Don’t Waste Time Choosing a Programming Language for your Software Startup

A client recently asked me for some technology advice regarding his startup. His team is developing software for physiotherapy patients and was curious on whether switching from MySQL to a no-SQL database (MongoDB) would be advantageous. Their development team is intelligent and capable of learning, but had no previous experience with both Mongo and no-SQL databases. The advice I provided to them is the same that I have told countless startups asking such technology questions:

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n Early phase software startups should build their product using whatever language their team has the most experience with.n

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The early days of a software startup, or any startup, is about Customer Development. The focus should not be the technical or performance elements of the product. Instead, software founders must find potential customers, understand their needs, and get feedback on their product. Founders must then use this feedback to modify the product based on what customers tell them. The key to success is speed of iterations; the faster the technical team can modify the product, the quicker the team can engage customers so that even more feedback can be given on the changes.

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Using a language, framework, or libraries that the team is unfamiliar with means they will spend more time learning rather than building. In this situation, making a high number of pivots in a short period of time will be impossible. The impact will be costly delays in time-to-market, preventing the team from getting the customer feedback necessary for success.

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Once some initial sales/beta testers/traction is achieved, the team should only then discuss the chosen technology platform, looking at other relevant factors such as security, performance, reliability, scalability, and cost.

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So, stick to what you know best at first, and re-evaluate once you’ve captured some customers.

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