The Pair Program
The Pair Program

Episode 5 · 4 months ago

From Seed to Series A: How to Scale Your Product Development Teams | The Pair Program Ep05

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Join us as our hosts, Tim and Mike, talk to startup engineering leaders, Frankie Nicoletti and Josh Tong. Frankie is a software engineer, leader, educator, and polymath and has worked at several early-stage startups ranging from ecommerce to social media. Josh Tong is currently the Principal Product Manager at CognitOps and offers a decade of experience building out product teams at Series A startups.

This episode sheds light on startup engineering and product teams as they scale from seed to Series A.

You’ll learn:

  • The characteristics of technical professionals who fit in a seed stage startup, as opposed to a Series A startup
  • Ways to build the engineering and product teams during each of these stages (including outsourcing vs growing internally)
  • The greatest challenges facing product & engineering when scaling from seed to Series A.

Welcome to the pair program From Hatch Pad, the podcast that gives you a front row seat two candid conversations with tech leaders from the startup world. I'm your host, Tim Winkler, the Creator of Hatch Pad, and I'm your other host, Mike Ruin. Join US each episode is we bring together two guests to dissect topics at the intersection of technology, startups and career growth. Hey, what's up everyone? Welcome to another episode of the pair of program the show that brings together two technologies from the startup world to talk tackle topics at the intersection of technology and career growth. I'm your host, Tim Winkler and my cohost Mike Ruin. Let's get into it. Frankie, Josh, what's going on? Good to see again, good this to you. Thanks for having us. Or See, I'm excited all right, as you both know, this is the pair of program we love two of everything here, so let's kick things off with a fun segment that we call pair me up, where each guest contributes a unique pairing. I'll go ahead and begin. Always been a big fan of game shows, so I'm going to go with game show host and Alex Trebek, the goat. I thought long and hard about this because Bob Barker played a serious role in my life. You know, stay at home, that's sick day, watching prices, right, but I'm I think you gotta go Alextra Beck. You know they're running through these rotations right now to figure out who the next house is going to be. But just hard to hard to top that, in my opinion. I mean that the level of that, that sweet spot of like arrogance that he brings to the like that he brought, I think was important aspect of jeopard anything that's gonna be tough to I mean, and I'm not saying that in a negative way, I think he it was definitely part of the person of the came through that I thought was good, like when he was answer MC quite like when people didn't get the question right. He's definitely gonna be tough to replace. And then the SNL parodies like we could go on exactly, like what do you got? So I'm going with chainsaws and overconfidence. Well, well, back story there. So growing up, I grew up in upst New York. A lot of would we actually had this big wood burning stove heat of the whole house so cutting wood with my dad was like something we spent a lot of time. I have a chainsaw, like to use it. My neighbor recently had a tree that he wants to get rid of. Asked for my help, assured me he knew what he was doing and as like really, and he started getting out ropes and and other things because he was going to try and top the tree and bring it down like piece by piece, and as like if you if you know what you're doing, that's great, and I he assured me he did. He'd worked with in landscaping in the pass ball wall. Needless to say, it did not go smoothly. Nobody was seriously injured, including myself, but it's, you know, the lesson I remember growing up. I was talking my dad about this. was like, as soon as you're bringing out ropes, chances are you want to actually use your wallet, like just go ahead and get a professional take care of so that's my that's my pair chainsaws and overconfidence. Yeah, funny, good, Josh, whyn't you once you go next? Okay, I think artists and entrepreneurs, I think the two of those have a a lot in common, and the more you like explore artistic endeavors, for those writing or painting or poetry or whatever, you start to realize that the the bravery and the vulnerability that comes with those artistic expressions. It's also pretty similar to what you know, entrepreneurs have to exhibit to bring their things into that as well. So that's something I've kind of enjoyed, studying those two things kind of in parallel and seeing the common allies between both. What's really interesting.

