Ben Horowitz talks about the difference between a peace time ‘head of sales’ vs a war time ‘head of sales’. How these two need to be different people and that just any great ‘Sales’ guy does not fit into both these roles, since the needs of these 2 different roles re vastly different.
I completely buy his point given my experience with techies- the good, the bad and the ones who made a turn for the better. Since tech talent is so rare (And frankly overhyped for early stage startups ) a lot of non-tech founders end up hiring friends or anyone who is good at tech and willing to join them. This, potentially, is a huge mistake.
Good engineers are not good tech founders. A less experienced tech founder but one who really wants to make a business is a much better fit than someone who knows a lot of tech but is hung up on his awesomeness/ wants to build a great tech product on day1/ thinks he is god’s gift to the world. Some ways to spot the difference between the two kinds of techies (A & B)
- A thinks about what the user will see (eg: front end & how to get the message across- (test user reaction, get MVP out and validate)) B worries about the future and scalability and back end issues. Taking a back-end first & back-end heavy approach points to B(unless it is by design an enterprise product/ SaaS where robust tech and back-end and 100% uptime are your priorities)
- A worries about building business. B worries about building products
- A is a team player. B is throwing his weight around
- A wants to be a team man B is obsessed with himself and wants to fly solo
- A appreciates what others are doing B thinks he is god’s gift to the world
- A wants to hack B wants a nobel prize for his code
- A great startup tech founder is very different from a great tech lead/ engineer
- When you are recruiting a tech founder, make sure you keep this in mind