Charles Hooper

Thoughts and projects from a site reliability engineer

Intro to Operations for Early Stage Startups

I’ve spent the last few years in a variety of roles for early stage tech startups. While in these roles, I’ve noticed a pattern: Early stage startups don’t give much thought to their operations. In particular, they typically don’t hire anyone specifically for that role because they are focused on building their product. In other words, all of their technical hires are for developers.

What tends to happen in my experience is that their developers soon become overwhelmed (especially after a growth spurt) and are unable to spend their time shipping code that’s going to improve their product or make their company money. Eventually, if they’re lucky, management catches onto this and hires their first systems or operations engineer.

Because I’ve had the opportunity to be first-hired systems engineer, what I’ve experienced is the effect of “working backwards” to undo a bunch of things that weren’t done following best practices while simultaneously moving things forward to improve them.

I decided to try to educate whoever would be willing to read this (hopefully early stage startups!) about some best practices that will not only save their future operations engineers some headache, but will also improve their business. Part of this education will happen in the form of one-on-one time with these startups. For example, I spent the last couple of days sitting in on office hours at a startup accelerator. The other part; however, will take place by writing “Intro to…” articles and publishing them to a variety of places, including this blog.

Specifically, the topics I’ve chosen to write about are:

Over the next week or so, I’ll write about each one of these topics and post them to this blog. I hope people find them helpful!