I am favorite artist. No, not necessarily. I mean I've I enjoy riding and I enjoyed, like some of the great novelist, so earnest hemming well, and some of those just enjoy the craft of writing in the more I've studied about that, the more you know, you just you see these parallels. There's a great book called Art Bear. The talks about just the difficulty of putting something new into the world, a lot of the psychology that happens, and so kind of reading that as a bobby, but living in the world of startups and and entrepreneurship, it's just it's cool to see the overlap between both. Cool. Mike, did you have some you know, I was just going to say. I think that there's a similar I've the creativity and sort of artistic musician that type of stuff. I've office seen a lot of correlation between that and engineering product as well, and I was just curious if you've also seen that have some more experience? Yeah, in the line between like brilliance and just playing crazy is obviously a very it's a very narrow line, right, and so a lot of people are misunderstood for a long time. Right. Some never fully, you know, make the mark like they hope to, but others do, you know, they see a future that people never saw and were crazy enough to pursue it and eventually the world caught up to him. And so it's kind of see her little journey. Really. Yeah, absolutely, frank you. What what do you have for a pairing? Yeah, so my pairing is things that make us emotional for absolutely no valid reason, and those two things are men's professional sports and the Bachelor Nation Franchise. They both have a huge amount of viewership and people that are in a bad mood the next day depending on the outcome. Really, the only difference between these two things, which both involved massive drinking parties while you watch the big events, right, is that you can't bet on the bachelor because it's recorded in advance and there's lots of websites where you can go up and look up, you know, the spoilers of the season because it's all happening in advance. I swear that's the only reason people don't bet on the bachelor. Otherwise I think those two things would be completely identical. It's a very arbitrary sense of rules. Everybody's got a role to play. You're not ever really seeing anybody's true face in either of these things. Right. It's still a job and they both just can make it irrationally upset because you're emotionally invested in these people on your TV. MMM. So, yeah, sports and Bachelor nation. It's funny actually. I can specifically remember, you know, walking into the office on Mondays and being a Washington football team fan, just complete dumpster fire over here. One day's folks are just pissed off, you know, durn football season and then you get one win and you could just see like Steve So chipper today, you know, just like I remember reading a book about like sort of the psychology of people and Blah, Blah Blah, and one of the things I remember from the book was like when your team wins, it's your team, when they lose, it's they lost this never we like the lose. We want emotional tie. Now, that's a good one. Cool, those fun let's let's steg way out of this and into the meat of the discussion here. So I'll go ahead and jump into this all right. On today's episode we're going to be covering a top pick that we like to call stage fright. So this is an episode all about dissecting the unique growing pains, Challenges Growth Hacks that startups experience going from seed stage to series A. Given this as a pretty broad topic, we're going to keep this more narrowed into, you know, rolls and how teams might change from seed to a. You know, Frankie, you'll be kind of engineering perspective here, Josh, or you're a product perspective. Frankie. Let's start with you, just maybe first off, for some contact...

...for the listeners. You know, how many seed stage startups have you been a part of and of those you know kind of graduated into a series a stage? Yeah, so great question. My last company that I was at was seed stage and we were actively raising series a to the day that this is recording. I don't think they've been able to do that. Sometimes you just don't have a product market fit. You try and experimented, it doesn't work. I've worked at a couple other companies that were essentially siege stage. Well, they had previous funding. They were either after a pivot or some sort of catastrophic problem that caused them to sort of start from the ground level again, because sometimes this also works like shoots and ladders. So they had a lot of the same seed stage problems. While they might have advertised that they were seeking series be but if you don't have a product market fit, you're essentially at the same place as the seed stage folks. You have a lot of the same the same issues and Josh it. You know I've talked to you off and Ang. We've done a few interviews in the past. You know this is your sweet spot. Right. Maybe a little little context for the listeners on your background. Yeah, so I've done one preseede one seed stage that was similar to what Frankie mentioned, where they actually had other funding. But do you see you kind of continue to remain in that that seed strata and then the other four BC back companies I've been a part of have. I've been typically one of the first product people brought in, and that's typically at the series, as you're right there at that transition from seed to a, and so that's really where I spent most of my career. Oh well, let's dive into some of the some of those topics then. So what are some like the major differences that you see from sort maybe with leadership rolls in steed versus you know how those evolved in a maybe a series, a back type of start up? Frankie, maybe from from your perspective on engineering, there's actually several articles you could find on the Internet about the five types of engineering leaders you need as your company Scales from seed to to IPO, because the job looks completely different. The other way you might see this laid out is you know that that article about handing over your Legos because you're a job actively changes. Your first engineering leader is probably actively writing code. They're doing a lot of things themselves. They don't have a lot of support. Right in some cases it's been the case for me. Sometimes I have needed to act as product management as well, either because as we didn't have one, or because there was too much product management work for the product management team that we had. There's a lot of reasons why that might happen and so you know that that job is actively going to shift and you have some choices as you grow about whether you want to hire somebody in over top of them or whether that person is able to build the skills necessary. But your your seed stage engineering leaders are usually epic Jack of all trades. Their writing code, they're doing performance management of the other engineers, they're working closely with product and they're also figuring out what's an acceptable amount of tech debt for that particular moment of time at the business. You are a lot of hats. I think I've lost track of the original question. Well, I mean I'm curious what your thoughts are, because they think, especially in the early is right that that that first engineer is doing so much. A lot of times they are also trying to figure out what they want to do next in their career. Right this is sort of this is their first or maybe second step into more of a leadership position. Maybe at the last place they were and I see senior dad whatever, and now this is a you know, this is their opportunity to do a little bit of management, a little bit of this, a little bit of business ownership. I'm curious if you know what your thoughts are, because I think that's also a big part of it. Is them themselves figuring out what they want to do next. Absolutely, and I've been on two sides of this. One is cuidencing engineers that they should go work at early stage start up specifically for that kind of experience. The other thing is being that person myself. A couple jobs ago, I...

