grow your team

As a startup, have you ever faced clients who question the capabilities of your team? We often get this question: You have less than 15 people on your team, are you sure you have enough manpower to deliver our mobile apps at good enough quality?

Our answer is that our CTO, Torin Nguyen, only hires the best engineers that we can. In software engineering, a talented or experienced developer is exponentially more productive than one who isn’t.

This concept can be hard to comprehend if one is not a developer and comes from outside the industry. But you can take Bill Gates’ words for it:

“A great lathe operator commands several times the wages of an average lathe operator, but a great writer of software code is worth 10,000 times the price of an average software writer.”

Everyone likes the glamour of having a big team and expanding the company quickly. However, from past experiences, we have personally seen many companies grow their headcount too quickly when they face resource constraints for a limited time, and struggle to pay their staff in lull periods. To end up in a predicament like these companies is extremely dangerous for the company’s cash flow and team culture.

Instead of focusing on just quickly growing our headcount whenever we face resource constraints, we invest heavily in productivity by looking at three core areas:


We spend time, effort and energy looking for the best talent. We do not look for the developer with the highest paper qualifications or the longest experience, but programmers who show the best talent, ability to think many steps ahead when it comes to programming, and has good discipline when it comes to planning and architecting their code.

Also Read: foodpanda CTO: Why autonomy is important for developing agile tech teams

At the same time, while most developers are only proficient in one or two programming languages, we have created a learning culture within the company where our developers constantly upgrade themselves over time.

This way, our team is highly robust and we only need a small number of developers to cover the full spectrum of work across multiple programming platforms required for each project.

This manpower capability chart sums it up best:

Robust capabilities across Originally US Developers

Selecting our next engineering hire often takes as long as six months to fully scout, identify and evaluate the best candidate. To this end, we have even established the Originally US Award for top-performing information systems students with local universities. This helps us stay in close contact with the latest talent pool.


Although our team is distributed across Singapore and Vietnam, we work as if we are all physically co-located since the founding of our company. This is because we fully make use of all cutting-edge communication tools available to us that helps make our teamwork, collaboration and processes as seamless as possible.

Having highly efficient production processes also helps us cut down on communication and collaboration overheads, which saves time, allowing our team to allocate more time on delivery.

Also Read: How to build a tech team, when you need to and why you should keep an eye out for interns

The co-founder of Netflix, Reed Hastings has this to say:

“I’ve also found having a lean workforce has side advantages. Managing people well is hard and takes a lot of effort. Managing mediocre-performing employees is harder and more time-consuming. By keeping our organisation small and our teams lean, each manager has fewer people to manage and can therefore do a better job at it.”


Our CTO also constantly explores and evaluates new collaboration and development tools that can further boost our productivity and help our team work better.


This is how we work.

So, the next time you are considering hiring another engineer, think carefully — are my systems and processes efficient and productive already? Is this just an unusually busy period or do I foresee this level of work to remain the same in the future?

Remember — It is always better to increase your company’s productivity to cope with the work before considering hiring another headcount.

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The post The danger of expanding too quickly and how you can keep your tech team artificially small appeared first on e27.

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