I’m available for consulting contracts now. My main focus areas are mobile app development and electronics design, but I can also help with building your engineering team. After many years in leadership roles in software startups, I know what makes a good team great, and how to foster the kind of culture that lets every team member thrive.

My extensive experience in the world of tech startups is pretty unique: I have worked for startups’ engineering teams at all levels from junior engineer to architect to CTO, at all stages of a company’s growth from tiny to massive. If you’re starting a tech company, building your first engineering team can be daunting even if you yourself are an experienced engineer. That’s why I offer my services, to share my knowledge and experience to other entrepreneurs so they can get their company and their product off to a great start.

From Tiny to Big

Several years ago, I joined a tiny startup called Frederick with a modest automated marketing product intended for appointment-based businesses like salons and spas. From my position as one of only two senior engineers on staff, I was able to grow the team many times over as we grew aggressively and were acquired by another similar product company, Booker, then by MINDBODY, at the time a publicly-traded company.

By the time I left the company, after a tenure that included building complex systems that now lie at the heart of MINDBODY’s product, I looked around and saw that I had interviewed over 2/3 of the engineers present at the San Francisco office. I am immensely proud of the team and the culture I helped build there, and how even as we got swallowed by bigger and bigger fish, our once humble team still felt like that scrappy little startup we began as.

Hiring for the Skills that Matter

I know that what makes an engineer work well or not on a team is more than just their skills. Engineers aren’t interchangeable, and each one has strengths and opportunities for growth that are completely unique to them. Most companies evaluate their potential engineering hires mostly on their skills, which usually means solving some inane programming problem they could’ve just looked up on the Internet right before the interview. Culture is an afterthought. I like to take a different approach: culture-first. My thought is that you can teach any decent engineer to engineer better, but you can’t teach disposition.

Learning From Failure

Any truly successful person must know that the path to success includes the failures that are inevitable along the way. We can learn much more from our failures than from our successes, and my career of working in high-risk-high-reward startup culture has given me several opportunities to contemplate failure, both others’ and my own, and I’ve learned tremendously from these experiences. I’ve seen what it takes to make an engineering team succeed, and what it takes for them to fail, lessons I can put to good use on your team.

October 21, 2022