...was hired in as a team lead and they were right on the tail end of some very big change that happened and a bunch of people left and then suddenly it was just me. It's like, well, I guess you better give me the director title now, which they did, you know, but you it helps to have a goal in mind when you go working to start up as as an early stage engineer. Is your goal just to acquire some specific experience so that you could take that on to the next place, or do you just want to go flex your muscles and see what you can do? That will also help you in making the decision about how long you should stay there, because the earlier the startup is and the more likely you are to experience significant change, the less need there is for you to actually be there for years and years and years. Right, the engineers that you hire at the beginning who want to write the really scrappy code and just get the thing out the door, or maybe not the same ones who are capable of fixing your tech deep problems that you have six months because they're too to see making them. Yeah, that's spot on, and they're not invested. Right, if you're an early stage, scrappy startup engineer and that's what you enjoy, right, that's sort of real life hackathon happening. By the time you have to start maintaining the code basis that you stood up, maybe you don't care about that anymore, and I think that's a good journey to go and I think it's a good question to ask yourself. And I think you know another thing, and I encourage people to do the same thing, which is go and try different roles, see what you like you don't. You won't really know if it's a good fit or what you enjoy doing until you try it. And it may be the case like in my career, I sort of was pushed into a little bit of a management role pretty early on and as like, I like the job but I miss this other stuff, and so I went back and went back to engineering for a while, knowing that I enjoyed some of that management stuff and I can get back to that if I want to. And I think that's an important thing as well, is that it get there's flexibility in a start up where you can bounce back and forth between leadership, I see management, and there can be lots of definitions of that. Yeah, even at the same company you could do that. Yeah, right, because when they're ready to hire more people, you could always pipe up. It's say, I would like you to hire me a new boss, right, right, I just want to deal with this stuff. I want to just write mark on this other stuff. The reverse, make me the boss. That's a little bit of a harder sell, but you can always, like pless, hire me bus, Josh. What have you saying on a from the products side of the house? Yeah, it's it's interesting. You know, typically product comes in at the series a stage, so product at the seed stage is generally the founders and this kind of engineering leader, quite honestly, and and early customers. Right, those are the voices that are typically shaping that first version of the product and in honestly, don't. You know, I think there's some advantage to having product early. But when you when you're a seed stage product person, you're wearing a lot of non product pats, like you're typically customer success, you're typically operations, you're typically Qa, you're typically you know, and some product work. So if you like that, you like you know, that's spread, then that can work really well. But if you want to do true product stuff, that's really start kicking and at least in my experience around the the series a type frame. Have you seen where like a product person maybe is one of the very first senior technology type hires, and it's real and there there, there technical solution is we're going to outsource engineering or we're going to we're going to use this third party to build the thing. We we think product is really important and that's why we want to retain this information with the actual engineering aspect of is maybe less. Have you? Have you seen that and what's your experience? You know, most of what I've seen as been actually, you know, having the engineers as a part of the core team typically were at least in it with teams. I've been a part of the outsourcing starts when you're ramping and you're trying to grow quickly and you just can't hire enough...

