What are the Roles in a Startup Product Development Team?

Güçlü Talu

Co-founder @ Smartup Network

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A startup product is not technically as complex as an enterprise software developed for a bank or a telecommunications operator. Why? Because the amount of money processed by a startup product has at Day 1 is zero whereas a banking software processes thousands of transactions worth millions of dollars. So believe it or not the "developer" role which is most often the only one that founders plan for is not the most critical role in a startup product development team. You are going to have to wear many hats as the founder if you do not have someone in your team for the following roles:


A Product manager is responsible for the business layer of a product including ux, flows, functionality, business model, in-product viral growth channels, competitor analysis and content. S/he builds mockups of the product to guide development.During development, there will literally be hundreds of edge-case questions about how the product should behave and the answers will need to be swift and coherent so as not to delay development.


A software tester’s job is to try and break your application and that person can not be the developer because he will not try hard enough -  his job is to “build”, remember? Depending on the complexity of your product you should have detected at least a hundred defects internally within your team before you can launch. You can prioritize these defects and choose not to delay your big day because of minor defects  that have little impact on your UVP - infact you should do so! but you should know about them to be able to make this decision.


UX is both the product manager’s and the designer’s respnsibility. UI, however - which is most often confused with UX, the two are seperate things - is the job of the designer. Your designer should give you the high-res assets that will be used to build your mobile or web app in the format that your developer prefers. Just do not forget to make sure they agree on this before your designer starts working


This role is often confused with the Product Manager. The Product Manager is responsible for the business layer of a product whereas the Project Manager is responsible for the timely execution of the tasks in the Project Plan. Yes, you need to have a project plan which is made by the Project Manager. The Project Plan is made up of all the tasks that need to be completed for your product to be built along with interdependencies. The Project Plan gives you a schedule date for development to be finished and it includes all the activities carried out by the people listed above ending with those of the tester. To plan ahead, set the interdependencies of tasks and remove any blocker factors that prevent a task from being completed on time the Project Manager has to be proactive and foresee risks before they are realized.


Smartup Network is a team of entrepreneurs that have experience in building, raising funds and selling startups. Our mission is to support entrepreneurs with bright ideas who don't have the proper team to turn their ideas into products. Our three main areas of expertise are:

We build their products for entrepreneurs whether they are at idea stage or post-MVP stage.

Product Management
We work alongside entrepreneurs to find the ideal product user experience for their target markets.

Finding Investment
Once our entrepreneurs' products begin showing traction, we get them in contact with the right investors.

So far, we have had the opportunity to build startup 35 products in 16 countries, for entrepreneurs from all over the world including San Francisco, Seattle, Amsterdam, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Copenhagen, Dubai, Johannesburg, Accra, Quito and Istanbul. You can find some of the latest successes of our entrepreneurs' apps through this link. Smartup Network partners with well known startup hubs all over the world. Including but not limited to, Switzerland based Seedstars, which supports startups in developing countries, Boston New Technology Group in the United States and Impact Hub Istanbul, the world-renowned startup hub for social entrepreneurs. Startup experts from all over the world such as. Trivago founder and CEO Rolf Schrömgens and Sina Afra, who was named One of Top 100 Most Influential Tech People in the world by Wired Magazine. Our goal is to support as many entrepreneurs as possible realize their dreams.

Smartup Network
Technical Partner For Your Startup