How To Approach A Developer

A Few Etiquette Lessons for Startups and Entrepreneurs

Travis Miller
Frontiers

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As I’m about to go on StartupBus for the 2nd year in a row, I can’t help but think of all the experiences I’ve had with the startup culture. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunities to really get involve in the tech community since then and it has been an amazing experience.

As much as I love the drive and passion most entrepreneurs naturally have, there are a few things I feel can be improved on and a few things that entrepreneurs planning to work with developers should know. The main thing improvement being how entrepreneurs should approach developers that they feel would be an asset to their team. That being said, I would like to share a few thoughts on recurring experiences that I’ve had.

The Pitch

The conversation usually starts with “Hey Travis, I have a great idea for an app that does XYZ.” Now granted, I like to hear out every idea, even if it doesn’t sound impressive at first; you never know, the conversation and feedback about the idea can potentially reveal a lot more and spark a few more ideas. However, in most cases the great app idea is not a business. It’s just a cool app that might be popular for a period of time.

All ideas need a little refinement. Really think your idea through and develop your pitch to a developer if you want them to buy into what you’re trying to do.

The Ambush

There have been situations where I’ve walked into a room to have a meeting with people so they can “pick my brain”, and little did I know they’ve already made up their mind that I’m on the team. Not cool.

If “Us, We, or Our” are all getting dropped in the initial meeting, that’s definitely a red flag. I know I haven’t agreed to anything yet, so you shouldn’t just assume that I will join your team without me carefully asking questions first. Transparency is key, so be real with developers at all times.

Documentation

Documentation is a high priority for me. It’s not only useful for future reference for design and development, it can also serve as a valuable asset when presenting your ideas and product to future investors or partners.

If you want things done the right way, it has to be documented somehow. If there is no form of documentation to work from to build the idea with, then you’re starting off on the wrong foot with no foundation for your project. Take the time to putting something down on paper; you will solidify your idea and appreciate it.

Team Players (Or Lack There Of)

You might be a founder/co-founder/CEO of your idea, but I have to feel like you will be pulling your own weight for the whole team and not taking advantage of your other teammates. Sitting back and watching your product get built while others do the dirty work doesn’t impress me at all, and if I don’t get that team player vibe I’m turned off immediately. Be about the team.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Sometimes an approach or proposal to a developer can come off as abrasive. I’m mainly talking to other developers or the founders on the team. It may be your job to gauge the skill level of a particular candidate, but this isn’t an opportunity to be an asshole and prove you know everything under the sun. This just makes the whole buying into and understanding what the company /product is all about more difficult for the person you want to work with.

Step back and realize that if you want somebody to compliment or fill a gap that could be useful to the team as a whole, you have to show them some respect.

Wrapping Up

So, there you have a few of my thoughts. I didn’t write this post in any way, shape or form of being a rant, but I think it is important for entrepreneurs and startups and developers to know that (1) developers are people too, (2) be considerate about other people and your team and (3) really think your product through so that your team can have the necessary knowledge to build from it.

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Travis Miller
Frontiers

Web Designer, Developer & Bahamian native obsessed with design, strategy and building stuff with my own two hands. http://www.travismillerweb.com/