...local you know the folks, and that's where you start to augment with, you know, folks in Europe Asia. It's been at least what I've seen. How about you? Me Personally, I mean I've definitely had know a couple consulting companies where that's what they do. They specialize in working with founders who don't really know, yeah, the the tech side, and then and so they actually are the that engineering and they bring a little bit of product and then the first part, like one of the first hires has been a product person. It's an interesting it's an interesting journey. Yeah, I think that one of the things, especially engineering, it frank, imperie. So your thoughts on this, but I think early on, whatever you build your just planned, every platform, like whatever you do, is probably going to be wrong and you need to be ready to move on and I think some of those founders that start with this like outsource engineering idea like sort of have that as like a well, we know, like we're gonna yeah, we're gonna have to move off with this. In fact, actually, one of the companies, I forgot where I was the first engineer hired. They'd actually they had outsourced a lot of the initial build to these other companies to build that foundation and sort of prove out the the idea that founder had a lot more money to sort of self stake it. So, yeah, yeah, it's actually a good point. It especially for those like first that really like that first build. You know, I have seen that. But a lot of times sometimes those folks just get like absorbed into that core team. You know, we died, because they've if you can, you know, and then eventually they kind of get get bored and decide to move to their next challenge. But yeah, yeah, I think your spot on that. That's that's pretty common, at least in that like varies or at a one stage. You, Josh, actually like those, the the guys from prodify, like Denno religious so I talked to them quite a bit about this, because they do. They help with a lot of like early stage hiring, for for your first product hire right, and the common theme that could they come back with is like almost like put your blinders onto like title, because you don't. You would think maybe you need this chief product officer, this head of product. Really what you need is like a handson, like product manager, you know, not really managing people, but something that's really like getting their hands dirty and getting into the thick of it. Yeah, you're going to save a ton of money and you're going to give somebody an opportunity that's hungry, and really that's what you need in that in that seed phase or even like getting into that first product higher. Yeah, yeah, I know, I think you're I think your spot on. I mean especially in the seed and then the series a, as long as that person can also help with hiring the first few product managers and provide leadership there and then also help getting the like scaffolding for process and structure and place. Yeah, I think you can take a really you know, you know sharp by see or somebody that's had kind of that middle area to to really fill that leadership role in maybe that's been my journey, to be honest, is kind of you know, moving into that middle layer. And then at some point you can bring in the kind of hyperscale, you know, person to build out a large org. You know after that fact. So I think that's bought on. Yeah, the outsourcing thing is a challenge. I've been engineering leadership at an early stage start up where we had folks in Europe my team to span from Eure up to Thailand, and it had not been contextualized for anybody else that was there before me that if you have a bunch of international contractors write or Codebase, especially if you have them do it in a text Stac they were previously unfamiliar with Hm, you were going to have to rewrite it. And so one of the challenges that I had in that role was explaining to them that what was already in Github was mostly garbage and it we couldn't debug it, we couldn't even solve the problems like it was such a mess because there had there was literally zero incentive to maintain the codebase at all. The only it was just push this feature out, push it was two feature heavy, it was an overgrown MVP and it needed to be moved to another platform and...

...by the time we were even able to do a piece of that, we actually made a mistake. We should have just threw that rebuild up onto a subdomain, but we tried to put it right up. This was an ECOMMERCE. We tried to put it right up on the same website and the sort of local storage cookie stuff was so messed up that it broke things for basically all of our customers. Oh Man, we couldn't even replicate it locally. This is sort of your worstcase scenario of if you hire a bunch of overseas contractors and then you don't accept that you're going to have to rebuild it later, that these are the kinds of problems you deal with. Within a couple weeks of joining, I realized that there was enough information on the window object because they've rolled their own server side rendering to log into the database. Oh Wow, and I was like, AH, we are too big to be doing this. So you know, and then you have all then all of a sudden this all this tech dead exists that no one else, that the company, even thought was going to be on the horizon and it was a huge surprise. So I think you can absolutely outsource successfully, but everyone needs to not be under the delusion that they're going to build you the beginning of your final code base right right. It's a good just oh go ahead, my I was just gonna say, yeah, it's definitely it's a it's a step you can take, but it's like I sort of think of it as like you're, you know, you're out settling the West and the first thing you want to do is you want to build a shack that you can like sleep in while you build your house. Like yeah, this will, this is going to take care of ninety percent of my needs in the short term in terms of keeping me dry, place to sleep, place a white animals, but in the end this will eventually turn into the barn or the place I store the wood or just turns into fire what it's LP. Yeah, and it's okay for it to be firewood, right, right, I I always at a tech conference once and they were talking about legacy code. At like when you're at an early stage start up, all the Code U You were yesterday is like sea coat to day. Yeah, that's the right attitude to have about this. Right, when you wake up in the morning, everything from yesterday is like I say, right, but that's primarily are you think saying that's in like the seat stage, like, but when you get to see your series, a mean at this point you're, I would hope you're out, you're off of the the offshore, you know crutch and you're hiring internally at this point. Yeah, that's where I was going to just kind of piggyback on what you were saying. Freaky like on the products eyes, one of the biggest challenges you have in series a is like the pace of development just slows down because you're actually trying to do things right and you're trying to clean things up, and so a lot of the time, like that early team is is used to features just flying out the door because you're just so scrappy. You're not really concerned about architecture. You're just trying to like prove to yourself that this is valuable, we can serve this customer and it's the right thing. But then, in a like it takes it takes about a year, year and a half to really get people acclimated to like this new pace that's more consistent or predictable and it's just a lot slower. You just ship a lot less features because you're building it for scale. So that's one of the big challenges you have to really kind of fight through on the product side, coming in at that series a and you might have to have a conversation with the other leadership at the org about how you can have good quality code or you can have speed. You cannot have both. I will die on this hill fight your mother, not me. The slide everythal. Yeah, you get to pick where you are. You can't off. I think there's three things. There's speed, quality, maintainability, whatever you want to call it, and predictability. The predictabilit like you can, we can, we can move really, really quickly, or we can be predictable, but we can't do both. Like it's all like there's just there's so much time in the bucket. How we're going to a lot of and where...

