when you first When you start a startup, you are simply trying to create and sell a product. The first group of engineers have an “all hands on deck” mentality and will do their best to bring the product to life. But as your business grows and needs to change, that mindset isn’t viable, especially when you bring more people with you.
As you add more talent, you need to organize your engineering team into more logical groups. This means more defined roles, empowering them to make individuals and teams responsible for specific parts of the product. How well you handle the transition from a systematically formed team to a more purposefully organized and efficient machine will determine the success of your business.
Plaid CTO Jean-Denis Greuze, whose company develops banking APIs, faced such a transition when it came out in 2017. The company was in the midst of a Series A funding round and about 20 engineers were still trying to figure out their way to getting the product to market.
Since his arrival, the engineering team has grown to 350 people and the company’s valuation has risen to $13.4 billion. The meticulous design and organization of the engineering team has been a big part of this success, especially with regard to the professional construction tools designed for developers.
How did a growing company like Plaid grow its engineering team 17.5x in four years? As well as Keep everything in good condition? We spoke to Grease to get some answers.
it’s all about planning
When Grease joined the company as it was nearing the end of its A-series maturity, design was organized in a more general way, catering to less experienced customers where needed. And he realized that while it works in the short term, it’s not entirely sustainable.
“If we have a major product requirement for a group of clients, we just take a few engineers – not randomly, but with the right skills – and let them work on that project until it’s completed. And then they come back to it. Normal pool,” he explained.
After six to twelve months at the company, the team had grown to over 30 engineers, and Grease realized that the company would soon have to take a different approach.
The solution was to split the engineers into more specialized teams, but he warned that he wasn’t the only one planning these changes. Before doing anything, Grease met with both working founders and engineers to discuss the new way of doing things, and found that most people came to the same conclusions as he did.