Brad Feld

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Recruiting Software Developers By Showing Up With Pizza

May 03, 2012
Category Management

Once again we are in a zone where hiring software developers is incredibly challenging. The market is fully employed and while there is some movement between companies, great developers tend to be decided to what they are doing for a while, especially in an entrepreneurial context.

Last night I was at Angel Boot Camp in Boston. It was a dinner for about 50 angel investors – a mix of experienced ones and new ones – organized by Jon Pierce. A few of us (including me) gave short talks and there was a long, vibrant room wide group conversation.

Angus Davis followed me for the short talks. He had a bunch of great ideas, but one stood out. He said something like:

“If you want to recruit great software developers, show up at the computer science lab with a bunch of pizza the night before a major project is due.”

While he said this in the context of recruiting software developers, I think this is true of building relationships with anyone in college you are interested in working with. Just show up and bring pizza. Just show up and do something memorable that is helpful in the moment. Just show up and be generous with your time. Engage and go to where the people are, rather than wait for them to come to you, because they won’t.

This afternoon I’m teaching a class at Harvard with Jeff Bussgang and then tonight I’m teaching a class at MIT with Ken Zolot. I haven’t decided what version of pizza I’m bringing, but Angus’ line made me think about always showing up with something that everyone will remember, in addition to simply showing up in the first place, which is probably the most important point of all.