Growing Your Startup Tech Product Team

Thinking about stages of hiring/organizing Product Development team in a StartUp, from 0 up to maybe 20 product people (meaning all product-tech, design, marketing).

cf CTO, CPO, COO, VP Engineering, VP Product, Product Manager, Project Manager, Program Manager, CoFounder, Founding Team, Product Team....

Artificial Game Rules I'm focusing on here:

The Startup Growth Stages are roughly:

Scenarios for the first 2-3 people, BootStrapping:

  • I think your Founding Team, framed as the people with roughly equal big chunks of Employee Equity and power, should be only 1-2: the Hacker and/or the Hustler.
  • If the 2 of you had/developed the idea together, and are likely to have the same risk profile, etc. etc. etc. then being equal-equity CoFounder-s make sense. Mark Suster notes how rare this really is. So in most cases, I agree that his model of having a single true Key Founder who "pays" his CoFounder with significant-but-not-equal equity (and power) makes sense.
  • The Key Founder might not be the person who "had" the original idea, if the other person had and will-have more to do with turning the napkin into a business.
  • If the Hustler is the Key Founder:
    • He owns (by "owns" I mean he's ultimately responsible, and the lion's share of it):
      • keeping the Lean Canvas coherent
      • Customer Interview-s
      • sales/marketing planning/execution (including writing copy on-site and in other materials)
      • getting beta users
      • raising OPM.
        • note how Venture Capital model of raising multiple rounds can turn this into a permanent full-time job.
    • His non-equal Hacker partner will be responsible for product planning and development:
      • making sure the Lean Canvas is practical (executable with slowly-increasing resources)
      • creating/refining/defending Product Roadmap
      • building the MVP himself
      • possibly hiring part-time designer to get things a notch above BootStrap-CSS.
      • creating process/system for turning assumptions into experiments, running experiments, tracking results, updating Lean Canvas...
      • This person's title should be Chief Product Officer.
        • I used to prefer Chief Technology Officer, but now I think that's wrong, because this is probably not the deepest-techie of the eventual organization, but rather someone who hits the sweet spot of fitting the market strategy/vision to the realities of execution.
        • He's at high-risk of getting demoted or canned before Liquidity Event, thus needs some sort of compensation (add a year of vesting if pushed out?)
  • If the Hacker is the Key Founder:

Once raise Seed Capital:

Once raise Series A:

Alternative path for start through Series A

Once raise Series B:

At numEmp=40:

Feb'2020: I know longer agree with that structure above, because

  • each two-pizza team should include QA and Designer within it; if total size=8, that makes 5 devs
    • so maybe 3-4 teams of that
  • I don't want them reporting to a VP-Engineering.
    • Maybe a Dir-Product who has a strong Engineering background?
    • or maybe the PMs report directly to the CPO, and each team has a very-senior-dev (most-senior of which is Chief Architect)

So updated numEmp=44:

My Product Development Process.

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