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[Ask HSI] As a Developer What will Convince You to Join a Startup?
11 points by vijayanands 686 days ago | 16 comments
We see a lot of entrepreneurs who complain that developers don't get them. But they do need good developers. Developers just might have other priorities other than challenging environment, equity and being associated with a startup that is not always understood. Here's an attempt to bridge the expectations of both sides of the table.

If you have a quora account, do join the conversation there : http://www.quora.com/The-Startup-Centre/If-you-are-a-Developer-what-is-the-Pitch-you-wish-to-hear-an-Entrepreneur-make-to-get-you-onboard-on-the-Startup-Team

If not, no worries, leave your comment, will cross link this thread to Quora.



6 points by tutysara 685 days ago | link

Here are things I will look 1. Work on problems that I care or interesting to me. 2. Work with other smart guys 3. Compensation to sustain my current quality of life

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3 points by subhro 685 days ago | link

I can't provide a direct answer, but here is a quick reality check I do:

Question: What hardware would you provide me?

If the answer is anything other that "Whatever YOU feel right.", I never bother to look back.

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2 points by amar 684 days ago | link

>>"Whatever YOU feel right."

What about "Whatever we agree upon". I actually believe that developers can have real extended machine requirement fantasies :-)

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2 points by subhro 684 days ago | link

Most of the times I have got "this" precise answer. I interpret it as:

1. If you are negotiating on something of which you are not a direct user/expert, then I seriously believe my time is well spent elsewhere. I do not have enough bandwidth to deal with diplomatic soups.

2. If you were an expert then you would not have hired me. No one likes to part with money.

3. You opened a startup to earn money so that you can get the luxuries that you might not have had if you worked for a big MNC. The reason is same for me. Just that, I don't believe in long term goals unless you fulfill short term goals for me.

4. If you want me to look at it more like "This is MY startup as well", then you better give me enough equity so that I am a deciding factor and 1000 shares is a joke, a very bad one.

5. It might look like you are hiring me for the stuff that I do. But the reality is, I am also hiring you because I think you are better than others. If that clause changes, then I will fire you before you do.

I am sorry if it sounded like I am an arrogant arse. It's just that I have worked with too many bad CEOs to no longer "love" a startup.

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1 point by amar 684 days ago | link

>> 1.

Yes, I can agree on this one if the person is a HR (or someone) with no gadget knowledge above "the latest iPhone is the best phone and why anyone would even want to try anything otherthan MS Office". But I shall not, if that negotiator someone who knows this shit and is trying to minimize the cost while negotiating for what can be used and what not. Best say 'what's feasible/affordable'. We (the entire team) were recently deprived of a code-browser we were used too. Everyone protested. Now we realise we are doing better (mostly) with VIM+Cscope+Ctags than the obscenely priced s/w we used earlier.

>> 2.

I have had a very short stint in a startup (if I count my internship out) but I know a startup is not just about sitting down on a good quality bean bag with the latest laptop (best h/w+s/w one could ever fantasize) and code all day and there are thousands lining at your doorstep to buy your company or use your product.

>> 3.

Hmm. If you count "being rigid (no pun) upon what exactly shall be your tools of trade and you count that as a part of CTC and also marked off your offer letter, then it's personal choice and you are right - you should get what you want, provided the other guy agrees.

>> 4.

Yes. That 1000 shares is sure a joke. One of the reasons I had left. But then again cost matters, for most probably you won't be the only one working there, neither the most preferred one (or maybe you are; depends).

No, I do not think you are arrogant, besides I am a firm believer in eclecticism and individual taste :-)

I just wanted your opinion on my reservations and I am glad we had a dialogue. I, too, am short of allergic to an idea of working in a startup, so I do not even field calls from startups any more after two heartbreaks; even though I am overworked and underpaid (the last bit is my humble assumption :P ).

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2 points by subhro 684 days ago | link

Let's take this conversation like you are trying to hire me for your startup :-)

> But I shall not, if that negotiator someone who knows this shit and is trying to minimize the cost while negotiating for what can be used and what not.

Let's get this straight. If I would have worked for a big MNC like Yahoo or Juniper (and indeed I have worked for them), I would get lot of "Extra" stuff. For example, I do not have to drive around as I get cabs to go to office, my memberships for Safari Books Online as well as Gym membership gets paid automatically, I get discounts from stores like Apple, Amazon and sometimes Barnes and Noble, I have a book purchase allowance for which I do not have to negotiate.

If I am working for you, then I am anyway giving up on cost to the company. If you further try to minimize things, then I just call that cheapballing. And I hate being cheap balled.

> Best say 'what's feasible/affordable'

Unless you are making something which will generate a new market, you are essentially trying to reinvent the wheel or some parts of it. If you think your product will outrank existing ones, then your product has to compete with an existing one. So by definition, your product has to be of better quality. Unless you give me tools that are better or at least comparable to the ones used in making the existing product, don't expect the new product to outrank the old one.

