Why Experience Is the Least Important Trait for Tech Teams

April 21, 2016 - 3 minutes read

mobile app startup team

Building a team is no easy feat, especially for a scrappy startup with short industry traction and limited funding. Even at big companies like Facebook, hiring takes up an enormous part of leadership’s time. The reason for this is simple: startups are an emotional rollercoaster for early team members, so it’s critical that they are fully invested in the company and ready to put in the long hours it takes to build a mobile app company from scratch.

With that in mind, the qualities successful iPhone app developers look for in potential employees are quite different from those at regular companies — and the most striking difference is how relatively unimportant career experience is to a team member’s value. Time and time again, rookie techies with little more than a sense of hustle and willingness to adapt rise through the ranks and drag their companies to the finish line. Meanwhile, bureaucratic tech startups weighted down with opinionated middle management and change-averse business professionals find a hard time competing in the mobile marketplace.

The reason for that is also surprisingly simple: tech changes constantly, and the moving parts needed to drive success in the Apple App Store and Google Play don’t wait around for “meetings about meetings.” Therefore, the best team members for Boston iPhone app developers are those who work well together, believe in the company, and are willing to learn fast enough to keep up with the app economy.

The best startup employees are able to learn and change just as quickly as the mobile marketplace.

Drift CEO David Cancel wrote on Medium that experience makes up only 5% of his decision to hire a person. The biggest factor? Cultural fit, at a whopping 45%. Drift’s story isn’t unique, and the Silicon Valley stereotype about close-knit teams that work and play in the same circles attest to its value.

While it’s important that prospective employees have enough experience to perform their job, we encourage early-stage startups to look past the stars on the resume to examine the core personality traits of interviewees. Do they have hustle? Do they approach problems as learning experiences, even outside their area of expertise?

If so, consider taking the risk — after all, they’re taking a risk committing their heart and soul to a risk-heavy tech startup, and their success depends on your company’s ability to thrive.

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