Consulting with KBall
Booting up your engineering team is hard. The things you're looking for are constantly changing. One moment you need someone spinning up servers and designing database schema, the next you need a front-end engineer who knows their way around React, and gosh it would sure be helpful to have some job descriptions written so you can hire those folks.
If you're struggling with this, I can help.
Human Duct Tape for your Engineering Organization
Many consultants like to specialize in a technology area or role, but I specialize in company phase: Early. Pre-seed, seed, and series A startups only. And for those early stage companies, you need someone who can jump into anything. I can offer value in three major areas: engineering leadership, engineering org-building, and engineering execution.
*Duct Tape meaning swift, strong, and flexible solutions to any problem
Like a fractional CTO, I can help you with defining your architecture, establish early engineering practices, and lead your engineers. I've done this both for my own companies and as a consultant, and love working on the defining architectural choices that set a product up for success. I also love coaching & mentoring both developers and engineering leaders, and establishing the practices that lead to reliable delivery. However, unlike most fractional CTOs, I'm just as excited to get into the code.
Engineering Org Building
A key challenge of a startup is building out the team that will build the product at the same time you're still figuring out what that product is. Writing job descriptions, running effective interviews, and setting up onboarding materials are all core fundamentals that will let your team scale, but also often neglected in the rush to product-market fit. I can pick these engineering operational pieces up, so that you can stay focused on the product vision that makes your business unique.
Sometimes you just need another set of hands, and I'm perfectly happy to dive into development. Having worked everywhere from a super-computing startup to a design agency, my experience is primarily web stack (if your core product is a Mobile App, I'm not your guy), but I can help you with everything from setting up your first production environment to database design all the way to crafting your UIs and user journeys.
Hi! I'm Kevin Ball, also known as KBall, and I've been working in the tech industry since 2004.
I'm a two-time startup CTO, experienced software engineer, and engineering manager who loves the early, 0-1 phase of product and team development.
What I offer
I'm available as a consultant in this 'Human Duct Tape' role, filling in whatever engineering and engineering leadership needs you have as you work to staff out your permanent engineering team.
I work with one company at a time, on a month-to-month basis. Working month-to-month aligns my incentives with yours, pushing me to deliver enough value each month that renewing is a no-brainer.
I don't like counting hours, and you probably don't either. My standard fee is $15,000 a month, which is roughly equivalent to a fully loaded mid level software engineer. If there’s ever a month where you don’t get well more than a mid-level engineer's worth of value from me, we should end our engagement.
Who Shouldn't Work With Me
Choosing who to work with is much like dating - it is more like matchmaking than stack ranking. Here's some of the attributes that would make me not a good match for you and your company.
- You're only looking for a full-time, long term hire. While I'm excited to help you find your permanent team, I'm not looking for a full time job, and I'm not interested in contract-to-hire positions. I like developing longer term relationships with people and clients, but I'm most interested right now in helping companies get from 0 to 1 in their product and engineering, and then moving on to help the next company.
- Your company wants to implement a "hustle and grind" culture. Startups absolutely involve hard work, are always intense, and will involve sprints of frenetic activity and long hours. However, I fundamentally believe that building an enduring company is a marathon, not a race, and I'm only interested in working with companies that wish to establish long-term, sustainable work environments with positive cultures and reasonable work/life balance.
- You're in the scaling or later stages of your company. There are engineering leaders who are excellent at and enjoy leading a company through the post-product-market-fit stages of a company. Who thrive on scaling up your team, processes, and product not from 0 to 1 but from 1 to 10 or 10 to 100. I am not them. I live and breath the 0-1 and 1-10 spaces, where ambiguity is everywhere, you're creating something from nothing, and order from chaos.
- You don't have any cash. There are folks who are willing to work for equity only, but that is not me. My rates are reasonable, and I'm happy to negotiate different levels of engagement to work with your budget, but I'm not interested in equity-only arrangements at this point.
Who Should Work With Me
Here’s some of the attributes that would make us a good fit.
- The things you're looking for are constantly changing. You’re early enough in your company that planning what needs to get done in your next sprint is hard enough, much less looking out 3 or 6 months. You need someone who is able to help adapt to the needs of the moment without taking a long time to get up to speed
- Your engineering team has a lot of skill gaps, and you’re struggling to get them filled. Maybe your founding team is all backend engineers, and you’re not sure how to hire for the frontend, or you’ve got a bunch of great executors but no one who can design your database and architect the problems. I can step in and fill the gap, while at the same time helping you find and hire the right long-term hires.
- You’re a business or product leader, and you’re struggling with your technical team. I’ve seen all of the many different ways that the relationship between engineering & other parts of a startup can go wrong, and I’d love to help you out. I can serve as an initial translator to help bridge communication gaps, and coach and facilitate conversations to create the longer-term alignment that will prevent those gaps from recurring.
- You’re preparing for a fundraise, and you’re not sure how to explain your technology. Whether it’s preparing decks, fine-tuning the pitch, or even just working out a clear story for how your technology is going to change the world, I can jump in and help you craft the right message. As an experienced speaker and writer, I love figuring out how to translate technical concepts into stories that will resonate with your target investors and market.
How to Get Started
The first step is to book a quick introductory conversation to get to know each other and share about your company and the engineering challenges you need addressed.
If it seems like there might be a good fit, we'll move to a somewhat longer call where we can break down a bit more the work to be done, how I will fit with your organization, and how we want to get started.
From there, we're just one docusign and an invoice away from starting work. Unlike with hiring a new employee, if you're in a rush we could get started within a day.