How a technical team can make or break your startup

It’s no secret that success evades most startups. In fact, a staggering 90% of startups fail, a figure that hangs ominously over the head of most founders as they try to rally their business to grow. 


But this high failure rate is more than a scary statistic; it could actually hold the clue to success. Because when you know why other startups tend to fail, you can plot your own path in the opposite direction – and it turns out, the stats show that many of the reasons new businesses fail can be traced back to problems with their technical team.

Why failure happens

While 18% of failed startups cite “team problems” as a direct cause of their failure, a further 40% blame “lack of product-market fit” and “tech problems”, both of which can be linked to the strength of the technical team used by any startup. The fact is that a founder’s energy and vision alone won’t drive his or her business to do amazing things; the right team is needed to bring that vision to life with their skill, expertise, and hard work.

Sometimes – in fact, many times – great ideas never reach their full potential simply because the execution is poor. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial in any software startup that the right technical team is pulled together – they’re the people who are going to build the solution or solutions that will take you where you want to go.

Choosing your team

OK, so once you’ve recognized the importance of having a good team, how do you actually go about finding the perfect agency? Firstly and most fundamentally, you need the people with the skills your startup is missing. This sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how many technical teams are missing the key skills needed by a specific startup, leading to poor product development.

Your team needs certain technical competencies, great design skills, and excellent project management, so make sure you’re looking for a mix of the right abilities and experience. You may find an agency that would be a great fit in some ways, but whose expertise is in an area you already have covered or simply don’t need. That’s a shame, but keep your focus on the skills you do need and appoint an agency accordingly.

Talking of that elusive “fit”, you should also be hiring your agency on the basis of attitude, personality, and vision. In order for your technical team members to perform at their maximum potential, they need to function well with each other and with you. So ask yourself: does this team share your mindset and goals? Are they able to bring the right energy and passion to the table? And crucially, do they share your vision, or can they at least understand it?

Talking the talk

This last point comes down to communication; your ability to convey your big idea to your agency and for them to really “get” it. It’s important that they have good communication skills, too – a lot of startups fall down because communication with their technical team is poor. Make sure you’re choosing an agency that prioritizes communicating with their clients – that means having the tough conversations as well as the fun ones.

You can usually get a good sense of how communicative an agency is when they’re pitching to you, but if you’re unsure, you should ask them directly: what are their processes around communicating with clients during the development journey? Then think hard about whether that process works for you. Being aligned in this way and others ensures you and your technical team will work together with maximum efficiency and success, creating a solution that really works in the way you envision.

Take a holistic approach

Aspects like communication and alignment may not feel as tangible or important as something as concrete as excellent design skills when it comes to building your product, but in the long run, it’s vital. Your agency must meet and exceed your requirements in every area because if just one cog fails, the whole machine stops, and that can lead to a collapsed project and a failed startup.

So those excellent design skills are important, but they’re not the only thing to consider. And it’s worth bearing in mind that while shiny portfolios can be tempting, they’re not enough for you to judge whether this is the technical team that’s going to take your startup to the next level.