...we're going to a lot of is like maintainability, figuring things out, predictability or shipping. Yeah, Yep, and you might pull out the old mythical man month essay like that. Can't stick that. I'm woming in a room and ask them to make a baby in a month. Yeah, what? One of the things that it's such a hard thing because the reason used to moving so quickly. One of the things that I've found really useful as a series a you're growing at a place where things start to break and so it becomes a really good natural opportunity to just like point to those things and say, Hey, remember that outach we had last week? That's because of X, Y Z, and that's why we want to prioritize this. You know that that initiative and start to allocate some bandwidth. So instead of like having the philosophical argument, those things inevitably just happen. Those quality issues just happened because you're you're so used to moving quickly that you just point to those and that can be a more productive way to get leadership to kind of connect the dots for them. As on the product side, let's say, a big thing that you know plays into this in terms of how teams kind of transition and build out is obviously going to be like from a hiring budget to you know, when you're in that steed stage, you're you got tight pockets, you know you can only do so much, and so when you think about graduating to that series a, you know you you now have a lot more more funds to play with. I'm curious to know you know what kind of trends that you've seen in terms of how teams are forming once there's a little bit more in the budget. You know, obviously there's no squads, pods, whatever you want to call them. I mean, how have you seen those start to grow out, Frankie? On the engineering side? Yeah, places do this very differently depending on who's in charge of making those decisions. And if it's me, it's always going to be based around like the areas of ownership in the codebase. I don't want multiple teams to own the same codebase, where if I were ever in a room and we're having a conversation about will team a owns lines fifty three, a hundred and team be owns like these other lines, full stop. And also the way that your features and your codebases grow and the way that your teams grow the very interconnected. So you know, at my last company, where I was of engineering it, I got to make these choices for myself. We were going to as we grew. You know, this was going to be the e commerce side, this was going to be the warehousing side right and probably eventually fleet would be its own team. They were going to be part of warehouse for the immediate but we had to separate the types of things that matter to people that were basically building an internal tool from the e commerce right. Even the way the product interacts with those are different and by combining like even having those two priorities on different tracks is already a benefit. Those code bases are going to grow in a way that makes sense for the engineers that are on the team. So you have to think long term about the at least in for the next six months into the future, what you think is going to happen with the product, and then how do you divide up the team so that they can be fully invested in the piece that they own rather than giving them like little snippets you definitely a pattern that I've seen that isn't great is when teams pick up something temporarily and then put it down when it's done. There's no incentive to make sure that it's easy to maintain later because you might not be the one doing it. Also, you're probably operating on that will, let's just get it out the door fast, and when you're seed stage and you're just trying to figure out market fit, you can you know your Jira aboard might be a bunch of posted notes on the wall and that's fine, but the minute you start needing to be predictable to your customers. That doesn't fly anymore. So I think you have to create your teams in the context of the product vision and also with the technical stuff needs to be to support that product vision and then divide it so that people can own as much of their own stuff as possible. That's the thing that's worth the best that I've seen. Yeah, that's spot on, brinky. The other thing that really helps...

