One of our investors asked me an interesting question recently:
If you had to do it over again, how would you describe the background that you would have loved to have coming in as the technical co-founder of Modcloth? What technical skills as well as soft skills do you think would be helpful to have in the initial stages and as you scale as you have done?
This got me to thinking. If I was looking for a technical co-founder today, what would I look for? I think it’s a timely question considering the startup environment right now, and it’s possible (maybe even likely) that some of you are asking yourselves this question right now. So hopefully you can benefit from some of the experience I’ve gained over the years.
Doing things the right way technically (I’ve always liked using the term ‘better practices’, not ‘best practices’) takes a lot of time and effort. When you’re young and a founder you want to do everything the right away and have working code in the morning. You want people who understand how to make those investments/tradeoffs the right way – they understand there is such a thing as overegineering and going too fast. Someone who knows from feeling the pain – who’s done it both right and wrong and has a good alignment between the two.
In the real world, the pendulum swings. One time you might overengineer and then know you need to cut back next time and vice versa. In addition to the characteristics in my wish list, for a co-founder I’d want someone with a balanced background in reality who can settle into a healthy middle ground.