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Top 5 Challenges in Building a Start-up Engineering Team

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As CEO of a start-up medical device company in search of engineering and development talent, it’s important to keep in mind some of the time and money challenges you may face when hiring and building your team:

  • Convincing your first-pick hire to leave a job he or she already has.
  • Finding the “right” staff, not simply the “available” staff.
  • Resourcing the dozen or more roles you’ll need filled with salary for just a few full time positions.
  • Preparing and outfitting office and lab space to accommodate the precision equipment necessary for medical device product development.
  • Spending precious development time fostering team unity, ensuring everyone understands each others strengths and weaknesses, and clearly defining ownership and responsibilities.

Regarding the initial hires, consider these questions: How much security can you promise your new team members? How long can you convince them they will have a job? What can you use to entice them to join? Stock options? Signing bonuses? Enhanced titles?

These can be difficult questions to answer for a start-up company. If your goal is acquisition, then the team members are likely looking at short-term employment (and know it). And short-term employees are often not as dedicated as those who know the job will be there for the long haul.

Also, your funding typically will restrict you to hiring just a few specialized full-time positions, when what you really need are a wide variety of positions part-time and/or very short-term. This means you will likely end up outsourcing or contracting various parts of your development plan, which can create project management challenges that you will need to take into account.

When you are starting up an engineering team to work on your medical device development project, there are many such details to keep in mind. The creation and implementation of your medical device product development plan is critical, and having a team that operates like a well-oiled machine will save you time and money… and may even save the project itself.

Eric Johnson & Phil Burke