...when you move to that model, in addition to the ownership, like you know, product benefits from that ownership. To write, you kind of break apart the key parts or based on product line or persona or key components whatever. It also really helps the leadership team start to think about how we want to invest and where we want to allocate resources, because you can get a warehousing team and a ECOM team. You can start to say, okay, we're going to invest, you know, five or ten more heads over the next, you know, period of time. Where do we want it? How do you want to allocate that? And that helps your roadmapping process because because they can start to think about it, with some some some investment buckets to think about. It makes those those conversations where is if you have one kind of consolidated team. It's way too hard to figure out how much is going to one part of the product versus the other and it can be really challenging. So I think your spot on with that and it helps not only the engineers but also the product to huge, huge help. And I think there's a product as was just going to say, like I think the it sort of goes without saying by I think it was implied. Frankie, tell me if I'm wrong. But like the idea of cross functional right, like in the old school days, back when I was an engineer, there was a front end team in the back end. Team in the front end worried about the front end and gave specks to the back end of the back end, built an API and blah, blah blah, and it took however long it took. Now it's cross functional. You you you want to align things to personas to intend to code base and so and so forth, and so they're much more vertical than they are or it's awful teams. Yeah, absolutely. I think the front end versus back end team might still working a handful of places, but for the most part you're still wanted sentivizing the engineers to behave the way you want them to behave right, but just to care about the whole feature and instead of it being parts of the code of parts of like the stack that we divide up, thinking about it in terms of the business units or of the business separations of concern also helpful to product management. Right, if one product manager can own e commerce and one and a different product manager can own the warehousing, that's better than one person trying to juggle those two could very different concerns with very different needs against each other. Or when right, or when you have two product managers that like right, have those two different things and you have a pool of engineers and they're fighting for resources and it's like well, only problems had to do such and such and only Jane knows how to do blind's like then you're playing all these other like that's how you know that things are really bad, when you're trying to figure out who can, who should work on what and like right, right, where's if the whole team is moving in the same direction and they're all invested in getting that feature or that product out, they can really work together in a way that's much better than if you were just sort of pulling people one off because you're like, well, you have this special skills that if you're at a seege to start up and there's only one person that could do one thing on the engineering team, you might already have a problem. I think it's key for retention to especially in this market, you can give somebody, you know, ownership of something and they can they can really own it, have some autonomy for on the product side that you know the the priorities and the strategy, but on the tech side you know the architecture and how we want to see this thing moving forward. I think that's really, really important and yeah, it makes a big difference. Yeah, and I think just sort of wrapping that up in my you know, the idea of Org structure versus team structure. I think I've had this conversation with any number of people where it's like, we can have a team structure that's this way, where there's a product person and elite engineer and so and so forth, but that doesn't necessarily have to be how we're organized from a reporting structure, right, and I think that that's something that some people, especially thounders, who may sometimes struggle with. Yeah, the only the only other thing that I think you got to be aware of coming into series a is is you got to be kind of patient. Like you have the vision of where you want to get to, but not all these pieces come together right. You might not have enough, you know, front end developers to really have one per team,...

...for example, right and you might need to let things kind of balance out and you might not have product managers that can fully focus, and so it just there is this piece where, if you kind of come from a big company and you're used to these like nicely carved out themes, it's going to take a little bit of time to get there and you have the vision of where you're getting to in your lane, the pieces in place, but there's definitely some patients that it's going to be a little bit non ideal, but you're moving towards where you need to get to. So what do you want? What do you all prefer? Do you prefer that seat environment or the that a environment? I prefer the seat environment when we can raise series a, when you're not just rotting fruit on the LAFE. Yeah, I think I like the series A. I think that's the more interesting piece for product managers. You're putting the structure of the process, starting to think through the strategy, and so I think that's probably the more but the place where you come in and you feel like you can really make an impact more so than the the seat stage. If you're a product person, the seats age, you're probably the founder. is the reality. Yeah, I don't I totally don't mind also playing a little bit of product management earlier on. But the heart, the hard part about all these things is that any time you join a seege to start up, you're making a bet. You're making a bet that there will be product market fit. Then you can find because most startups fail. Right, you have to treat it like that, right. Can't treat it like this is my this is going to be my life's work, this is where I'm going to get rich, like getting rich on an IPO is a side effect of making really good choices about how you allocate your career time. Yeah, it's not a destination, you know. So you you have to you have to know what kind of ride you're willing to get on and then know what your boundaries are and what you're trying to learn from it and then make good choices for yourself, right. The job markets crazy right now. You have a lot of choices. HMM. Yeah, and if you've never, for anybody listening, if you haven't worked at the seat stage, shut up. You should absolutely give it a try. Yeah, you know, you never know, you might love the chaos. HMM. Yeah, what is it brings folks? So I was gonna say I was. It always advised. Folks like you know, if you're interviewing theed or there's series a it, do little extra homework on the leadership and kind of see, like their backgrounds. I see where they came from, and then, you know, ideally you get a chance to speak with the C suite, at least somebody you know, high up, before making a decision so that you can buy you want that buy in and stuff to follow, you know, a vision if you can get behind the leadership. Yeah, pro tip. If it's an early stage tech company, you really want co founders and you really want one of them to be technical. Right. You end up with a whole most of very specific problems if you have either a single founder or if you have a pair of cofounders who don't know how engineering works. This is why all the big VC firms look for a technical cofounder because I think, statistically speaking, they're better off that way. That sounds like an awesome episode wenna horror stories. All right, will any any other closing remarks that you all want to throw in there before we transition to the next segment? We covered a good amount, all right. All right. So, yeah, this next segment here we're going to jump into. It's called round out my career. So this is a fun segment where we spend the community wheel with topics and questions that are all centered around career growth, and these are kind of crowdsource from the hatch bad community. So I'm going to spend the wheel here and see what today's topic is. And don't forget, one lucky Hatchbad community member can win a Free Raspberry Pie. We've land on the price by all right. Goals Awesome, get hyped. All Right, here go the here. All right. So this one's more centered around just...

