8 steps to building an A+ engineering team

Posted on April 16, 2012. Filed under: Hyperpublic, startups, venture capital | Tags: , |

One of my favorite new founders in the Lerer Ventures family just sent me a note asking for tips as he starts to build out his engineering team. As I’m sitting in an airport w time on my hands, I went long form. Thought I’d open source an early playbook. This advice is most applicable to recently funded seed stage founders:

1) only hire 9s and 10s. Dont just fill the seat, keep bar really high

2) make fast decisions. When you find a guy you like culturally, put him through half day interview process, test both technical aptitude and ambitions/ability to give everything they have to your co

3) if they pass both, offer next day, overpay on cash by 10k what you were going to offer, overpay on equity by 50% of what you were going to offer

4) give them no more than 3 days before offer expires and be ready to move on to new candidates if they don’t commit. Worst thing you can do is convince someone who doesn’t really want it to join.

5) with every hire ask yourself “is this someone who I can recruit against? Will every candidate going forward WANT to work with them? Do they demonstrate that we are a culture of excellence?”

6) create a culture of recruiting within your engineering team. Make sure everyone knows that “we are always recruiting A level engineers, independent of need, roadmap, or operational context.”

7) invest in teaching your entire engineering team how to be effective recruiters. It is a huge part of everyone’s job, not just founders…

8) contribute to the Enginnering community. Give talks, free advice, help neubs build their first rails app, open up your office to anyone that wants to come hack on whatever they are working on. The community is not some stocked pond that you can go fishing in when you need something built. Give to it before you try to take from it. Instill this ethos in your company’s culture.

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4 Responses to “8 steps to building an A+ engineering team”

RSS Feed for Jordan Cooper's Blog: startups, venture capital, etc… Comments RSS Feed

1. You need to have a strong engineering leader in the team. Do whatever it takes to get that guy (or girl).
2. Don’t be bogged down by the lack of experience. Good hackers learn quickly. Be willing to invest in smart people by hiring them and providing the right resources for them to learn.

For sure. Good additions

Great insights.

As an engineer/manager, one thing I would add is that you need to keep evaluating the people you have. Sometimes, it’s better to admit that you made a mistake in hiring the wrong person than to keep trying to make things work.

True for everyone on team, not just engineers

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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