Al Tsang – StrongLoop

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Al Tsang is the CTO and a Co-Founder of StrongLoop, which connects mobile devices to enterprise infrastructure backend to leverage existing data and services.


Focus on execution. Ideas are great but idea overload can cripple an organization by clouding what priorities are and be distracting when you’re trying to execute. Have a process around ideation so that it doesn’t cause ripples or even waves of disturbance in your organization.


We’ve reorganized engineering to introduce an efficient structure. As a startup, you start very flat and everyone wears multiple hats. As you grow you have to be mindful of what the best allocation of human capital is to meet your objectives and when is the time to introduce process and structure morever at what level.


We’ve studied and listened to what the community wants. Look at deficiencies where we could provide a helping hand by providing resources. Resurrecting node-inspector is an example. We addressed its known shortcomings and improved upon it with the ideas that we read.


One technique we’ve used to attract talent is to construct a profile or persona for each hire in our organization and repeat this process after each and every hire. Each addition shapes the team differently in skillsets, interest, and even personality and culture. It’s like fitting together a puzzle piece by piece.


A best practice that keeps us productive is to continually try new ideas and refine our scrum product development. Tweaking and making small adjustments to how we go about planning for example can yield magnified results down the line of improving velocity or predictable delivery. Taking the feedback from a retrospective and distilling action items goes a long way.


We targeted the folks in the community who we knew were using Node.js. From there, we learned about their use cases, their challenges and what was important to them. The thread of commonality that runs across our customer base isn’t a coincidence. It took some due diligence and investigation to identify our customer and what they had in common to lead us to more facing those same challenges.


When you go for funding, have targets in mind in the VC community that have some level of understanding or expertise about your domain. Don’t just go after them by firm name.

Especially when the value and ideas you’re selling are abstract and often behind the scenes. In our case that’s not just software, it’s middleware software.


Hack that got us on the map: we created this thing called meetup-in-a-box. It allowed us to reach out to the community because folks in the community aren’t typically looking to organize and gather naturally. That takes an external force. Meetup-in-a-box is like a cookbook and a kit to get folks together that have common interests. In our case – node.js.


There are so many. Don’t know where to begin. I think the most out of the ordinary experience was antagonizing the CTO of another company that one of our board directors introduced us to – right in front of him. It was pretty surreal to watch.

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