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Managing Startups: Best Blog Posts by Thomas Eisenmann

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Chapter 50. Startups: Stop Trying to Hire Ninja-Rockstar Engineers

Hiring technical talent is often cited as one of the most difficult parts of scaling a startup. Great companies are built by great teams, so naturally, when it comes to technical talent, companies are competing harder than ever to entice the best of the best. The rationale you’ll typically hear is along the lines of “a great developer is 10x as productive as a mediocre one.” That might be true, but it is an impractical startup hiring strategy.

While companies fight tooth and nail over engineers with MIT or Stanford degrees with years of experience, as CTO of Designer Pages, my best hires were consistently entry-level developers that I developed on the job. Some companies, like Zendesk and General Things, have already realized this and are working with schools like Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco, the Flatiron school in New York (of which I’m a cofounder), and Code Academy in Chicago to hire their newly minted web development graduates. Aside from the fact that they’re significantly easier to attract, there are tremendous benefits to the company.

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These benefits include:

Cost

Starting salaries for senior developers have skyrocketed in the past few years. The average starting salary for a senior Ruby developer has climbed to $94,000 ($107,000 in Silicon Valley). Compare that with the average salary for a junior ...

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