Lessons from Scout Chacon Founding CTO of GitHub


Scott Chacon who is currently the founder of Chatterbug and was once a  founding CTO at GitHub was the guest speaker at the Impact Africa network and power speaker series held at Daystar university, Nairobi.

In 2018, Microsoft acquired GitHub for a whopping $7.5 Billion and that is seven hundred and fifty billion Kenyan shillings. The event was more focused on learning how the two time tech-entrepreneur and His friends managed to pull the deal off. We were more curious on how they managed to scale without venture capitalist for a very long time.  Scott shared his entrepreneurship journey and experience highlight on issues such as bootstrapping, raising capital, founder alignment, attracting and retaining talent, company culture, acquiring customers and customer service. This issues discussed were to benefit to the audience who mainly comprised of young entrepreneurs, System developers and students with zeal for entrepreneurship.

Scott’s Journey as an entrepreneur at the early stage was more of bootstrapping, The small sum of money they got from early customers were ploughed back to help in GitHub’s operations. Scott and his co-founding friends used to save what they called beer money and ploughed it back to help GitHub develop. For them bootstrapping was key for their success.

Company culture was an interesting topic and Scott highlighted how Github didn’t have proper company hierarchical structure and their employees could report to any of the four founders depending on their likeness. This was not a good experience and he advises on hierarchical structures that creates efficient management.

People who are not same as you and have different technical capabilities is a plus to your startup. Scott cited how they were all developers but in different field categories and this brought different aspects and dynamics which helped shape GitHub. However he has no experience of what happens in Kenya but chaterbug which is based in Berlin gives him an ideal picture of how different cultures can bring about different dynamics to a company and its important to let it play out and not control but,  align according to the values and objectives of your company.

Scott comments on price appraisal stated the fact that consumer price testing and price modification was key in finding monetary value for your product. The lowest to highest price approach determined the highest price and the lowest for your product by the fact that customers could not pay beyond a certain price.

Investing in Key users during initial stages of product development is a useful marketing strategy. Scott advises on startup focusing their resources on key customers turn influencers who will champion the product or service among peers and share your portfolio which eventually reaches your target market.

Startups should encourage bottom up approach where employees and stakeholders can freely float their ideas which can be implemented to compliment the company’s product/service. Scott gave an example of Amazon weekly pitching where everybody floats the idea and if its viable then its implemented.

The series was impactful to FarmIT and the lessons learnt will be implemented. We hope as a team to emulate the success of Scott Chacon and his friends in building a billion dollar GitHub.

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