Having trouble getting the tech work done with your startup? Maybe it's time to hire some higher-level strategic help - time to hire a technical partner. We've made a handy checklist of the questions and answers you should (or shouldn't) be looking for when interviewing technical partners. This is also a small preview for our eBook that is packed with information about technical partners (types, evaluating, comparisons, etc).
How do you validate your work?
A good answer provides a lot of details on their process of insuring they have solid development practices and test code properly to ensure reliability. Thorough answers should cover automated testing and deployment strategies and won't promise too much or too little.
A bad answer is going to be short and nondescript about their process and testing measures. If they're nonchalant about their testing, then we suggest you give this one a pass. You don't want to have to keep contacting your developer to fix bugs which will slow down your process.
The app is down - how do you support us to get it back online?
A good answer will provide upfront understanding and expectations of you relationship with clear limits and provide options of either a Service Level Agreement or further consulting. An answer is bad if it's vague or isn't backed by a strategy. Dig further into their response if they are not providing clear distinctions between what they consider a bug (possibly included in a warranty) and what is a new feature (defined under a new contract). You want to learn these distinctions up front to not be surprised later.
How do you prioritize work?
The answer for this question can vary dramatically and all still be good answers. if the answer has a solid purpose, explanation, and reflects their strategy consistently across all aspects of the business relationship - then you have a solid answer and a trusted partner. You'll know if the answer is bad because it will be vague, inconsistent, and not really coherent.
For specific examples, check out our eBook where we take a deeper dive into what to expect with this question.
What does a successful project look like to you?
The good answer may or may not be directly aligned with your goals, but there will be a clear expectation for what success means to your partner and a clear strategy of impact of the work (figured out the trend yet? It's clarity!) Your red flag answer will pertain only to their work without considering the larger things at play (like gaining back you investments).
How do I value this company, idea, or product?
A good answer will sound like a seasoned developer who is familiar with working with early stage startups. There should be a clear outline with their limits on relationships and provide timeline expectations. Remember, there is no right or wrong strategy for an equity development partner to take - just know what kind of relationship you're looking for. If the developer doesn't know how to help you define value, then that should be a red flag. It's also important for the partner to differentiate between investor and contributor mindsets, so be sure to get clarity on this detail.
How are you different from other development partners?
This question will help you differentiate development companies. When combined with previous questions, you should have a decent understanding of the company's mindset when approaching problems and what they consider themselves best at. Remember, cost and proximity are the easiest barriers to overcome and don't come close to the barriers left by quality and speed.
Do you have any essential questions you ask in your technical partner interviews? Let us know in the comments!
Don't forget to download our second eBook Finding Your Technical Partner eBook. And if you haven't already, check out our first eBook on Minimal Viable Tips for the Non-Technical Startup Founder.