A talented tech team can have an outsized impact on a startup’s trajectory, especially in its early days.
So during Week Two of Surge, which took place in Bangalore, we had one main goal: to show founders what tech superpowers look like, then help them find a superstar of their own. We introduced the founders to some of India’s most seasoned startup CTOs to learn how they approach everything from designing products to scaling large engineering teams. Then we connected them with over 40 ambitious 10x engineers who are keen to get in at Ground Zero.
Our speaker list included 12 CTOs & CPOs from some of the region’s largest companies – including BYJU’S CTO Prakash Ramachandran, Druva Co-Founder & CTO Milind Borate, 1 mg Co-founder & CTO Gaurav Agarwal, Practo Co-Founder & CTO Abhinav Lal, Rivigo CTO Qasim Zaidi (who also served as CTO of Tokopedia) and Zomato Product Management Head Rahul Ganjoo – who talked about everything from the ideal PM org design to applying Brook’s Law to craft a lean product; and the importance of looking for engineers who can identify problems, not just those who can solve them.
Our CTO speakers also drilled down on how they attract and retain their own high-impact engineering teams. A couple of common themes emerged:
- Tier-one engineers are more than willing to exchange the security of big corporates for the excitement of solving big problems;
- When it comes to hiring and motivating top tech talent, a strong mission really matters.
True 10x engineers “are looking for meaning and impact,” noted Gaurav, 1mg’s Co-Founder and CTO. “They’re interested in the problems you are solving and the vision you have. If they can find a piece of your vision that they can own, that’s a huge motivator.”
Partway through the week, the matchmaking began.
Earlier this year, we set up the 10x Engineer initiative, which aims to connect the region’s rockstar tech talent with startups in Surge. Our tech & talent team has interviewed and accepted 200 engineers into 10xE; they invited 40 to meet Surge 01 founders at a networking event in Bangalore. The evening kicked off with founder pitches; quick 10-minute presentations to the engineers on their company, their vision and the problem they’re trying to solve.
By the time the networking session started, folks had taken a ton of notes – and there was a lot of love in the room. Almost everyone found somebody; in some cases, two or more.
One Southeast Asian founder, whose company is based in a smaller city, was bowled over to learn that a number of 10x engineers had set their sights on his startup, despite the location. “I had zero expectations of this, because of where we are,” he said. Eight engineers raised their hands; he’s already hired one and is looking at making a second offer.
Another founder, who urgently needs to hire one or two engineers to get from ‘beta’ to the go-to-market stage, was excited to learn that five were keen on the company. What’s more, one candidate had even run his own startup in the same sector and understood the unique regulatory challenges faced by the industry.
Conversations and interviews are still going on – but the progress is exciting. About 60% of Surge startups have made offers, and we expect the final number of offers from this session to reach at least 20. Three are talking to engineers who are currently tech leads for C-level roles. Four companies, notably, received inbound interest from more than 10 engineers. What’s more, at least four engineers have asked to do a trial engagement with a Surge startup to see if it’s a mutual fit, giving themselves a chance to get to know the founder, and company, better.
We were super psyched to see the Surge 01 founders digging deeper on how to iterate products and scale teams with our tech mentors and CTOs — and also getting a headstart on hiring strong engineers early in their journey.
Surge 01 founders will be expanding their teams in the coming months, and we’ve just opened up applications for Surge 02, which kicks off in September. Engineers who want to connect with Surge founders can find out more about the 10x Engineer initiative here.
Surge, meanwhile, takes our founders next to Beijing on May 20 and San Francisco on June 17. Follow the action on Instagram and Twitter!