I was recently asked if one should hire experienced developers or enthusiastic college fresher for building the next successful startup.
From my perspective, a startup needs both kind of talent to succeed. One could easily find equally talented people directly from college. Being a rockstar talent has got nothing to do with experience. There are just varied traits of rockstar developers and you could find the list of traits here.
Some gray hair experienced professionals who have had their fair share of successes and failures in their professional life so that they know the patterns of startup success. If not the patterns of startup success then may be the anti-patterns or “The 10 things to do to derail your development effort” because experience gives you enough “gotcha” that you know how not to step on potential land mines.
Okay, I lie.
Some people are just born lucky and experience success all the times. Damn! Those lucky people!
Nonetheless, having experienced professionals as part of your startup can bring invaluable insights about building a startup and also, leveraging the right framework/processes for a higher chance of success. Just make sure that when you hire such people that it’s not merely a job or a paycheck for them. That they have bought into the vision of your startup and would do everything to make it successful. Read this post to make sure you are hiring right.
At the same time, one also needs unbridled passion of a young developer to change the world or put the proverbial dent in the universe. Someone who haven’t had their professional DNA changed by prior industry experience. Someone who doesn’t have a fixed mindset and suffers from “This is how things are done in the professional world”. A young developer who is extremely passionate to bring about a difference and doesn’t have the word “risk” in their dictionary.
And, the most important aspect, someone who has had their share of interesting daily rituals – diet full of bits and bytes for breakfast, heavy compiling at lunch and taking a stroll in the night with interesting data structures. You talk to someone like that and you know they are special. BTW, I’ve been very lucky to find such people and build amazing products with them.
If the question still needs to be answered then I would say – Great question 🙂
Short answer. Well, there is no short answer 🙂
Long answer, There isn’t a long answer either 🙂
It’s merely a great question.
The answer is “It depends”. It depends on your situation and the kind of startup you are trying to build.
Sometimes startup needs lots of experienced professionals especially when they are trying to disrupt a space owned by an existing set of enterprise apps. In that case, it is always great to have people by your side who understand that enterprise class of applications and can help you navigate through the complex web of building for enterprises.
At the other hand, may be no experienced professional people when you are venturing into a completely new territory or way of doing things. One only needs lot of grit, passion and user centered thinking for the idea to succeed. Ahem…some cash for running the startup might also be needed as well.
That said, from my side, the best combination is some sort of experience(even an incredible and intense college experience would do) mixed with some serious technical chops. Thus, I would try to find a technical ninja(age, no bar) with loads of passion and some experience. I would be able to run faster and hopefully make fewer mistakes in the process.
In the end, it’s primarily like the poster above – “One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested“.