Role of Software Engineers in Startups

Aka Chung

17 Jan 2020


According to LinkedIn reports, the demand for software engineering jobs has almost doubled in the past 2 years. startups have also made a big impact in these figures as most or all of the top startup organizations need software engineers. This is simply because all of the companies need quality software irrespective of their tech orientation or size. However, a common question asked is regarding the trigger behind engineers choosing startups over well established companies like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Facebook. Most of them pointed out that startups provide faster career growth paths and they get a chance to explore their competency.

Moreover, they get an opportunity to work closer with related teams of the firm. This gives an overall novel dimension to the learning possibilities at work. In fact, professionals can learn a lot in 6 months itself in a startup which can take almost more than a year when working in big companies. 

Key Roles and Responsibilities

Companies looking to hire a software engineer for their firm should look for a lot of advanced skills and proficiency other than mere educational qualification. In the case of startups, hiring the right candidate is crucial as the success of the projects will be solely based on a small team. Also, a good foundation is what is really needed for a startup firm to gain confidence and make a mark in the industry and attract more clients and projects. 

A software engineer should be able to perform most or all of the listed responsibilities to make sure that they drive their organization to short term and long term success. 

1)Learn the fundamentals

learn the fundamentals


Getting the basics right is what needs to be done first to be able to excel as an asset to the organization. A quality software engineer should undergo extensive training to have an upper hand on the computer science fundamentals, coding, programming, architecture and design. Free flow knowledge in software debugging, information analysis and software testing is a great advantage. 

2)Visualise processes and outcomes



Being a crucial member of a startup, a software engineer should be able to foresee the processes and results in the short term and long term. Instead of pointing out the problems, one should be able to solve the problems and come out with workable solutions. Choosing a person with strong analytical and reasoning skills is the key. They will have to debug a large codebase or troubleshoot software issues whenever needed. 

3)Be a solid all-arounder

all arounder


If you are chosen as a software engineer in a startup, you are expected to do a lot more than just a routine desktop job. You should be able to upskill yourself to have an upper hand on challenging situations and some decision making. In such small companies, there simply is not enough resources to hire specialists for all positions, so everyone needs to contribute. The ability to work collaboratively is key and good communication skills can save many situations.   

4)Plan as you go



Unlike in big companies where everything will be all organized, a startup might mostly run in a 'plan as you go' set up. There can be cases where there are no written documents about the processes that can lead to vague understandings. A new urgent task might turn up out of nowhere just after a meeting with CTO. In some cases, the tasks might change without any notice because a project is screwed up, they lost an investment or maybe the startup might be moving in an all new direction.

Read Also: Online vs Offline The best way to learn Tech Skills

5)Invest in self-belief

self belief


In a big company, there will be a training team or mentor to help you out in whatever you do or give suggestions to improve on the go. However, a startup company asks you to invest more on self-belief as you will have to handle everything on your own. Unlike being excellent in a single technology in a big firm, you will have to work on diverse technologies, sometimes without any notice. Oftentimes, there won't be anyone more knowledgeable than you in the firm to get crucial advice from, which means that you have the opportunity to make decisions single handedly... which can turn the company up or down. 

6)Multitasking becomes a routine



In an established company, a software engineer might just need to work dedicatedly within a team and perform tasks based on a specific skill set. However, a startup firm expects a lot more than that. You will have to do development tasks, QA, do project management, handle front-end development or even UI/UX. Sometimes the role of talking with clients and setting the right expectations, or maybe even a mediator talk during a project failure or delay all might come to you. 

Even when this might turn into a nightmare during tight situations, this will enable you to manage every single task by yourself. This will boost your confidence to the next level and lay a foundation for fast career growth.  

7)Typical duties of a software engineer

duties of software engineers


Having said all this, there are some key duties or skills expected out of a software engineer. Whether a startup or an established company, they will look out for the following skills and proficiency or list them out in the job description:

  • Develop standard operating procedures
  • Design, code and debug applications in different software languages
  • Liaise with colleagues to implement technical designs
  • Peer review code changes
  • Analyze, design and develop tests
  • Investigate problem areas and come out with solutions
  • Maintain and improve existing codebases
  • Provide written knowledge transfer material
  • Develop software solutions by studying information needs
  • Software modelling and simulation
  • Collaborate cross-functionally with business users, data scientists and project managers
  • Analysis of software, code, requirements, system risks and software reliability
  • Software testing and quality assurance

Read Also: How to get a Job after a Coding Bootcamp?


More than just know-how in programming languages or the ability to write code, a software engineer should develop interpersonal skills. As technology is developing at a rapid pace, it is becoming critical for software engineers to stay up to date with trends and remain competitive. As everything is getting digitalised, good software is becoming necessary for most or all ventures, organizations and institutions. And there is no wonder why software engineers are in demand over the past two decades or so and it seems like the trend will continue for many more years to come. 

Are you an aspirant with a great passion to become a software engineer? Then why not go for advanced bootcamps like the one offered by Xccelerate. This 16-week web development bootcampwill turn you into a strong candidate for the software engineering industry through soft skills coaching, interactive learning and individual projects.

Aka Chung

17 Jan 2020