Focus on Developer Experience

I recall a conversation I had with a sales person at the startup I used to work with in 2005. She said “We can talk to App development team, but they typically don’t have budgets. Real money is with Production Support team”. This has served me as a guideline in building products following that. I thought the closer we are to solving the production problems, the higher the chance of success. This was a good rule of thumb for few years, but the world has changed.

The new rules of success is that app development teams are the most important target. If your product does not impress a developer under an hour, it will likely be harder for you to build a business. This is not to say there aren’t products that are focused on production workload usage ( monitoring etc ).

Lately, the adoption pattern that’s looking more and more likely is:

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There is no guarantee that all products will traverse through this full cycle. But, products that have good developer experience seem to be progressing along this cycle.

Some of the common objections we hear about these developer driven products are:

  • Its not secure
  • It doesn’t scale
  • It doesn’t have enterprise usage
  • Its only good for dev/test use cases
  • Its not production ready
  • It doesn’t have x,y and z

The good news for startups is that these are not difficult problems. you can solve them by hiring right talent when timing is appropriate, you don’t need to solve them Day 1. But, if you do not focus on excellent developer experience from day 1, you will have a tough time succeeding.

This is my current hypothesis — do you guys agree/disagree/comments?

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