...like setting goals. So I'd love to hear just any tips that you all have when it comes around, you know, setting setting some of those goals for maybe yourself, but also maybe members that are on your team. JG baunce, you start yeah, I mean what I think is in terms of like career goals. Is that what you're talking about? Like career goals? Yeah, I'd say, like specific towards like career goals. Yeah, yeah, I think that the biggest thing I've found is I've found that when I'm setting my my goals early in my career, I got a lot of insight from people that were down the road for me, but I didn't really know what goals to set earlier in my care and yes, to some extent you're always learning, right, but I think a lot of those conversations with people that were ten, fifteen years down the road had already been pretty effective in their careers. The kind of circle back and say, Hey, what kind of goals should I set? You know, I had a conversation with one startup CEEO, and one of his pieces was of advice was, you know, join a company early for the growth potential, right, and that's what part of what push me into setting a goal of hey, I want to I want to join an early stage C sage company has been great for my career. So I think you know, early in your careers, any think about career goals, be sure to inform that with folks that are have been effective in their careers and and use that insight help shape your own. Yeah, we'll said, Frankie and ea specific that you'd recommend. Guy. I always advise people, especially if you're looking at joining early stays start ups, which is what this episode has been about, is to really frame it is about you know you this is all the information that you have that says that this is this might be a good bet, and maybe here are some singles that you know in advance. Once this, if this sort of thing starts to happen, that maybe this is the writing on the wall right and you make good choices for yourself. You should not feel obligated to stick it out somewhere if you are not getting what you need. A lot of companies will try to preach that you loyalty, but at the end of the day the company's going to do what's best for them and you should do it's best for you. So you should take big risks, but also you should be willing to walk away when either you don't think there is product market fit or you don't think that you're going to get the kind of growth or coaching that you wanted out of that job. Right. So take the big wrist, but just be willing, stay light on your feet, right, be ready to pivot. You know, you set goals for yourself, but they don't have to be set in stone, and if you don't make them, but you had a really good reason to have done something else, you should still feel good about that. It's stuff. Mike, did you have anything on that? I mean, I think a little bit off of but what both of our guests were talking about. But with Frankie, I think one of the things, like, from a goals perspective, making sure that you're communicating with with leader, with your manager or supervisor whatever, about what you want, what your what you know. It's a two way thing, right, like, if they don't know what you're looking for, then they're not going to really give you those opportunities. Similarly, if you're constantly I think we made it. We might even joked about this little. If you're skiing for like a promotion, like really find out like what it is that what what is it the my boss is expecting to see from me? Do that, like from from the other side of it, right, when I'm promoting people, I expect my expectations that you've already been doing the job for some period of time. Maybe it's three months, six months, bends, but like you've sort of proven that you're capable of doing the role and then the title and promotion comes as a consequence of you having done it. So like my advice is like, don't sit on your hands and like Oh, they'll be sorry when I'm gone. Like that type of mentality isn't great either. So it's definitely this communication and most managers, but especially in engineering, thinking product as well, we really leadership really takes pride in, especially early to start up, of like helping people launch and develop their careers. I don't think any one of US thinks that this is the last job somebody who's reporting to me is ever going to have, and I take more pride in the people who've gone on to great things that who work for me at some point. And...

