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Setting Up a Dev Shop: A Simple 8 Step Guide

Setting up the dev shop at a startup is really hard. As the technical leader of the shop, it feels overwhelming. As the non-technical leader, it's scary because you have no idea if things are being done "right".
I will show you that it doesn't have to be that way. I've setup the dev shop at several startups, and there is a simple, obvious and sane way to get the job done. It's 8 steps (with a 9th bonus step!) and when you see it you'll say, "gosh, that is so easy...I can't wait to take that back home!"
To be clear, this isn't fluffy pontification about "best practices": these are the actual steps I've followed in the past, and if I ever setup another dev shop, I'll use them again in the future.
Also, my slides will have lots of LOLcats because I work at Cheezburger, so there's that too!

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. Q: "Hi, my name is Joe. I'm a developer, and just got a job at a startup. They want me to hire more devs and get the team going. I feel like I'm making this up as I go along, and that I'm going to fail. Can you help me out?" A: Absolutely! I'm going to help you cut through the noise with a plan. Not only will I tell you where to start, but I will also give you a simple plan that keeps you pointed in the right direction.
  2. Q: "Hi, my name is Sally. I just raised a small angel round and hired a guy named Joe to be my lead developer. I asked him to hire a few devs and start developing our product, and launch it. I have no idea how to manage him because I'm not technical. Help!" A: Sally, there are 8 parts to building a good dev team. Let me tell you what they are, so you can ask if those pieces in place. If so, then you're in good hands. If not, then you know exactly what objectives to manage him toward.
  3. Q: "I just got a job as the dev lead for a small startup. Things are sort of a mess here...there are lots of problems that need fixing. Which things should I focus on first?" A: I have a 8-step plan for starting a dev shop. The neat thing about the plan is that when you need to fix an existing team, all you need to do is work the plan backwards. Let me show you how to do it.
  4. Q: "All my boss wants me to do is ship features, and we never get enough time to do the stuff that any good developer knows needs to be done. My boss isn't technical, so everything I say falls on deaf ears. What should I do?" A: Your boss needs to see how those "developer things" will help him achieve his business goals. To him, any single project (such as, "setup backups") just seems like noise. Let me give you a framework that shows how these things deliver business value.
  5. Q: "How do we choose which tools and systems to use? What do you use at Cheezburger?" A: We use a lot of different tools and systems, but each serves a different purpose. The key to choosing the right tools is knowing why you're using them. I'll tell you what we use, but I'll also explain the purpose for why we use them.



Scott Porad, CTO, Cheezburger

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