> Now we realise we are doing better (mostly) with VIM+Cscope+Ctags than the obscenely priced s/w we used earlier.

I am least interested in getting into a FOSS or non FOSS discussion, but having used various commercial alternatives to your "code browser" problem, I believe VIM+CScope+Ctags is a hacked together system. Granted the underlying engine is superior in most cases for FOSS, they generally lack good UI.

> I have had a very short stint in a startup (if I count my internship out) but I know a startup is not just about sitting down on a good quality bean bag with the latest laptop (best h/w+s/w one could ever fantasize) and code all day and there are thousands lining at your doorstep to buy your company or use your product.

I believe this conversation is restricted to "hiring" a "developer". So my problem is only getting the code sing its song and sing it well.

> Hmm. If you count "being rigid (no pun) upon what exactly shall be your tools of trade and you count that as a part of CTC and also marked off your offer letter, then it's personal choice and you are right - you should get what you want, provided the other guy agrees.

If you want to include the software and hardware I use in my CTC, then you should be prepared to hand me off the licenses if I choose to leave. I am yet to come across anyone who is willing to do that. Lastly, I am a big supporter of BYOD, something most startups have no idea about.

> But then again cost matters, for most probably you won't be the only one working there, neither the most preferred one (or maybe you are; depends).

Being an developer, cost is not my problem. And I don't care about if I am not the only one working there. I am working for a startup because I expect to get a one to one conversation with the management. And if you think I am not the most preferred one, then please look for your most preferred one.

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2 points by amar 682 days ago | link

Nobody is asking you not to get the better/good tools and I had mentioned already that if you are totally rigid on it and not at all ready to talk/negotiate on what your tools shall be, you fall in that category which I mentioned in ">>4 .." part of my last comment, then it's a very (personal) specific case.

There was nothing related to FOSS/Non-FOSS discussion here. I just hope you mentioned your own caution and didn't actually see it in comment.

When there's code base of 42GB (Just a not very common example) then the last thing you worry about is a slick UI but having it shall be a ++. And yes, for such a big mass my "code browser" is necessary.

>>I believe this conversation is restricted to....code sing..

You missed the whole point. I meant - if someone is hiring you that doesn't mean he is not an expert at what you do. In fact he can as well be more than 1 times better than you but he cannot afford to do it himself, for lack of time and/or other responsibilities. He has sure other things to do, maybe that's why he is considering you as a hire in the first place. So, he might be knowing exactly what you need and what you don't.

>>.... of BYOD, something most startups have no idea about

I am sure there are many startup people (founders etc) on HS and I sincerely believe they shall disagree just I do.

Whole point was having a conversation or negotiation, not to stop you or throw garbage at your desk. And it turns out to be your 'make or break a deal' thing :-)

>>Let's take this conversation like you are trying to hire me for your startup :-)

Nice meeting you. I am sorry to say you are not the colleague/co-founder/developer I am looking for and surely I am not the one who fits your bill of a non-negotiating founder/hirer. Good luck to you, good luck to me too. Over and out? :-)

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1 point by subhro 682 days ago | link

> Nobody is asking you not to get the better/good tools and I had mentioned already that if you are totally rigid on it and not at all ready to talk/negotiate on what your tools shall be, you fall in that category which I mentioned in ">>4 .."

You even got me wrong. All the "Indian" startups I have come across primarily propel based on the Gandhi faced green or red bills. And I believe for working with good stuff, if a acquiring cost is involved, entrepreneurs should be prepared to take it.

> There was nothing related to FOSS/Non-FOSS discussion here. I just hope you mentioned your own caution and didn't actually see it in comment.

Just wanted to deliver a headshot to the FOSS/non FOSS discussion even before it cropped up.

> When there's code base of 42GB (Just a not very common example) then the last thing you worry about is a slick UI but having it shall be a ++. And yes, for such a big mass my "code browser" is necessary.

42GB? And you need to get the whole code in the scope? Pardon me, but does it not look like you are fixing the wrong problem? But again it's YOUR code so YOU are the best person to comment.

> slick UI

Slick UI is not a CoreGraphics or GTK/QT marvel. I, personally being a FreeBSD guy, both dev and admin, deal with command line more than lots of devs. But I do believe that UI is important and should not have a steep learning curve. Remember, when one gets a new phone, most of the people are more interested in making a phone call/playing some cool games/run some cool apps rather than reading a (even) 5 page manual to get the damn thing boot up.

> You missed the whole point. I meant - if someone is hiring you that doesn't mean he is not an expert at what you do. In fact he can as well be more than 1 times better than you but he cannot afford to do it himself, for lack of time and/or other responsibilities.