...so I think it is a good conversation you can have with your with your leader, with leadership in general, with your boss, supervisor, and not to be afraid to have that conversation of you know, where's this going to go and maybe maybe this isn't the best time. I think we sort of even talked about a little bit in the episode. Like as the as the company grows and goes through these different stages, what's needed and WHO's the best fit changes over time and that should be a conversation you're able to have with your manager. So definitely that. And I've also talk to any you know, I've always had a mentor in my life, someone who's a couple, maybe two or three stages down the road from me WHO's helped me. And one of the mentors or two of the mentors that I've found most help for ones who actually didn't have engineering at all. They were they were one was a product person, was a marketing person, but they were able to give me so much more insight and depth because they had this sort of like outside perspective. So don't just, you know, look for mentors of like, Oh, another engineer and I'm going to hitch my wagon to that person. Like think outside of that and look until other parts of the organization as well. The other thing I'd add him is I think over my career, my my goal, I never would have known what my goals were going to be like. They evolved right it's a process of discovery right, that you kind of go through and you kind of have a sense for where you're going, but that starts to get clear over time and the only way to know is to Frankie's point, make some bets, you know. And so the other thing is I think I obsessed too much over my goals earlier, whereas I probably should have just, you know, thought about it, you know, said some goals and then reevaluate in the quarter or six months and adapts right, and try some things and not worry too much about it. Right. Is it making me better? Is it given me some new experiences? Great, let's go for it and then let's just adjust. So that's the the other thing that I think I've learned along the way. It's good points, like like when somebody asks you, like so, what's your you know, what's the Five Year Plan? You know, I'm like, I'm just trying to see tomorrow and I'm trying to see the yeah, I've got like the year, I got a year, maybe a year goal here that I want to hit. But we start talking like three years, five years, I mean there's so much that changes when you're in such a fluid environment and especially in the crazy ass world that we live in and you never know what what's going to impact how business is done. And then your goal just got flipped on its head. So it's like yeah, it's being flexible with that is important. Yeah, my personal like goal, right, all of my personal career goals sound something like I would like to be able to say yes to the right thing when it pops up like that. And if you can do that and make sure give you give you a future self the ability to make decisions. You don't have to make them all for yourself right now. Yeah, that's good. We didn't know there was going to be a global pandemic years ago now, right, and then it hit us and that changed it a lot, right, and hopefully if five years from now there's no more pandemic, but also we don't know if that's true. So that's your future self up for success. That's a good point. Good stuff. Yeah, I think you know. Unless there's anything else that you all want to talk on with, you have a few more minutes, but I mean otherwise I think we covered quite a bit. I mean, like I mentioned, this is this is a good topic that I think you know. We just have a miniseries on and I'd also love to see it from, you know, like series be to series see or even beyond this, because there's a lot to unpackage here and, you know, I think what's really exciting is, like you know, seed a. We work a lot in that space and I think it's one of the most dynamic changes because and it's one of the most high risk, right. So you're going to get a lot more crazy shit happening, some good stories, its bit Oh shit stories. But yeah, there's a whole other there's a whole other realm of stages that have very different problems and different perspectives. So I've see US building on this one and bringing folks in that can give dead some light from a different angle. Yeah, I'm just curious on your guys. Just take it. It's always seemed to me like there's the seed stage, then there's kind of a to see...

...and then their c plus, like a and B feel very much a continuation of the same thing. Like in a many ways you're almost guaranteed to get a b unless something at least in this market, unless something catastrophic happens. It seems like those are like the three phases that I've had ended up by do you guys see the same, same thing, or do you see something different? No, I'd agree. Actually, as as Tim was even talking, I was sort of thinking, like yeah, it's sort of like there's seed to a and then aid to see C, plus, plus, I don't know. There's this like sometimes there's see, you know that put, there's this shirt. Then there's this point where, right, there's hypergrowth or whatever you want to talk, but there's this this, you know, a and being I'm curious. You know, I think frank you probably has some pretty good experience there as well and seeing it. Yeah, I mean I think even right it is considering itself a start up. Then they just announced like series of or something like. Come on, I sort of break it up into do you have product, market it, which is your pre series a, and then like, okay, can I cuss on the show? Like likes, like okay, don't fuck that up. Right, you have a serious it, just don't fuck it up. And then you get to a point where you have so much money. Right at the place I'm at, the company that I might right now, we've probably raised our last strong funding and you know, yeah, IPO is what we're looking at next, and that's a that's a very different ball game even from like your previous rounds of funding. But I think those are really the three phases, like get product market fit, don't screw it up, go public or, you know, put a slack and let's sales force or whoever bought them right. You know, either way lots of people get a big payout, which is great, but those are those are your phases. Yeah, I agree with that. Yeah, yeah, won't. From a recruiting perspective, and we look at a lot of things in terms of, you know, when there's there a certain departments created, like, for example, like we roll out a different packages that cater to you know, see to be and then when you're at sea and beyond, it's you've got a full out recruiting team in place. We just kind of serve as a supplement, you know, versus like in those early stages, like we are your standalone like department, because you have nothing in place. And so those are very different, you know, request that they're looking for. You know, we need a system stood up and you know, we need market research and we need all these things beyond just we need can it as we need a pipeline we've got. We got folks in on the inside that can handle all the other stuff they like from the services perspective. Yeah, we break that up between like seed to be and then the and C plus. That's interesting, good stuff. Well, I guess for for the listeners, like anywhere on social that guests can find you all. Yeah, I write frequently on Linkedin, so folks are welcome to follow me there. Josh town one as my handler. I'm also on Linkedin. I'm pretty active on twitter, although I'm not always talking about Pech but she's been finally at Frankie is frank as I'm corny like that. Awesome, perfect, awesome little super grateful for you all to come and spend some time with this and this is a great a great topic, and you know it's going to definitely Pique the interest of a lot of our listeners. So appreciate y'all. Yeah, thanks so much for joining a thank goving me.

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