Non technical founders: how do you select your technology stack?


I'm a non-technical founder who is going to be using contractors on ODesk to build the MVP. How do I decide on which technologies to pick?

- PHP andMySQL

- Rails and PostGres

- Node.js


How you would decide on one and the factors that would make you choose one over the other?

Technology Founders Odesk

asked Mar 29 '14 at 16:45
John Stinnett
4 points
  • This will be a very subjective question. As people will always prefer the stack they have been using instead of something they don't use. – Thomas Goodlow 8 years ago
  • Have faith Thomas, this is a community of entrepreneurs first (unlike StackExchange) although many with technical backgrounds. – Webbie 8 years ago
  • Your project and requirements would need to be considered, as well as your willingness/tolerance for a re-write down the road. Most people assume a selection is for long-term, but MVP used to validate can be tossed if the pivot(s) that follow are dramatic. – Webbie 8 years ago

3 Answers


I would advise on PHP + MySQL (aka LAMP stack) for the following reasons:

1. It's a very common and popular stack with many established and growing companies use it. Good for MVPs, growth and scaling later.

2. It would be easier to find GOOD engineers for.

3. Technology and issues of every kind are well understood and documented by the community, which will come in handy when you need to scale.

Rails is popular and would be Ok for MVP and pivots, but the first rockstar engineer you will hire will likely tell you to scrap the code and port it to another stack, unless your first developer is a rockstar (unlikely to be found on oDesk). I will just leave it at that to avoid enraging Ruby fans.

Node.js is awesome for certain type of applications, but not a fit for everything. There aren't as many experienced Node.js developers out there compare to say LAMP and they are worth a premium some companies in media space are willing to pay, but a lot of engineers want to work with the technology. You need a strong, experienced engineer to design and build you a site/app in Node.js, experimenting with it when on a deadline to launch can become a disaster project quickly.

EDIT: PHP also has many established and well-documented frameworks to choose from, for every project type. See a comparison chart for PHP frameworks. Although not listed as an option in the question, I would suggest to consider Python as well (still a LAMP stack) which has good frameworks as well.

answered Mar 29 '14 at 21:25
2,835 points


I would recommend either Rails or PHP.

While PHP has more contractors available and easy to start, a big downside is that a hefty chunk of those contractors are bad programmers. Rails has fewer contractors but it's less likely for engineers to write bad speghetti code due to the way the MVC framework is built.

answered Mar 29 '14 at 22:02
Chrissie Gray
1,107 points

The stack you should choose depends heavily on the product you're trying to build. You should consult an expert you trust on this.

Having said that, PHP and MySQL are definitely declining in popularity.
answered Mar 30 '14 at 00:29
100 points
  • That, plus it's easy for new programmers to write bad code with it. One thing I like about Rails is the clear boundaries you have to stay within, which is a benefit. While it's obviously possible to write bad code in an MVC architecture too, PHP makes is far too easy. – Thomas Goodlow 8 years ago
  • Agree that the project itself and requirements need to be considered when choosing a technology. – Webbie 8 years ago

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