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Y-Combinator and The Five (or Six!) -Tool Developer

When you love what you do, and who you are with, excellence will follow.

The #1 reason I adore coming to work every day is for the opportunity to work with an awesome team filled with smart, ambitious people who love what they do.

It’s a privilege I’ve been appreciative of every single day, week, month and year that I’ve been a partner at TWG, and today we’re celebrating a new team milestone: our first TWG’er, Dessy, is interviewing at Y-Combinator.

I know what you’re thinking, why would we be celebrating the fact that one of our developers might not be coming back from California?

But before I answer, let me muse on what makes a great developer.

In baseball, a five-tool player is someone who excels at hitting for average, hitting for power, baserunning skills & speed, throwing ability, and fielding ability.

Players considered in this elite group have included Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Andre Dawson, and Duke Snider, as well as Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodrigues (in their primes).

At TWG, a five-tool developer might look like someone who excels at:

  1. Architecture & Planning;
  2. Back-end coding;
  3. Front-end coding;
  4. Mobile development;
  5. Communication – with stakeholders (someone who speaks geek & client); and

But wait.. There’s more.

There’s a bonus sixth tool.

6. Closing. I repeat… closing. Finishing. Completing. Shipping. Done for real.

When you run a company that builds Internet based software, you dream of having a five-tool dev. Frankly, if you have developers who excel in 3 of these categories, you’re doing great, and you can build a very successful team. If you have developers who excel in 4 or 5 of these categories, you hope to work with them forever – trust me. But a legendary six-tool developer, now your in “pinch-me” territory.

Back to the celebration.

One of our rising stars, Dessy Daskalov is well on her way to becoming a six-tool developer. She tech leads her own projects; builds back-ends and front-ends; develops in Rails and iOS; takes the project management burden off Dom, Chris, Jeremy and me because she’s so good with our clients; and she gets shit done!

Dessy also finds time on evenings and weekends to build side project she’s passionate about. These talents and efforts helped her get in front of Paul Graham at YC, and we’re very proud of her.

A year ago, Dom and I realized that personal and professional growth can’t be treated like a zero sum game. The goal is always for both sides to benefit and succeed, even if that means someone has to move on (one day).

We don’t know whether Paul Graham will be accepting Dessy and her team to YC, but we do know that opportunities like that don’t come around for everyone, and we’re extremely proud of her, and supportive of her efforts.

Go Go Dessislava!


9 Responses to Y-Combinator and The Five (or Six!) -Tool Developer

  1. Arati says:

    Amazing post! Goodluck, Dessy!

  2. Andrew Peek says:

    Great post.

    Dessy – if you want to add to your toolbox, here’s a 7th:


    Best of luck.

  3. ChicagoChris says:

    Thanks for the good post. Agree with you and would suggest adding design as a “tool”. Front end is different than understanding general layout, typography and interaction issues. A programmer with design chops is a great combination.

  4. Nona says:

    Where/who in the picture is Dessy?

  5. Andrés says:

    @ChicagoChris: You make a good point about design chops. Here at TWG, all our front-end guys & gals are very involved in UX design, however visual design is not a significant part of our internal process. We partner with some amazing design teams for that expertise. Cheers!

  6. Andrés says:

    @Nona: Dessy is in San Fran for YC, we took this photo while she was away. You can see her photo and read her bio in the team section of our site.

  7. Sean Lerner says:

    Awesome news! Congrats Dessy!

  8. Andy says:

    I just met Dessy today and found out that we have the same post (she got there first)! We are blog kindred spirits.

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