"As a Startup Founder, I am looking to hire the first 5 engineers for my startup.
I've never done it before, and I don't have a tech background.
I was asked recently. And yes, I do have several tips to avoid disaster and a wasted runway.
3 Rules of Thumb to Non-Technical Startup Founders When Hiring
- Always have a technical stakeholder at the leadership level
- Don't hire for the sake of hiring
- Before growing from 0-5, consider growing from 0-2
Hiring Tips for Non-Technical Startup Founders
For context, this founder raised a nice Seed funding round recently out of a well crafted business model, some early traction, and a clunky no-code MVP.
He's ripe to build the next stage of his business and has the funds to do it.
He's "only" lacking the strategy, though.
Having gone through this early growth stage multiple times as a Startup Founder and as a CTO, I'm usually conservative in hiring plans and prefer starting with a clear plan before the execution.
This is my advice to non-technical Startup Founders in 3 simple rules of thumb:
1. Always Have a Technical Stakeholder at Leadership Level
If neither of you (+your co-founders) aren't technical, please make sure you have a senior tech leader to help you. Either a full time CTO or a Fractional CTO or a Tech Advisor.
This will avoid costly mistakes.
2. Don’t Hire for the Sake of Hiring
Hire the right people to implement clearly defined projects, as needed for those projects.
Again, if you don't have such definition, please get someone to help you define it before you hire "operators", as explained in point 1.
3. Before Growing From 0-5, Consider Growing From 0-2
The most common combo is a couple of senior backend/frontend engineers who can get the ball rolling.
Then grow from there as needed. You'll be surprised how much faster impact you can get with this iterative approach.
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