Technology Roles And When To Hire Them: Part 1

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When you start hiring your tech team, determining which roles you need can be a daunting task. Having a good tech team means that the team plays great together, is very talented, and has the right set of skills to support the business.

Looking through the lens of a small- to medium-sized startup (how you hire will change as you scale), below are the common roles you should consider hiring, their responsibilities, and most importantly, when to hire them.

Chief Technical Officer

In my previous post, I mentioned Chief Technical Officer (CTO) as a vital part of scaling a development team.

Ideally, you will have a technical co-founder. In some cases, that’s not an option and a startup will need to outsource development or find different ways of making it work. However, for the sake of this article, let’s presume that you indeed do have a technical co-founder.

The technical co-founder should act as the CTO of the company at the start and all of the important technical decisions should be made by this individual.

As your business grows and your team of engineers expands, technical co-founders sometimes stay with the startup and continue to contribute in the CTO role. It’s also not uncommon for a founder to step down from a “C” level executive role and go do something else within a company. Make sure your technical co-founder wants to be a CTO.

Role Overview

Responsible for choosing:

  • Frameworks
  • Languages
  • Architecture
  • Hardware

Must be able to: 

  • Communicate business requirements to technical team
  • Communicate technical issues to the business team
  • Set expectations for the business team

When To Hire: Early stage

Front-End Developer/Designer

It doesn’t really matter how good your product is if it isn’t visually pleasing or providing your customer with a positive experience. Customers today demand a product that has polished UX/UI, is responsive, and looks good across multiple devices. That’s where a front-end developer/designer comes in.

Sometimes front-end developers and front-end designers are completely separate roles, but in the early days of a startup, it is highly recommended to have a designer with front-end chops and vice-versa.

As far as hiring goes, ideally you would want to have this person as early as possible. Sometimes that’s not possible, so your technical co-founder will take on this role.

Role Overview

Responsible for:

  • Creating UX/UI flows
  • Being able to create HTML/CSS mocks
  • Being able to create inVision (or similar tool) mocks

When To Hire: Early-to-mid stage

Back-End Developer

Most technology startups today require some sort of backend to support it. That means databases, APIs, security, and everything in between.

Ideally, you will be able to hire this person from start, but if not, that’s where a technical co-founder steps in, again, and takes over this role.

Role Overview

Responsible for:

  • Adding functionality to your software
  • Making sure that system has basic security
  • Creating APIs if needed
  • Data integrity and database operations

When To Hire: Early-to-mid stage

Mobile App Developer

If your business requires a mobile application, you are going to need a mobile app developer.

As with other roles, you would ideally have this person from the start, but if not, the technical co-founder should wear this hat, too.

One thing to note here is that if your product is relatively simple, meaning no augmented reality, virtual reality or 3D, you might want to take a look into hybrid apps when you are starting out. Hybrid apps are built with one language, usually Javascript, fairly quick to develop with, and most importantly, can publish to both Android and iOS. This will cut the need for hiring two app developers instead of one. Once the product reaches maturity, and you need to scale or add features like augmented reality, you will most likely need native development, and with that, separate people for separate platforms.

Role Overview

Responsible for:

  • Developing features in the mobile app

When To Hire: Early-to-mid stage

You can see the pattern – a lot of these roles can be played by a technical co-founder at the start. That works pretty well while you are still small and are just entering the market, but as soon as you start growing you want to diversify roles.

In the next post we will review positions such as Data Scientist, Q&A Person, Machine Learning Engineers & more.