[Techie Tuesday] The top criteria startups should keep in mind when choosing their tech stack

Dattatri Radhakrishna, VP of Engineering, Whatfix, says an effective tech stack helps your team improve productivity by optimising processes, influences the kind of products you will be able to build, and determines your chances of success.
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For tech startups, choosing the right technology infrastructure is possibly the most important decision – this is what will determine success or failure.

The choice of the technology stack is one of the most important aspects of building a product. Every decision affects the future growth and development of the company. Several factors influence the choice of a technology stack. Inefficient spending, siloed data, and subpar customer experiences can all result from tech stack sprawl if not managed with care.

What can you do to build a technology stack that can scale without slowing you down and locking you in?

The first step is to choose a flexible set of technologies so that your business can easily grow and as your needs change, while not compromising on functionality. When it comes to choosing your startup technology, here are some of the things you should consider:

Scalability

While you do not have to worry about scale from day one, you still need to choose a stack that allows you to scale over time.

A scalable application, irrespective of whether it is web, desktop, or mobile, allows you to add features to the product's core functionality. It helps handle a growing volume of users and activity. Scalability also enables you to quickly process multiple requests in parallel.

Time to market

The most important thing to consider in a startup, especially during the initial stages, is the time to market, which means solving some of the pressing pain points and providing value in a timely manner.

You wouldn’t worry so much about the scale during these early stages until you have hit a good product-market fit. It is important to get validation for your ideas before investing in scalability.

Developer availability

Many of the newer tech tools are hyped up, but the available talent pool will be limited in most cases. In that case, you need to explore whether the technology has a broad base of developer support. This will validate that the tech stack tool will continue and be well maintained.

Cost

The right tech stack should minimise costs and bring more value in the long run because you are able to deliver a better product with a balanced sense of customised tools and technical requirements.

Consequently, most startups go for open source technologies as they are cost-effective and highly customisable, and would invariably have a robust community that collaborates to solve many of their questions.

Community

If some of the newer open source technologies do not have a vibrant and active developer community support, it is preferable to avoid such tech tools.

Size of the project

It is important to evaluate the size of the project and have a strategic viewpoint before investing in your technical requirements. While the focus will initially be on getting a MVP out, the choice of tech stack should allow you to build on top of it over time.

Type of project

The tech stack will highly depend on the type of application you are trying to build. For example, if you are building a marketplace, then Ruby or Java are ideal candidates. Ruby on Rails with React, or Java with React are great for building an ecommerce application. On the same lines, Python/PHP is great for building a social network.

Web and/or Mobile

The choice of application depends on your target audience. Under mobile, you will have to cater to both iOS and Android. Based on that, you can choose to go with Kotlin for Android and Swift/Object-C for iOS.

Best startup tech stack models

You can use the traditional combination of technologies that have already been tested and used if you're having trouble assembling your tech stack. Several pre-made technology stack models are popular among companies for their development.

Many businesses have found success with a combination of these technologies. These are the most popular tech stack models:

For web applications, you have a lot of choices, but they can broadly be categorised among traditional front-end/back-end, front-end heavy, back-end heavy.

MEAN stack - MongoDB, ExpressJS, AngularJS, and NodeJS allow developers to code for both front end and back end in Javascript, thereby allowing front-end developers to easily understand the back end code and vice versa.

MERN stack: This stack is similar to MEAN, except that you work with ReactJS here instead of Angular.

LAMP: Lamp (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) is another tech stack used mainly for developing dynamic websites and web apps.

Swift/Kotlin or Java: It is best to use Swift for native iOS apps while Kotlin or Java is fine for Android apps.

OS native apps/Electron or Node webtoolkit: Similar to mobile, in case of desktop apps, the choices are limited to OS native apps or use an Electron or Node webtoolkit to create a wrapper app.

The right tech stack is critical to overall success

Software architecture is a key aspect in enabling scalability, reusability and portability of the applications. The technologies that you choose should enable both static and dynamic component configurations, thereby making it a performant app even when the traffic goes up and when you add new features.

Technical stacks are ideally the digital infrastructure that support a business. An effective tech stack helps your team improve productivity by optimising your processes and influences the kind of products you will be able to build and the type of engineers you will be able to hire.

Choosing the best start-up tech stack for your business may seem daunting at first, but it boils down to one question: what do you see your company doing in five years?

Picking the right technology means selecting the languages, cloud technologies, and frameworks that will help you meet your goals. It's imperative to have the right stack of technologies in order to achieve success for your organisation.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)