head from a technical perspective. Once you find a potential CTO, make sure that there is a solid foundation of trust before making a hiring commitment.
4. Trust is necessary
Nelli Lhteenmki, in collaboration with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, created you-app, an app that helps people live happier and healthier lives through small daily actions. They call these ‘micro-actions’. It’s based on the idea that every small choice or action that a person makes can lead to positive change within one’s life.
Nelli met Aleksi Hoffman, her future technical co-founder, in their high school’s heavy metal band. At the time, Nelli didn’t know that when Aleksi wasn’t making music, he was taking steps to becoming a talented full-stack engineer. Years later, Nelli and Aleksi reconnected with one another. They discovered that they both wanted to use their skills to build something great. Something that creates health and happiness for the world. Nelli says that a foundation of trust and a value of the company’s mission generates the most success.
5. Hire those who are better than yourself
Tiffany Hakimianpour of Handstand, a startup that brings personal trainers and fitness instructors to you at any time and any place connects those who are wishing to live a healthy lifestyle with inspiring and encouraging personal trainers in their area.
Tiffany took her idea to Science Inc., a large technology studio in Silicon Beach, where she found her current technical team. She wanted to bring on those who were better and more experienced than herself. She also found that communication among a technical team helps with the overall efficiency and productivity of the company.
Have you built a strong technical team? I’d love to find out how you did it. Comment below!