Rickshaw tech advising: Why the software engineer needs to be your mentor

Written by Ian Sharp PhD on April 22nd, 2020

You are listening to The Good Doctor Sharp on DoctorsInTech.com

And I hereby coin the phrase "rickshaw tech advising". It's something I see a lot in early stage startups.

If you don't know what a rickshaw is, it's a chair on two wheels with a pole sticking out the front. Someone sits on the chair and someone stands out in front by the pole. The person standing by the pole pulls the person sitting inside where they want to go. A rickshaw is what Indiana Jones rams his car into in the beginning of the Temple of Doom in the beginning car chase scene.

I've drawn out two scenarios. The first scenario shows how non-technical-tech-entrepreneurs envision themselves - sitting on a Rickshaw, and what happens when they get what they ask for.

The next scenario depicts what happens when the technical software engineer, helping the non-technical-tech-founder, refuses to give what is asked for and instead gives what is needed. The software engineer is mentoring the non-technical-tech entrepreneur.

This is the right strategy to use. It's based on merit in the context of decision making. If there's any doubt in your mind, know that I've used this strategy to help a software company to get acquired by a unicorn valued at 1.5 billion USD.

All I can say is Ray Dalio was right. Meritocracy is in and it's what matters. If you have no experience writing software - for your own good, please don't try to convince anyone they should listen to your advice on "how" to write software or even what should be built.

If the group of people you interact with don't understand the concept of "meritocracy" yet, you run the very real risk of actually being listening to you - and guiding everyone down a path of self destruction.

This is The Good Doctor Sharp signing off. Read my blogs here for more advice on how to create and sell software companies.


Ian Sharp PhD

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