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Why Startups Should Invest in Strong Technical Leadership Early

The founding technical team at a startup sets the trajectory for future opportunities.

Gold coins, silver coins and hundred dollar bills.
Photo by David McBee from Pexels

Founders face a difficult challenge. Do you invest money for experienced developers early on? Or do you choose a less expensive, less experienced team? Of course, your profitability plays a big part in this decision.

You Will Pay Either Way

Investing in solid developers early front-loads your costs. The chances of a clean codebase increase. The possibility of long-term technical debt decreases. Your costs will grow linearly over time.

Ratchet Up Expectations

If you choose the cheaper route early, you will slow down later. You will also pay more later. It becomes harder to attract strong talent to a weak culture. It also becomes challenging to introduce strong engineering disciplines where none exists.

It’s easier to loosen your belt after a big dinner than it is to tighten. It’s easier to set the right tone for engineering early.

Follow the Winners

The tech giants we know as FAANG began with a solid technical culture.

The main thing is to make sure your early hires have solid technical chops. The first hires might also be the toughest. But over time, it gets easier. — Jeff Lawson, CEO and Co-founder of Twilio

Twilio also established a robust technical culture early, even though they are smaller than the giants. They invested in engineering, engineering tooling, and operations. Twilio’s investment led to a strong culture, sustainable growth, and a profitable company.

Invest As Early as You Can

The sooner you can bring in “strong technical chops”, the easier it becomes to tune your culture. Providing autonomy to developers frees them to do their best work. Autonomy also minimizes the chances that they leave.

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📋 About Milo

I am a tech executive, writer, speaker, entrepreneur, and inventor. I’ve been developing software since 1995 and developing teams for over a decade. 🚀

I write articles about software, engineering, management, and leadership.

You can also follow me on Twitter. 🐦

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Milo Todorovich

Milo Todorovich

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Top writer in Leadership | Tech Executive | Writer | International Speaker | Entrepreneur | Inventor | Developer of software, engineers, teams, and leaders.