1KGorilla.com = Finding Tech Talent

(subtitle:  Start-ups’ Biggest Hurdle = Recruiting Tech Talent)

For a start-up, finding good tech talent is tough.  It’s a near universal problem these days, but nowhere is it worse than at MBA programs.  A school of 1000-2000 ambitious, enterprising, idea generating machines without skills to execute on them.

Sitting in positions both as a VC and club president in the start-up space, I get asked the question every day: ‘do you know someone who knows x coding language?’ or ‘ where are tech people hiding?’ or ‘I’m outsourcing my coding to x foreign country, think it’s a good idea?’.

  (NOTE: I did this Prezi along this topic.  High level, but prettier than a blog post)

Just to offer a couple thoughts:

1)   Don’t outsource your core tech to a development house, aboard, anything…  I know it is tempting due to the cost differences, not having to give up equity, etc.  If you don’t have someone with the same motivations as you, the road ahead is going to be very tough.  Sure, outsourcing  non-vital parts can be fine, and outsourcing pieces of the core managed by a local CTO on your team is a doable option.

2)   Prepare for meetings with tech talent by knowing (at least roughly) what you need.  Research or talk to friendly tech savvy people that can help you determine what skills are required.  That being said, be open to their suggestions, even ask how they would solve a particular problem that you already have a decent answer for – see what they come up with.  These meetings show that you are serious and practical about how to make your idea come to fruition.  Wireframes & tangible examples go a long way!

3)   Know your approach.  One of the common failings (esp. of MBAs) is in the way they interact with potential tech talent.  Treat them like second class citizens, they won’t help you (and rightly so).  Even if you perceive they my need you, they may not realize it yet.  And you definitely need them.  Treat them with respect, a future partner, and if they can’t help, maybe they know someone.  See this blog curated by CS undergrads sick of their treatment by Wharton Undergrads and MBAs alike:

  – DON’T be a Whartonite Seeking a Code Monkey!

– Also some great commentary found on friends’ blogs:  start here

4)   Know where to look.  Go to events like: (sorry, regionally & school focused)

  1. Startup Weekend
  2. NY Hack Days / TechCrunch Hack-a-thon
  3. Drexel entrepreneurship sessions
  4. Philly Tech Meetup
  5. Philly Startup Leaders
  6. Technically Philly
  7. PennApps hackathon
  8. Sign up for PennLaunch
  9. Weiss Tech House: Pennovation
  10. (tell me what I am forgetting off the top of my head)

5)   Get your hands dirty!  As much as it is a scarce resource, coding is actually not that hard to pick up.  The basics of most languages are simple.  Elegant and fast coding is much more of an art that you master over time with experience.  Showing that you are willing to help, feel their pain and understand the hurdles they might hit goes a long way.  Start Hacking!

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Posted on June 5, 2011, in Venture & Start-ups. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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