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Startups: Are you building the right team?

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Published:May 23, 2019
Last Modified:July 20, 2022

When you are building a startup, there are always constraints and tradeoffs.

Most companies are bootstrapped or have limited funding, which means that they need to be budget conscious. Others have to meet deadlines set by investors, competitors, or customers. These external forces are stressful. At the same time, stress is also great mechanism for creating focus.

For startups, the focus in the early days has to be building the right team.

Many startup founders believe their job is to build a product. While this is somewhat accurate, it misses the broader point. You are not building a product in a vacuum. Instead, you should focus on building a team that aligns with your vision and can ship successful products.

Moreover, founders often believe that they must build their entire team in-house in order for their products to be successful. This concept puts extra strain on a bootstrapped company already trying to achieve great things with a small team.

Not only does the team have to validate their concept, build a great product, and scale their users but they also have to create and manage a software development firm in the process.

Here are some mistakes that we have seen when building a software organization:

  • Hiring great individual contributors who cannot work well together
  • Building a team solely with entry-level developers to save on cost
  • Prioritizing feature development at the expense of code quality, docs, tests, etc.
  • Valuing resumes/pedigree over functional skills
  • Trying to boil the ocean and build everything in-house

Today, 1 out of 100,000 tech startups should buy servers and rack their own hardware. The vast majority (99,999 out of 100,000) are much better served by AWS or Google Cloud Platform.

We bring this point up because the same founders who clearly see the value in using AWS, for instance, still insist on building everything themselves – which means learning the hard way about where the bugs and corner cases are!

Our suggestion is deceptively simple: Focus on your core competency, own your sales and marketing channels, and leverage experts for everything else. While nearly every startup requires building great software, not every startup needs to be a software startup.

Your startup cannot be experts on the industry you are disrupting, frontend development, backend development, branding, marketing, channel partnerships, DevOps, and on and on. At least, not at the beginning. In fact, we have seen established startups with 50+ employees struggle to build and maintain a smooth-running software team.

As startup founders and early employees, you decide what is within your circle of competency and what should be better handled by a contractor or consultant! These are difficult decisions to make, but it’s very important to focus and only invest where you have clear differentiation.

You would not hire a graphic designer for $80,000 a year simply because you need one logo designed! The same is true here. If your core competency is not building software, find a great technology partner that enables you to focus on what you do well.

Looking to find the right technology partner? Contact Tragic Media today for a free consultation. We architect, launch, and support software for industry-leading brands.


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