Must-haves for the startup developer?

So remember how I said a few days ago that I’d just hit my year mark with my current employer? Well, I just resigned and took another job, coming in on what amounts to the ground floor of a really exciting startup that I’ll tell you more about when I can. It’s a risk, leaving an established firm for unproven ground, but the opportunity is too good to pass up, and I’m really looking forward to the work I’ll be doing.

After I called the founder and accepted the position, he asked me to let him know what kind of equipment I’ll be needing to work with… that got me thinking. I’m pretty sure he was talking about computer hardware, but that has been the least of my concerns. So, I’m going to be a little selfish tonight and ask you to help me brainstorm things that would be useful to the developers of a large project.

Here’s some of the stuff I’ve come up with (I’m leaving off obvious necessities like computers and chairs and desks and what have you, unless there is non-obvious logic behind them):

  1. A few whiteboards and dry erase markers. Enough real estate to brainstorm and do high-level design on.
  2. A digital camera. Nothing fancy, just something that can take pictures of the whiteboards in various states and preserve them for posterity.
  3. A rubber duck. The kind that kids play with at bathtime. Here’s why.
  4. A pingpong or foosball table. Startup hours are long, and stress can be high. Something to alleviate that (or even just frustration at a problem) when needed.
  5. A kitchen timer, for using the Pomodoro Technique.

I realize that some of these might seem silly or gimmicky, but I have personally been victim to some of the problems they are meant to solve (especially being halfway through asking a question of someone before figuring out the answer myself), and I’m willing to give it a try. And even if nobody ever asks the rubber duck a question out loud, it’s still a great conversation piece.

Like I said, I’d like your help in adding things to the list. We haven’t determined a technology stack yet, and we haven’t talked about process or methodology (although I’ve recently read and agree with some of the points mentioned here), so I’m really open to trying new things and seeing what works for the team. Comment here, drop me a line at djstobbe@gmail.com, or hit me up on Twitter. And, I thank you in advance.

One thought on “Must-haves for the startup developer?

  1. A good pair of earphones! The kind that is comfortable and you can bear having on your ears for hours. If possible, the kind that kills noise from the outside.

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