Thursday, November 15, 2012

The First Technical Founder Mistake

I personally am a technical founder with decent knowledge from motherboard to front-end design and that gives me the assurance that I don't know anything and should either learn a lot or take other talented people on board to do most of those things properly.

The Pattern

somewhat technical founders (i.e. with some scripting knowledge, and a bit of database use experience i.e. mysql) know they can reach "a" result by themselves, and rush to do it, without considering the major pitfalls.

They may very well be not the best person to do it.

Quite clearly a better programmer (there's always one) could have written it in half the time while you were securing funding or figuring out another important part of the business.

A well-known example

facebook has that problem, with a mostly PHP and MySQL background brought by the founder and generalized as company tradition.

That makes their IT stack extremely ineffective and at least triples their costs, a major factor in survival probability (burn rate).

I since heard that they eventually at least partly woke up and started considering real tools instead of toys, but clearly they are still suffering greatly from a legacy of bad design choices.

The Impact

Big infrastructure costs > (more) advertising > less users > much less money longer term and possibility of losing that winner-takes-all market.

The Solution

Always be improving, do stuff yourself if you have to but always look up and reach for quality, it's a better long-term strategy.

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