Why it's useful to have a staff with a wide age range: Zonoff CEO Mike Harris - Technical.ly Philly

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Apr. 17, 2014 9:30 am

Why it’s useful to have a staff with a wide age range: Zonoff CEO Mike Harris

Mike Harris's first startup was almost entirely made up of people in their mid-20s. It was "a crazy, chaotic and fun time," he wrote on the Philly Startup Leaders listserv, "but that's not the only way to build a startup."

The Zonoff team. CEO Mike Harris is in the second row, in the Zonoff T-shirt.

(Photo courtesy of Zonoff)

Mike Harris‘s first startup was almost entirely made up of people in their mid-20s.

It was “a crazy, chaotic and fun time,” he wrote on the Philly Startup Leaders listserv, “but that’s not the only way to build a startup.”

Harris, who runs Malvern-based smart-home startup Zonoff, said his staff’s age range is between early 20s to more than 60. The average age of his roughly 30 employees is probably in the late 30s, he said. That’s a strength for Zonoff because its staff reflects the target demographics of its customers (Zonoff’s technology most recently powered Staples’ smart-home suite of products).

“I always use the example of how hard it must be for an engineer in Tokyo that takes the train to work to design and build a tractor for some farmer in Iowa. There is so little shared experience that it is tough to put yourself in the customers’ shoes. This may work in big companies where detailed specs are generated by product marketing teams, but in startups, it has always been my experience that things move so fast that the engineers often ARE product marketing and making day-today product decisions. The fact that every one of our employees has our system at home and uses it everyday is awesome.”

Read Harris’s whole post (and the associated chatter) here. (You have to be a subscriber of the list to see the archives.)

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Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes was Technical.ly's editorial product lead after reporting on the Philadelphia tech scene for four years. She's co-president of the Asian American Journalists Association Philadelphia chapter and a two-time Philadelphia News Award winner for "Community Reporting of the Year." The Bryn Mawr College grad lives in West Philly, likes her food spicy and wears jumpsuits often.

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