If there is a gold rush equivalent in the entrepreneurship world, it is without a doubt a hunt for developers. One surprising place where more high quality developers are starting to appear is in business schools. One of the best business student developers I know is Northeastern senior Drew D’Agostino.
It was the Husky Start-up Challenge (HSC) of fall 2010 at Northeastern University. Third year student Drew D’Agostino was pursuing a new website idea where frantic gift givers could find talented writers to craft a custom poem for their significant other and deliver it online. “I’m trying to figure this out in PHP” Drew explained to me as I hovered over his table during the first HSC Boot Camp. As a skilled marketer and salesman, Drew was exceptional at dealing with people but he didn’t have much experience with web development. Every evening he was camped out in the library with his laptop open, picking apart websites and hacking together a page of his own. By the end of the semester long competition, Drew had built GoRomeo.com and become his own “technical co-founder.”
Fast forward a few years and now Drew is an incredibly competent web developer with expert skills in both back and front end development. He is constantly leaning new technologies and each project he embarks on gets more impressive. In fact, he even wrote a tutorial on the subject.
What makes Drew so special is that he has a deep understanding of people before code. He can talk to customers and translate business requirements into functions. He appreciates design because he knows how important it is for selling a product. So the code he writes and products he creates all excel in both function and user experience. Most importantly, when Drew talks to colleagues, he doesn’t default to “programming-speak.” He knows how to explain technical concepts to non-technical people. This is absolutely critical: it makes him easy to work with, communicate with and ultimately trust. I’m proud to call him my friend and learn something new from him every day.
As I continue my quest to recruit world-class technical students and grads to join the team at influencers@, I use Drew as a model. He has the ideal mix of qualities that make for a wonderful teammate and technical lead. This new hybrid developer with both technical and business acumen is going to start to become more and more desirable. While you may want to get in line to hire him, for now he is embarking on a mission to unbug the world.