Salmaan Ahmed is Accelerate Okanagan’s newest member of the Executive in Residence (EiR) team. Although he recently moved to Kelowna in January, Ahmed is no stranger to the startup industry. This Sudbury-raised EiR brings us years of experience both as a successful entrepreneur and mentor for Communitech in the burgeoning Waterloo region.
Before moving to the Okanagan, Ahmed spent the last few years as a program manager at Microsoft after the software giant acquired his company in 2014. The startup he co-founded, Inception Mobile, was created in 2012 to allow developers to port iOS apps to different mobile platforms. The business received a round of seed funding from Samsung Ventures in 2013, and within a year there was significant interest from Microsoft.
As a valued EiR, Ahmed has several catchphrases he uses to put everything in perspective. First: ”You know why most CEOs fail? Failure to *execute*, which is ironic because it’s right in their title.” In other words, execution is everything. And also: “It is true that you can’t tech your way out of business problems but it is equally true that you can’t business your way out of crappy tech”.
Ahmed recently presented his guiding principles for building and scaling a tech team at Communitech’s Fierce Founders Bootcamp. Here are some of the big-ticket items he covered:
1. You can not contract your problems away
Building a tech team is a hard yes. According to the BC Tech Associations most recent Tech Talent Report, worldwide competition for the best talent is fierce and intensifying. Contractors and junior developers are great eventually but, if you are serious about building something, you need players who can execute and pivot with you.
2. A shared vision makes everything easier
Start with basic questions like, “who is our customer?”, and “why do they want this product?” From there you can learn to think like the customer as a team and set goals to help you meet their needs.
3. Make people management a priority
People leave managers, not companies. The most important job you have is to earn the respect of the people you work with through not only your work but how you interact with others. Conversational equality and ostentatious listening are key.
In an exclusive interview with First Round Review, Instagram Cofounder and CTO Mike Krieger also acknowledged the challenges and importance of managing and growing a tech team.
“Just as your team of engineers will evolve, your leadership needs to mature, too” Krieger explains. ”At the beginning, your organization will likely be flat. Unnecessary management trappings would just compromise the openness and agility that are a small company’s greatest asset. Still, that doesn’t mean that founders can simply leave their early team to lead itself.”
For more tips and tricks on building a tech team, register to hear Salmaan present at Accelerate Okanagan on November 28.