I sometimes find myself sitting with business folks, trying to hire more tech people.  And it recently struck me how the business pitch does not always match the technology pitch.  The business pitch typically is extremely positive, well thought out and involves a clear set of reasons why working for them is a great idea.  It involves a list of business priorities, customers and finally the “isn’t it fabulous mass potential – just wait for it — idea”.  For example, I’m building this incredible dating site for farmers and it has the potential to rock this world.   Or I’m doing a great interactive interview, video site – and, by the way, it will be a Billion dollar business in a year.  Usually, it’s followed by, “by the way you have to work for free and yea, we really want someone to be excited like us on this idea so you spend every waking moment thinking like us. “

That’s the wrong pitch for developers.   Developers need something to work for.  That “something” is usually: a) Nerdy,  b) Good Karma, c) Fun, or d) Money.

Maybe it’s because we’re nerds.  For example, let’s build that next search engine, a flying robot that hacks into WiFi traffic,   or we’re going to build that high-performance big data system.   And if not’s going to be nerdy, then we might do it for good.  Let’s go build a micropayments system that helps poor in India – then we’ll open source it so others can help folks in Africa.  And of course, it has to be fun.  Building your own game where you shoot zombies — that’s fun.

If it’s not nerdy, there is no goodness to it, and well it’s not all that fun, then you’re going have to pay a developer.  Sorry.  Developers understand that they can get paid and a lot if they want.  We were collecting money since we started coding at 15.

This is not to say a business person can’t pitch and hire developers.  It’s just they need to focus on the right pitch.  The part about building the dating site for farmers: talk to the fun of it, the good karma in helping lonely farmers in Iowa, and well the challenge in handling the scaling issues when 2 million farmers log in to check their profiles before harvest.  The video site business guy should talk about the new protocol they have to build to handle the unique demands.

Finally, make sure to pay something.  If it’s in return for future payout, developers tend to be good at Math and they know the statistics of winning the lottery as well as the chances of hitting it big on farmer dating.   Make sure there is money involved or an equal trade in resources for money.  Lastly, treat the developer as equally as possible.  Everyone is part of a team together, they may even have a better dating site idea.

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Posted in Cofounding, Startups on October 18, 2012   2

2 Responses to “Developers need to work for something”

  1. amedar consulting

    Thank you for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such magnificent info being shared freely out there.


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