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3 Things on Building Development Team for Tech Startup

There is no easy way to determine how good their tech talent is especially in programming skills. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack. Many software developers proclaim that they can code, but how good they are in programming? Only after they’ve hired, then we will know how their performance is. If the hired turns out to be a poor programmer, they’ve given us problems like project delay or technical debt that would cost us a sum of money. The actual price of employing a poor software developer cost the business more than $100 million, according to Zappos ‘ Tony Hsieh.

Besides the financial impact, there are also unquantifiable negative effects of bad hires, such as on staff morale and productivity. Yet, bad hires happened far too frequent. According to a study, 95% of companies admit to recruiting the wrong people each year, 66% of employers experienced the negative effects of bad hires, more than half had felt the negative effects of bad hires and 80% of turnover results from bad hiring decisions. There are many reasons for bad hires, but according to a survey that these are the top factors.

Once (if) the company successfully hired the best from the best, there will be another challenge to retain the tech talent from leaving to another company might be because of lucrative salary, attractive benefits or new experience that quite challenging for them. In the highly competitive startup world, a good tech team is very important in order to build a successful business. Here is some advice on how to build a good tech team in the startup:


Interns are a great source of potential employees. If you are lucky and done well, it will benefit your startup with limited finances in order to get the human capital that they need in exchange for minimal cost and training than hiring full-time employees. Well, who doesn’t want cheap labor right? But what if not? There are few disadvantages where interns can cause some problem to the company such as it won’t be as efficient or effective as someone with a few years of experiences, lack of sensitivity in bringing a new idea into the team, potential to be a loyal future employee that unlearn any bad habits from other companies, take training as a full-time commitment, it can turn into overhead and burden when an inexperienced individual do some mistakes and as a temporary hiring solution which is not good for the tech team.

Hiring part-time employees is a different story. In order to cut cost maintaining the full-time employees, part-time employees could save more cost if the startup wanted to develop or enhance the functionalities on their product when it’s needed. The best startup co-founder not just blindly recruit their dream tech team, but rather select the tech candidates based on qualities that are desirable for their team. When your startup gains some revenues, put some effort in investing full-time employees that younger and among the senior people. If you are lucky, you will find one with great talent and a great personality match with the culture fit. Make sure the hired employees committed with the company vision and mission so they can be a loyal employee in the future.

You can try this evaluation recruitment platform system to find great candidates where analyze their technical skills and personality, Soding. Soding provides a free trial up to 80 candidates. Codility is also a good evaluation platform but it’s only focusing on individual evaluation scoring instead of ranking like Hackerank and no personality assessment. But if you have some money, you can try to use Tribehired where the cost is around a hundred USD for each successful referral.

Team structure

There is a common understanding where startup co-founder wears many different hats. If you are 2 or 3 people company, you’ll each have to share many different responsibilities to make things work. As many of these startups grow though, even those with more than 10 people, they’ll continue to operate with the same theme. Establishing a proper team structure that works well, early in a startup might be the difference between a business company that I build successfully and one that dies in the death valley.

Talking about structure tech team, there are a lot of misconceptions whereby front end developers known as UI/UX designers and backend developers who are also the web developers, quality assurance, DevOps and data scientist! These are total madness, unacceptable and doesn’t make any sense when you are applying this kind of dictatorial concept into startup culture whereby one tech person can do a variety scope of works. We called it as a jack of all trades, master of none. Yes, actually there is no issue of knowing all the skills, but make sure each person in a team has their own specialties.

A full-stack developer is a myth because the term is meaningless and non-exist. There is misconception whereby full-stack definition actually referring to fewer layers such as LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) or MEAN (MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS (or Angular), and Node.js), not a single developer that have a broad range of skills or specialize in everything or no other developers required. There are quite a lot of job descriptions mentioning the hiring full-stack engineer among the startups. It doesn’t mean if you hired a full-stack engineer that you can save more cost with limited resources, actually, it brings more problem to the organization because of quality deliverables.

There are no such things that if you have a “full-stack” skills that your startup will be able to find such a quality person. The employability of a true full-stack developer is higher compared to the chances of finding a good full stack developer which is low. The rule of thumb in building a world-class tech team, co-founder should see three groups of people or people which are UI/UX (user interface/user experience), back end and DevOps engineers. It’s very important that you have a UI/UX engineer like front end engineer in your tech team that will define the needs of the users. Unsurprisingly, most startups have a very little understanding of what this tech team does.

Besides that, back end engineer also one of the tech teams playing a core role where the priority is well understood by the community. They are coming up with most of the business logic for the software and expert coding up efficient algorithms and data structure. These are the people that connecting front end with back ends such as user input handling/sanitation, web service API endpoints or database.

However, DevOps engineer can be a lifesaver for the startup because they are playing a critical role in making sure that your products run smoothly, up and running and caught the bugs before it reaches production. Quality assurance also plays the same role as DevOps but it is more towards software quality instead of overall. The DevOps engineers are responsible for establishing the backend infrastructure, the deployment process and they are keeping an eye on the resources of what your tech stack is using. They are making sure the servers are secure and the list goes on. They are also a rare commodity so if you find the good ones, you will do what you have to, in order to hold on to them.


There are a few key elements for building a successful startup culture. It’s not only providing good perks such as free food, flexible vacation time, wellness & commuter stipend to employees of creating a great workplace but imbuing your company with a desirable culture extends far beyond these tangible benefits. Even small companies like startups can make a great culture when time and money are limited to build an opportunity in order to endure the company culture from the ground up to large companies. With being proactive, collaborative and honest, we can make it become a reality.

Do encourage everyone to take action in order to establish and enduring the company. There are huge differences between startups and large companies which is at larger companies the job scopes are generally very structured and limited to one specific focus area because they are rooted in doing what is proven to work. Co-founders should manage and delegate tasks to employees wisely so that they can be more proactive in working fast, innovate something new and iterate equates to inherent more opportunities to learn and grow. The ability to take the risk and think out of the box is a part of building a successful company.

Besides that, we can encourage employees to enforce for a great life and work balance in order to avoid burnout and increase the positive culture of the company. By allowing an employee to have a space to decompress from work makes them healthier, happier, and ultimately more productive. Cultivate a transparent workplace because employees want and deserve transparency such as on salaries, business decisions, company growth, job performances, and so many more since they have spent 35% of their life on the job itself. According to many workplace experts, for the lower price of transparency, you can get in return such as greater buy-in and ownership from the entire team, attract talent from outside of the company while retaining talent within the company and an increase in employee performance and accountability. All of these are the key ingredients for fostering positive company culture.

Ultimately, a great tech team is very important in building a successful startup, especially at the early stage.

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