on finding early technical talent
Given early stage teams ought to gravitate towards hires that have a bias towards action and can follow through independently you’re often seeking hybrid specialists or generalist engineers. In the early inning there is richer emphasis on identifying product market fit and little to do with how scalable and collaborative you can work with others in the same codebase.
You need experienced but often under appreciated talent; experienced
here doesn’t necessarily mean those who have traditional backgrounds but rather those who have committed to the trail and error of scoping and solving problems that encompass technical roadblocks.
It takes a fair amount of time-exposure to get comfortable with building online. In addition to learning fundamentals of client side, server side paradigms or mobile native workflows, you’re struggling with the unapologetically strict languages, new tools and frameworks that bring an added layer of defaults and opinions and all the auxiliary tools for collaboration including reusable libraries, familiarity with APIs, version control and package managers. This doesn’t even cover best practices that can only be practices or learnt from comparing against failed experiments.
Finding core specialists through open source. With the exception of building a core technology where the innovation is on the lowest levels of the stack i.e first version of blockchains or browser APIs, most applications are solving customer problems and often rely on advancements in core technology and/or major shifts in human behavior. Startups often employ reusable open source technologies to test out initial experiments until they are large enough and decide to improve the existing OSS systems or bring them in house entirely.
Figma built designer tools on advancements in webGL and CRDTs that made their browser-first approach possible. In fact, the early version of the user experience was pioneered by Sketch that targeted interface designers. Searching social coding sites such as Github or Gitlab for webGL enthusiasts and core contributors is a potential avenue.
Finding enthusiasts with experience but are ramping up on learning new stacks and frameworks. Paid meetups, hackathon and dedicated slack and discord channels are often good sources and often have a dedicated #hiring or #jobs channel. Note: The signal to noise ratio in free communities is often very high so I typically discourage spending time where talent typically doesn’t have enough experience to build complete products.
As an specialist frontend engineer here are a list of communities I can recommend:
Vercel discussions with a focus on NextJs and frontend technologies.
FramerX discord and dedicated Webflow experts are tools based communities or services to find experts in low code with a focus on marketing and content heavy sites.
For building type-safe APIs
Spline discord for finding artists and web creators building 3d sites