Having a long-running technical position in your start-up might sound like something that’s only necessary for more established companies. Why hire a member of staff when you can outsource software development? In reality, there’s much more to start-up tech roles than just coding. The right person will provide a range of essential skills that will grow and evolve alongside your company.
With 23% of start-ups failing because they don’t have the right people on board, creating a strong team mix is clearly a vital foundation for success.
In this piece, we’ll take a look at some of the reasons a tech lead can be a seriously helpful person to have on your team, regardless of the stage you’re at on your start-up journey.
Unlike a developer, a tech lead holds a decision-making role in your company and is responsible for managing the team working on your software. They are technical people with a deep understanding of development, coding, and architecture, but they’re not just building the product — they look after the bigger picture too. They’re a trusted and central part of the team whose values are aligned with the company vision. They take a strategic role, building a technical roadmap for success and supporting the development team to hit their goals.
An engineer or developer stepping into a tech lead role may need to learn a new set of skills. Whereas before their thinking may have been data-driven and focused on implementation, they will now also need to embrace a strategic, conceptual approach.
Their responsibilities as a tech lead may now include relationship management, risk management and ensuring collaboration and communication happen effectively both within and across teams. But their technical background will equip them with a unique understanding that nobody else at their level in the company will have. That’s what makes them such a powerful and important player in the company’s success.
Of course, every start-up is different, with different products, goals, and set-ups. But if you have a technical product, regardless of how big or small your company is, there are strong arguments for having an ongoing technical role in your start-up team.
Here are just a few:
In the early stages of development, your tech lead is there to make sure the product is feasible, and support your development and coding team to create something that works well for your target market. They may be coding themselves too, but most of their time will be focused on teasing out potential issues, problem-solving, and supporting the team as they shape your ideas into a real-life product that actually works.
It’s easy enough to find freelance developers to work on your project, but how do you know if your outsourced help is a good fit without a technical person to guide you? A tech lead is a trusted member of the leadership team who can help you recruit, onboard and manage a development team that has the right skills and experience. They’re invested in making sure goals are hit and work is done to a high standard.
Tech leads are also a vital link between less technical leaders and developers. They understand what the development team needs, what the leadership team needs, and can create realistic goals that satisfy both parties and align to the company’s vision.
If you’re an early-stage start-up, investors will need strong reassurance that your team is capable of taking your idea to the next round of funding. Your tech lead will have a deep understanding of your product’s technical performance and a clear grasp of the product roadmap. A good tech lead is always a valuable asset in a pitch.
Ideally, a technical role should be able to evolve alongside your company. As you gain investment and the team grows, they’ll need to be less hands-on and take on even more of a strategic management role.
They should be able to handle the challenges that come with scaling, sometimes at a rapid rate. They should also work to adapt and refine your product offering based on customer feedback and shifting market trends.
The salary of a tech lead in a startup can vary based on several factors, including the size of the company, the location, and the experience level of the tech lead. According to Glassdoor.com, the average tech lead salary in Europe as of November 7, 2023, is €93.000 with a range of €83.000 to €105.000.
However, it's important to note that startup salaries can differ significantly from established company salaries, as startups often offer equity compensation in addition to a base salary. Startup founders must consider various factors when determining how much to pay themselves, including the stage of the startup, the funding available, and the financial needs of the founders.
When it comes to equity compensation, a tech lead in a startup may receive stock options or equity grants, which can potentially be worth more than the base salary over time if the startup is successful. However, it's important to carefully consider the terms of the equity compensation, including the vesting schedule and the potential dilution of shares.
Overall, the salary of a tech lead in a startup can vary widely depending on the specific circumstances of the company and the individual. It's important for both the tech lead and the startup founders to carefully consider the salary and equity compensation to ensure a fair and sustainable compensation package.
One of the most important steps on the road to becoming a tech lead is gaining experience as a developer or engineer. This experience provides the foundation for building technical expertise and understanding the software development process. It is also essential to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies, tools, and frameworks to ensure that the development team is using the most efficient and effective methods.
In addition to technical skills, a tech lead must also possess soft skills, such as communication, leadership, and trust-building. Effective communication is essential for ensuring that everyone on the team is on the same page and working towards the same goals. Leadership skills are necessary for guiding the team and making critical decisions. Trust-building is essential for creating a culture of collaboration and accountability.
As a tech lead, it is also important to take on additional responsibilities, such as mentoring and hiring new developers, ensuring code quality through code reviews, and planning and executing software development projects. This requires a deep understanding of the software development life cycle (SDLC) and project management principles.
Finally, a successful tech lead must be committed to ongoing growth and development. This includes staying up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in software development, as well as continuously improving their leadership and communication skills.
These are just a handful of reasons why a technical role could play a big part in your start-up's growth. Although the role and responsibilities of a tech lead will shift as your company evolves, having the right partner at each stage can be a game-changer.
Ideally, they’ll be somebody who believes in the product and the team, has the company’s interests at heart, and is motivated to make your idea the success it deserves to be.
Coding and development really are just the tip of the iceberg. Your tech lead is also a valuable part of the team that can ensure your start-up's growth stays firmly on track.
What is a tech lead?
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