The hustler, hacker and hipster: The personality types every tech start-up needs

Hiring for your business means thinking about its longevity. Here are the three personalities you need in your tech start-up.

Growing your tech start-up can seem like an uphill struggle. Silicon Valley gurus often say that start-up founders experience only two emotions in the first few years of the start-up journey: euphoria and terror. Hiring for your start-up means thinking about its longevity. You need people who can enjoy the ride with you, as well as those who challenge your vision for the business to propel it even farther ahead.

When looking for your founding team, weed out people who exhibit :

  • A superiority complex
  • Insecurity
  • Impulse control

Ultimately, you need to find partners who are people you wouldn’t mind working for. If your founding team comprises of stellar managers you personally trust and respect, there’s little doubt they won’t be as inspirational to your wider team as you grow.

Here are the three main personality types that make up tech start-up success.

The Hustler

The hustler eats, sleeps and breathes the business model. This is the business savvy person who makes sure the company makes money, usually the CEO. The hustler builds the team, ignites their passion, manages projects, updates the business model, forms partnerships and guides the team along the journey, while creating and strengthening its culture. The hustler has a keen eye for numbers, such as financials, cost structure and user metrics, can speak to the long and short-term vision of the company, and can make investor pitches and tough decisions.

Personality traits:

  • Go-getter
  • Disciplined
  • Extroverted
  • Growth mindset
  • Networker

The Hacker

The hacker eats, sleeps and breathes code. This is the tech person who builds the actual product. Usually the chief technology officer, the hacker is the one who creates the algorithms, intellectual property and resulting technology that forms the building blocks of your business.The hacker is instrumental in choosing the coding environment and platform for the start-up to sustain growth. As an added bonus, if he or she can hustle—that is, get out and talk with customers—you’ve got it made.

Personality traits:

  • Analytical
  • Structured
  • Reliable
  • Focussed

The Hipster

The hipster eats, sleeps and breathes design. This is the designer that makes sure the product is delivering the best customer experience. The designer sets best practices in marketing, brand identity building, user experience, and the look and feel of the product. In most early-stage start-ups, the hipster is the copywriter as well.

Personality traits:

  • Creative
  • Good taste
  • Empathetic
  • Thoughtful
  • Minimalist

Senior management

Once you’re off the ground, getting your senior management team in place is the next big hurdle. Remember:

  • DO NOT hire from big companies (yet)
  • DO NOT hire solely based on the resume. Most times, candidates appear successful because they ride on the coattails of their previous high-profile company.
  • Hire for ownership. Is he/she willing to join you at a salary 30 per cent to 50 per cent less than what they’re currently on? If they aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves to make your company a success, chances are they won’t shy away from a lower starting salary and potential equity.
  • Hire for adaptability. Start-ups evolve quickly, so hire someone who can cope with, if not lead, change. Ideally, candidates should be able to roll with the punches and take on multiple roles if need be.  Ask if they have they done something out of the ordinary and what they learned from deviating from the norm.

The next 100

After your senior team’s in place, plan for the next 100. At this stage, the business process needs will become important.

  • Set processes and value systems at a company level
  • Hire based on these values
  • Create a company culture, based on what has organically evolved by this point
  • Establish clear performance management processes with rewards and recognitions

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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