Shopping For Nerds (Minnebar 2013)


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Presentation given at Minnebar 2013, discussing strategies for finding the tech talent you need to bring your startup to market.

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  • Why is this important? There are too many ways to fail, even after you are a so-called “ veteran ”
  • $100k for a 100 page PDF. If you ’ re doing the math about the per-page cost, keep in mind that every 10 pages was a full-page advertisement for the consulting firm. Nearly a full year spent building their awesome app. The tech co-founder kept telling the biz-cofounder that it was going to be awesome, but the biz guy never asked to actually see the software work. I ’ ve heard this one several times, twice recently: Multiple years building a successful tech startup. Funded. Awesome advisors. Thousands of users. One of the co-founders leaves under bad conditions, and “ hold the company hostage ” because they held the account passwords to key operational resources.
  • What is Tao? Laozi explains that Tao is not a 'name' for a 'thing' but the underlying natural order of the universe whose ultimate essence is difficult to circumscribe. So, let ’s start at the beginning...
  • Awesomeness.
  • obligatory apple slide I think this is *partially* true. The problem is with the definition of a “ tech startup ”
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? - website - e-commerce - tech company What is a “ tech ” company??? It ’ s when the secret sauce is in the tech. Not the market niche, not the distribution model, not the business model. Innovation, information, security...can ’ t just buy it
  • There are several things that drive the decision. Incentive is the motivations for the tech person to operate in the best interests of the company. Complexity can be thought of as the “ size ” or “ difficulty ” Criticality is how critical the technology is to the business Cash is what you can spend Skill is what you can accomplish. Are you skilled enough to evaluate results? What is the risk of getting it wrong?
  • Outsource: NO incentive, doesn ’ t handle complexity, doesn ’ t care, can be cheap, needs skill Freelance: Hopefully some incentive (relationships). Can handle complexity. EXPENSIVE. Risk of a flake. Firm: MOST EXPENSIVE. Handles the whole thing, but how well? Not on your team. Employee: Get lucky? May not have the incentive. Co-Founder: When it NEEDS to be right. Marriage is power. But huge risk...equity, personality, etc. DIY: Can you do it yourself? Can you at least know enough to overcome some risk in other options? I can use outsource because I can ensure quality.
  • If you only take ONE thing away from this talk, there is only one question that really matters: Who do you want standing guard?
  • RISK!!! If you understand business, you understand risk. So why would working with your tech team be any different?
  • Communication is really important Access to all resources. Shared KeePass files, accounts, etc. See progress OFTEN. Every day? At least every two weeks. Accountability - GOES BOTH WAYS. Pay on time. Be generous. Be transparent. Don ’ t be a dick. What if you ’ re the problem? Co-founders, or any relationship Learn Nerdish. Take a programming course. Can ’ t stress communication enough! Ask (dumb) questions
  • Lawyers At the end, you HAVE to trust someone. You can ’ t prevent everything. It ’ s a lot like marriage with kids. Your best bet is still to ensure the success of the relationship AND the company. But your second best bet is to ensure you work with people who will help ensure the success of the company even if the relationship does not survive.
  • Interviews NIHS - Not Invented Here Syndrome - if I didn't build it, it sucks SHS - Shiny Hammer Syndrome - novelty trumps business need OSS - Over-Specialization Syndrome - existing skills/biases trump business need NMJS - Not My Job Syndrome - specialization doesn't work in a start up. support, ops, etc. OBS - Over Build Syndrome - build for scale too early JITS - Just In Time Syndrome - inability to contemplate or anticipate need for scale BBS - Business Blindness Syndrome - a tech guy needs to speak business enough to anticipate needs IKIAS - I Know It All Syndrome - Unwillingness to be swayed or adapt, unwillingness to be transparent or communicate.
  • Shopping For Nerds (Minnebar 2013)

    1. 1. Shopping for NerdsThe Tao of Co-Founders, Contractors, and Outsourcing @NealTovsen
    2. 2. Neal Tovsen @NealTovsen @apruve
    3. 3. @NealTovsen
    4. 4. @NealTovsen
    5. 5. @NealTovsen
    6. 6. Hey, I have this awesome idea! @NealTovsen
    7. 7. ( what...?) Outsource Freelance Firm Employee Co-Founder DIY @NealTovsen
    8. 8. “A startup is an organization formed to search for arepeatable and scalable business model” - Steve Blank “Anything is possible with the proper application of time, heat, money, or chemicals” - Unknown Smart Person @NealTovsen
    9. 9. @paulprins: All non-technical peoplerunning a tech #startup is like movingto Mexico with no-one speaking anyspanish. #BadIdea @NealTovsen
    10. 10. @NealTovsen
    11. 11. Incentive.Complexity.Criticality.Cash.Skill. @NealTovsen
    12. 12. Outsource Incentive. Freelance Complexity. Firm Employee vs. Criticality. Cash.Co-Founder Skill. DIY @NealTovsen
    13. 13. Who is standing guard? @NealTovsen
    14. 14. @NealTovsen
    15. 15. CommunicationAccessFrequent DemosAccountabilityDon’t Be A D!@%Educate YourselfCommunication @NealTovsen
    16. 16. @NealTovsen
    17. 17. (Bonus Slide) NIHS NMJS OSS SHSNerd Psychological Disorders JITS BBS OBS IKIAS @NealTovsen
    18. 18. @NealTovsen