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Not too long ago I was speaking with a startup founder who told me he had been given the advice to look for inexperienced but “hungry” developers to build out his product. The theory was that they would be cheaper to hire, and more willing to do whatever it took to build a product. The founder came away with the impression that experienced developers are unjustifiably expensive. In addition, he came away thinking they only care about how much they’re going to get paid, and that they have no passion for their work.

Being a passionate, experienced developer that has had to waste time and money fixing poorly written software on more than one occasion, I obviously disagree, and had a lot to say.

Building a house

Let me ask you a question. Imagine hiring someone to build a multi-million dollar home that your future depended on. Would you go with someone who tells you they can do “house things”?  Do you believe that their desire to please you alone ensures the walls are square, and the building is up to code? Would you trust that the roof isn’t going to leak in the first year and ruin all your stuff?

Are the floors going to be level? What happens when company arrives and someone trips on a loose board?

Probably not…

Building software is complex. Even more so than building a house. Experience makes the difference between critical architecture mistakes and a product that can scale. Experience makes the difference between a user interface that increases your conversions, and one that drives your customers to your competitor. Experience minimizes the number of times you’re going to have to tweak, rework, or even completely redo an idea.

Consequently, experience saves you money. Reworking a major software system four times because you choose someone without experience who doesn’t know any better is going to cost you more than just hiring the experience in the first place. Ignore the important role experience plays in the quality of a product, and you will waste resources.

Don’t just take my word for it. I recently read a Y Combinator compilation entitled Advice for First Time Founders. and in it, were some very interesting mentions of this topic including:

…Trying to hire bright people with no experience and hoping they will “figure it out” will almost certainly slow you down and cause you a lot of heartache when those people don’t scale.

Don’t undervalue experience. We made a lot of easily avoidable mistakes early on because we thought paying more to get experienced people wasn’t worth it.

In addition to the above points, hunger to complete projects is not directly related with how fresh a job candidate is. It has to do with how passionate the developer is about software systems, and the ever changing tide of building software. I’ve been designing and building software professionally for almost 20 years and I’m still excited every time there is a new breakthrough that expands my scope of work and changes the way I look at the world. I am still just as motivated and excited to build out products because software still continues to change the world in very dramatic ways, and I love being a part of that.

Do yourself a favor. If you’re building a world changing product, don’t just settle with the first person that “knows PHP” because you can get them on the cheap. Find experienced and hungry developers that will lead the team and won’t waste any time getting your solution built right the first time. You’re going to save time and money and have a far superior product in the long run.


If you have projects that have gone a bit off the rails give us a shout for a free consultation and we’ll get them back on track

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