Evaluating Culture Fit Before Skills Fit with Mark Piller of Backendless

Mark Piller came to the US as a refugee and while working a “real” job he devoted his nights and weekends to building software apps. His entrepreneur journey started in 2003 with a new year’s resolution and with a growing software product in hand, he left his day job and started his first software development firm.

Since then, the one-man software development firm has grown into a major player in the visual application development industry under the company name Backendless – a cloud-based application development platform that makes it easier for people to turn their ideas into real apps.

Mark originally tried growing his company through outsourced developers but ran into issues where the company culture and values were just not there. Developers would have no attachment to the company and would leave for another project that paid a dollar more per hour. This was the impetus for a change in the way Mark built his company with a focus on the cultural fit for his team before and even over a skill fit.

Key Takeaway: When it comes to growing your company, a focus on finding employees (or contractors) that fit and buy into your company culture is more important than specific skills. Skills can be taught, but the cultural fit cannot.

Lessons Learned:

Bootstrap if You Can – If possible, leverage your own resources thus leaving you and your company’s direction under your discretion.

Release Early – By waiting until a product (or service) is 100% perfect in your mind, you will miss out on valuable insights from your customers and most likely cost yourself more resources in the end in rework and redesign.

Listen to Your Customers – Look for every opportunity to solicit input and feedback from your customers.

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