Before we unpack what a VPE does, it is essential to understand the different roles within engineering leadership. They are sticklers about managing unit tests, system tests and regression tests. Emphasize the company culture, perks, benefits, and anything else that makes your company amazing.} But I do have more insight into understanding your startup team. If you’ve outsourced this to a firm that has guaranteed that they know how to launch you more quickly I’d tell you that’s like trying to launch a movie but outsourcing the script to a focus group. I have much experience in this domain. They know when it’s OK to push hard for the team to hit a deadline even if it means yet another all-nighter or weekend. The terms “CTO” and “VP Engineering” have such stigmas associated with what they are that I’m sure some people will feel uncomfortable with the definitions I’ve put forward. And first and foremost a VP of Engineering is a people manager. For me the inflection point is usually when you have 5+ developers. Let them be perfectionists — this will serve you well. They still have the respect of their team because they’re technical by training. I don’t believe that one exists. As you have a 5–10 person startup you don’t need a lot of technology process management. Being an engineer working with a non-technical colleague, cofounder, or manager can be a challenging experience–they often don’t understand the true complexity of what’s being built. Or whether it’s a big data set problem and they’re familiar with Cassandra or Hadoop. VP Engineering. inside your organization who is setting the technology direction then I’m convinced you’ll never head for greatness. Many startups have never faced these challenges because they haven’t hit scale. They work on their own schedule and are often hard to manage. I think Mark Suster, startup founder turned Venture Capitalist (Upfront Ventures) does a great job of describing each of these roles: “first and foremost a VP of Engineering is a people manager” (Mark Suster, Want to know the difference between a CTO and a VP of Engineering?). VP’s of Engineering are essential to making sure the trains run on time. Let’s start with the basics. They care about the quality of what is build more than they care about end customers. They understand the different character types and which prefer carrot vs. stick. How Many Investors Should You Talk to in a VC Fund Raise? While both the CTO and VP of Engineering are both engineers and together will help set the “engineering culture” within your organization, the CTO is the technology visionary, the person who doesn’t mind getting into the weeds and going deep on the technology side. Or whether it’s a big data set problem and they’re familiar with Cassandra or Hadoop. What makes a great tech team? Still, I believe I’m offering an accurate representation of the ideal configuration of the main technology leaders. He or she will be an excellent recruiter, a great communicator, and a great issue resolver. He or she will be an architect, a thinker, a researcher, a tester and a tinkerer. Simple. Because more technology people probably read startup blogs I’m guessing this post will come under more scrutiny. Program Manager — This title almost sounds like a consultant’s job. Why Has Seed Investing Declined? As the CEO you can personally help manage deadlines and the Agile process. If you don’t have somebody. A CTO is ideally the strongest technologist in the organization. The VP of Engineering is also your primary interface to your head of product management and often the VP of Engineering is somebody you would drag in front of clients to win big deals. But as you company grows to 10–20 people you’ll want to consider adding “technology management” skills, which means a VP of Engineering. The CTO is often the technical co-founder if there is one (and you know I think there must be one). The VP of Engineering is the person who still has great technical chops but prefers not to be a coding monkey (that term is meant in the most endearing of ways). That’s right, a VP of Engineering is, at her core, a people manager, someone who doesn’t just have solid engineering chops but also knows how manage and motivate people. They may work strange hours such as 2am — noon. A few people have asked me to try and define the perfect startup organization chart. They’re up to date on the latest platform decisions whether it’s understanding Spring, Hibernate and Lucene. But barely. Once I transitioned into Director of Engineering, my sphere of influe… Engineering teams — feel free to attack! They don’t love documentation. Of course I’m generalizing. Every great tech startup needs one. They’re up to date on the latest platform decisions whether it’s understanding Spring, Hibernate and Lucene. I recently did a post for startups on understanding sales people. I know this will fall like a lead balloon to the many people who believe it is possible to have a [insert: startup incubator or technology accelerator or technology consultant or outsource firm] build your technology.
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