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Starting Culture Matters

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July 24, 2017
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Equipped with what I read in books and prior experience from a handful of failed businesses, I started my first tech venture in 2014. I could envision the endpoint but the tactics required to get there weren’t so clear. I decided to go forward anyway.The first step was to build the team to create our app. I was in a mad rush to put one together. I went to meetups every night in the Bay Area, looking for developers and trying to gain a cursory understanding of the technologies we would need. It took me 4 months to find a CTO and 6 months to find our first iOS developer.We went through a lot during that time and it was a grind. We ran on fumes, going month to month keeping afloat. I was worrying about things like driving team members around, getting ahold of them to come to work, and even finding where to house them for the night. I felt like I spent more time putting out fires and worrying about petty problems than properly developing the app. Overall I’m at fault because this is the team I drafted.In the end, our startup failed. There were multiple reasons. Out of money, lack of skillsets, lack of product-market fit, loss of motivation, fundamental disagreements. These were typical startup problems, but they stemmed from my rush to piece everything together and ensuing disregard for fit.

Time is a luxury that startups do not have. Looking back, I could have saved months and tens of thousands in the process by outsourcing the development of Limelight. With this extra time I would have been able to focus on further defining our company culture, hiring to those values, and getting traction for our product.Taking this lesson to heart, I saw the need in the market to take the pain out of building a MVP. I started Ronin Dev with the main goal of providing founders with a team that can create their minimum viable product the right way without all the difficulties that I experienced.I’m happy to say that the members of Ronin Dev share the same values. We take pride in our long hours and have monthly outings to build camaraderie. We’ve went to the shooting range, hiked Mt Diablo, and gone crabbing in the Bay. The agency is doing well and in the past month placed 1st in hackathons at Docusign and Facebook. This happened because we knew what we wanted to build and hired exactly to that. There is no magic bullet; building a team takes time. Get your product built and allocate the gained time to hiring the best cultural fit.

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