Micah’s post on Hackers and Hustlers is a compelling read for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Regarding hackers, he says:
A Hacker is someone who looks the problem, and solves it in a unique and special way. A Hacker finds the process of problem solving exciting and interesting, and spends the majority of their time looking at the problem in multiple ways, finding many potential solutions.
Often the Hacker is a coder, but not always the best coder you have on your team.
A hustlers on the other hand:
…is a relationship builder. They are passion people. They have the ability to articulate their passion clearly and in a way that gets other people equally passionate.
A true Hustler can get people using their product, or raise money, with little to no capital expenditure. Any one can run a Google Adwords campaign, or buy a billboard. Only a Hustler can get you to love their product in a way where you will speak passionately about it to your friends. A true Hustler is patient zero in a viral campaign.
The currently top-voted reply is by venture capitalist, Mark Suster, who sums it up brilliantly:
My ideal team is simple. Assuming 6 people:
1. 5 engineers
2. 1 CEO who doubles as head of product management
3. Nothing else
But obviously I am open to other configurations. The key important things are:
- strong tech DNA
- dominance of tech personnel relative to others
- strong product focus on CEO
I’m not sure how you read that, but I’m seeing a bias towards hacker. Yann Ngongang, the CEO of Guestmob, sees things differently. Based on Micah’s definintion, he’s seemingly leaning towards hustler:
Nowadays, especially for web & software startups, even saas, the risks are not engineering related, but rather community, virality, customer needs, channels: who needs what? which community is most passionate? about what feature? how do I capture these users’ attentions? how & how much to get paid?
Yann backs up his point with these salient examples:
Some illustrative examples:
- Quora would get more value from strong community managers than Java hackers
- fB/4sq/Twitter got more value upfront from people who understood communities, communication & social trends
- Mint got more value out of a slick UI and smart SEO than rock star engineers
- Salesforce.com got more value from a Benioff as a rebelious product visionary rather than rockstar engineer
- Groupon got more value out of Mason understanding communities building
My observation is that a startup needs to have an abundant share of both. I’ve seen several examples where startups will have a few talented hustlers an outsource the hacking or they’ll be a couple of hackers with no riff or carry a crowd. The former tends to waste money while the latter tends to waste time. Bottom line: know the role you play and find a partner who plays the other.