Minimize Technical Complexity in a Pre-Revenue Startup

Early on in a startup, especially a pre-revenue one, it’s super easy to add technical complexity to the product since there’s a clean slate. With no existing users and no lock-in, there’s nothing slowing the engineering team down from incorporating a variety of programming languages, best-of-breed open source components, and more. My advice: minimize technical complexity and moving parts as much as possible, even while sacrificing elegance to solve challenging problems.

Here are a few reasons to minimize technical complexity in a pre-revenue startup:

  • With a limited engineering team it’s important to keep things simple so that everyone on the team can substitute for anyone else (once the team grows having more specialization works well)
  • Complexity is much harder to take out than add in, so start simple, even if it isn’t elegant
  • Getting something working that customers love is much more important in the early days than having the most scalable back-end
  • More moving parts and different types of systems create more complexity for sys admin work, especially upgrades and on-going maintenance

Some technical complexity is unavoidable, but whenever possible, it should be minimized. Keep things simple, move fast, and stay close to the customer.

What else? What are your thoughts on minimizing technical complexity in a pre-revenue startup?

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