As part of a podcast series on fast paced companies I recently sat down with David Wicks to chat about the way we’ve scaled Paddle, and in particular our engineering team, to become the #1 fastest growing software businesses in the Deloitte Fast 50.
A previous Deloitte Fast 50 winner himself, David has over 26 years of commercial software engineering experience, and is writing a book on the recipes and practices behind the success of fast growing tech businesses.
We talked about Paddle’s early days, our mistakes, hiring and retaining the best talent (even when no one has heard of you yet), building relationships with customers, and the balance between clean code and fast growth. Here are some of the highlights from our discussions:
Clean Code vs Messy Growth
Should you build a prototype that you throw away and rebuild, or focus on building highly scalable microservice infrastructure from day 1? Many startups face that question, and it’s a tricky balance to get right.
My view is that you should focus on doing whatever you need to do to get to the next stage. If you grow, you will be able to hire people and spend time on long-lasting architecture, and benefit from the feedback from customers much faster. If you don’t grow, you’ll lose so much time that it’s not worth the trade-off. Sure, you end up a bit monolithic in places but it’s a price worth paying - as long as you minimize the accumulation of technical debt along the way.
Hiring Good Engineers
Should you use contractors, or lower the bar on your expectations when the job market is highly competitive and you have a limited early-stage budget?
We’ve had some success with contractors, in particular convincing them to join us for the long term. It’s really important for a fast growing company to have great people who believe in the vision and mission of the company, rather than just be there for a paycheque. We try and focus on full time employees that will join us on the Paddle journey, that will love working here, and that will make a big impact. It’s OK if sometimes it takes months to hire someone in a key role: lowering the quality bar is much worse in the long term as it’s a downward cycle once you start, even though it’s painful to not fill the position in the short term.