Having a great idea isn’t enough when you’re starting a startup. You have to execute well on that idea by making the right decisions at the right time. In particular, you have to pick the right tech stack for your product. Without a good technical foundation, you can end up accumulating a lot of technical debt.

So to help founders understand what a good tech stack should look like, we invited two experts on this topic, Preeti Somal, the EVP of Engineering at HashiCorp and Jill Wetzler, the VP of Engineering at Pilot, to TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 to discuss everything from evaluating vendors to making sure you can rely on an open source product.

Making sure your team can ship quickly

Some development environments are more familiar than others. For instance, if you choose to work with a popular framework, it’ll be easier to find engineers to join your team, and the learning curve will be easier for your existing developers.

Your tech stack isn’t limited to the language your team is using. Choosing a good CI/CD (continuous integration and continuous delivery) framework can help you release updates more frequently. Using test suites is also a key element of a good development pipeline.

“I looked at how we were thinking about developer productivity and our environment. What are the things that can help our team move really fast and ship really fast? Because I think that is the name of the game when you’re talking about a startup. It just comes down to how you can get your code out the door as quickly as possible,” Wetzler said.

Wetzler knows what she’s talking about on this front as she experienced the opposite of that in a previous job when she was working for Twitter. “Twitter was making some decisions that I think were based on some people’s personal preferences at the time. We started to fork our own versions of git and our build system as well. It just became a mess that had to be untangled over a number of years. And so you really do pay for those decisions down the line,” she said.

The ability to reuse your code across different platforms can also help you manage multiple projects more easily. That can be important if you’re in charge of the roadmap and you want to have some visibility when you’re planning the next quarter.

“We had done a really good job of making some investments in our back-end productivity. But when it came to front end, we were really missing a lot of the key infrastructure pieces that helped us build a front end really quickly,” Wetzler said. She worked on fixing that when she joined Pilot.