Martin Roth Speaks to the “Minimum Viable Product” Approach to Hiring a Developer

The following is an excerpt from Martin Roth’s blog post about hiring a developer. Martin co-founded Giftmeo with Michael Angle, a group gifting service that leverages social networks like Facebook and allows multiple users to combine individual funds to create a larger gift for a common friend. Giftmeo is a Launch Pad Ignition 2012 participant. He also curates Follow Martin on Twitter @themartinroth


This post is a response to “How to hire a programmer when you’re not a programmer” by Matt from 37Signals.

If starting a company is hard, starting a tech company without a technical co-founder is even harder. Such is the case with Giftmeo, my fledgling company that is taking over the gifting world by storm (in due time).  The most difficult part about our current situation is hiring a developer, a “hacker”.  The above article by 37Signals lays out some clutch items to look for when courting a potential developer.

1. How opinionated are they? Make sure he is passionate about something.

2. How much do they contribute to open source projects? Make sure he is using the tools necessary to fix bugs.

3. How much do they enjoy programming? Make sure he likes what he does.

4. Do they actually ship? Make sure he is a closer.

5. What have they mastered? Make sure he is a good closer.

6. How well do they communicate? Make sure he can easily explain difficult concepts.

Test Drive. Don’t jump in head first.  Get your feet wet by easing into the relationship through contract work.

Do it yourself? Learn to code. You run a tech company, for Christ’s sake.

This seems to be a relatively comprehensive guide to finding the right dev guy, but I would argue that the blog post overstates the business relationship with your developer, and understates the personal relationship with your developer.

Think about it, if this is THE guy for your company, you are going to be spending a tremendous amount of time together, most of which will be in high-pressure/high-stress situations.  At the very least, you should like your programmer’s personality.  Despite that it is primarily a business relationship, you should consider the fact that you will be forced to become friends, which is always easier when your personalities mesh (at least to some degree).

Considering the personal relationship between you and your developer, I suggest these couple of points in addition to the ones above. [Read more]