I have not been discreet with my explanation. I have always been hired as a key member in a startup, almost as a co-founder. After 9 years of experience, if I am working for a startup, then generally I am expected to be the head of the drill, not the tail or middle portions of it. Having said that, generally I am better than my hirer at what I have been hired for. And assuming your argument holds, it implicitly means that I do not have to explain to him WHY I am asking for a specific platform/toolset because he is better than me anyway or he will come with a sane non financial based argument using which he can convince me :-)

> I am sure there are many startup people (founders etc) on HS and I sincerely believe they shall disagree just I do.

Last startup, I asked for a couple of thunderbolt monitors to daisychain my desktop. Answer: Why do you need Apple MBPs. They make so costly hardware. For the C programming you do, you can be well off with a Lenovo with DVI outputs This whole BYOD thing sucks since it pulls up COST. Sounds familiar? :-)

> Nice meeting you.

Same here. Although my definition of "meet" is more face to face.

> I am sorry to say you are not the colleague/co-founder/developer I am looking for and surely I am not the one who fits your bill of a non-negotiating founder/hirer.

You broke my heart :'-(. I am jobless and was anyway looking for an offer. On a serious note, I believe in doing things the right way the first time. Else I do not have the right to take your money. And if I do not get the right tools or someone is good at convincing me that what I am asking for is wrong, I can't work at 100%.

> Good luck to you, good luck to me too. Over and out? :-)

Of course good luck to you. And if you meant sarcasm in that smiley, then I am sad that you did not get my standpoint.

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1 point by amar 682 days ago | link

No, I am not solving a wrong problem with that 42GB code base thingy. You don't know about it so you have no idea, maybe that's why said so.

I am a very happy MBA user since last few months but I agree with that founder who refused you the TBolts. But again that's you and your choice/need.

Slick UI is sth that looks/feels good and works good. That simple, cutting all the condescending definitions of anybody. Now someone may want it to be minimal and someone else with all the bells and whistles. Either is right in his/her personal choices. That's exactly what I meant.

>>it implicitly means that I do not have to explain to him WHY

No, it doesn't imply so. You might be wrong, you might be lying. You might just want that fancy hardware to post on Facebook. Yeah yeah you are too grown up for that stunt but who knows, you might as well be doing just that ;-). So, no this argument of yours doesn't hold IMO.

>>he will come with a sane non financial based argument using which he can convince me :-)

Exactly. He sure will do. But by opting out of a negotiation you have already pre-emptied any argument at all.

>>meeting

I have adapted. I call 'met face in person', 'met online' etcetera. So, I used the generic term.

>>I believe in doing things the right way the first time

Agree. It's good if you let the guy know what you want and there's no negotiation over it and the guy can let you know whether to move forward with the discussion or not, rather than sulking later after joining.

>>..sarcasm...

Yes, the smiley was out of sarcasm/(or just funny and non malicious one). Please do not read between lines here, I was not trying to be an a. For that I generally use another disposable ID :D (sadly not very often). And it was just because you have been focussed on how you, personally, shall not buzz from your demand. And, I sure got your standpoint and completely disagreed, in a civil manner.

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2 points by rick_2047 684 days ago | link

Perhaps I am just inexperienced, but isn't that good? Or you think that this vague answer implies there lack of... organization or market knowledge?

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1 point by subhro 684 days ago | link

It is actually good. But most startups in India I have asked this question to had answered, "How about a base model HP or Lenovo notebook and you can upgrade it when you saturate or the time comes". Hence, I believe it is a good reality check.

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1 point by dez 674 days ago | link

on a similar note, I've heard of some startups giving their developers years old second hand computers to work it. I've done the same at a few places as well. I've even knocked out some stuff on a pentium 4 system, and a 15' monitor. It's absolutely absurd, that some startups can spend alot of money chasing investors, buying them fancy dinners, but not equip their developers properly.

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2 points by rrjanbiah 683 days ago | link

I recently had a discussion with someone on same topic...

"Startup" usually means less money, more working hours, less quality of life, not so good environment, etc. So, the realistic options would be: 1. Equity, 2. Founders' ability to scale quickly (everybody wants to be part of winning team), 3. Ability to move out of coding quickly--to say, managing or something (more people prefer hardwork only on earlier stages), 4. [Rarely,] opportunity to start own startup

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2 points by sushrutbidwai 684 days ago | link

I look at two things before taking up consulting work -

1. Who introduced us and is that person some one I can trust. 2. How much control will I have to fulfill responsibilities entrusted to me.

There are few other things I might look at, but it pretty much boils down to these 2 things

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2 points by amar 685 days ago | link

Good:

- Money. >>Most important, really most important.

- Work culture/condition.

- Last point should, more or less, cover everything else.

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2 points by myth17 685 days ago | link

Simple: Working with other smart people. :)

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