At Point Nine we invest early in tech startups and we try to be as supportive as we can to their founders.
Business founders (CEOs and alike) get a lot of attention from us, we try to always be available to them: we do weekly/monthly/quarterly calls where we try to provide guidance for their challenges and to share best practices with them, we have online communities where our founders can get feedback from each other, we do offline events (aka SaaS meetup and Marketplace meetup), etc.
But within the founders we support, there’s one kind of superhero that chronically gets less attention from us: founder CTOs and VPs of Engineering (sorry!). While software is eating the world, increasing competition means that speed of iteration is key to becoming a successful business. Tech founders have a critical responsibility there: they drive product development; therefore, their speed of development is what makes them winners.
On the technology side, if you’re not very deep into the challenges of a founder CTO, you might wrongly think that they can find all the answers they need online: stackoverflow, quora, the documentation of the services they use, blogs, etc. are all great self-service tools to build your technology. But when you’re trying to create something new, something that didn’t exist before, you will often be facing problems that nobody else — or a very select group of people, that you might not have access to — has faced before.
On top of that, the technology is only one element of building a great product. To build a great product you need great people: front-end and back-end developers, devops, product managers, QA, designers, etc. A founder CTO needs to be able to recruit great people, give them the tools and ownership to perform well, build an engineering culture that will allow the teams scale, etc.
At Point Nine, very often we are investing in first time entrepreneurs, and that also includes first time CTOs, so a lot of those challenges will be new for them.
With the goal of trying to pay back that debt to tech founders, a year ago we started our .9 tech circle online community. There, almost 100 amazing tech leads within our portfolio can get support from their peers. Today, that community is very active, but still we thought we could improve it.
With a lot of humility (because we didn’t know if it would work!) and passion about the challenge, we started planning a .9 tech circle meetup. There were two main goals for that event: a) to put our tech leads in touch with each other, b) to allow them to share best practices both in the forefront of the technology and the challenges related to managing teams.
During a day of talks and panels, we covered lessons learned around scaling technology, teams and processes. On the team management side, topics included building high performing teams through hiring and retention and best practices on scaling those teams. Of course technology had a large place in the event and there were discussions around the latest developments in mobile and containers.
I would also like to take the chance to thank Google for hosting us, the speakers and the attendees — who were very active participants! — without all of you, that event would not work ;-)