Theory Hipster Hustler Hacker Minimum Viable Team

Hipster, Hustler, Hacker: The Minimum Viable Team

On the blog of entrepreneur Andreas Mose I read a few days ago the article The Minimum Viable Team – Hustler, Hipster and Hacker. A very interesting approach to staffing a successful startup.

The thesis: The Founding Team of a company should ideally consist of three people with three different character traits and resulting tasks: The hipster, the hustler and the hacker. How it comes about and what it means, I will briefly summarize again before I go into a small problem in the current market structure.

@Andreas Mose Minimum Viable Team – Hustler, Hipster und Hacker

The Minimum Viable Team – The idea

The idea behind the Minimum Viable Team is actually relatively easy to explain. It’s about combining the different areas of responsibility known from classic companies (HR, finance, development, marketing, PR, …) in such a way that a small number of employees (here: 3) can combine and manage them. Because one thing is clear: When you are just starting with a company, it is important to solve a few, hopefully prioritized, problems, e.g. platform development, market entry and customer acquisition. In contrast to the large companies from which this large structure was derived, which are already fighting on all fronts at the same time and have to cope with a huge administrative effort in-house and on the market.

In practice this would look like this, for example: Instead of dividing individual departments for sales, business development and recruiting/HR into separate departments, everything is combined into one position and transferred to one person whose primary task is to communicate the idea of the company to a large number of possible cooperation partners (press, company, employees). Thus, for example, 4 possible departments are distributed to one post according to the nature of their task.

I have tried to illustrate here how the summary of the task areas could look like:

Theory Hipster Hustler Hacker Minimum Viable Team
The principle of the Minimum Viable Team in a Slide

As can be seen, administrative tasks such as management and finances are also deferred for the early phase of the company. See perhaps also Oliver Samwer: CFOs are not founders

What are hipsters, hustlers and hackers and what do they do?

As you can see above, we have not only shrunk the areas of responsibility, but also distributed them among 3 employees at the same time: The hipster, the hustler and the hacker. What these people are supposed to be, I think is explained quite well below.


He is a driving force by his nature. He is result-oriented, disciplined and shines through his assertiveness and perseverance. He is able to convince people and regularly maintains his extensive network.


He is empathic and understands the customer better than he understands himself. He has a soft spot for great design and is the creative head of the team. His goal is to keep things simple, elegant and easy to understand.


A hacker is a born coder. He surfs on PHP, dreams of Java and thinks in Ruby On Rails. He is analytical, works in a structured and extremely focused way. His reliability ensures constant results and his resistance to stress allows him to work night shifts in case of emergency.

In my words, that’s what it would look like:

  • Hipster: Generalist marketer.
  • Hustler: Pronounced sales personality.
  • Hacker: Excellent developer with an eye for the big picture.

Problem: Where do I find Hustler and Hacker?

Why I am taking up the article again here is the following. I think the idea is a great fit, but I have made the experience that in the current market structures there is a massive imbalance in the distribution of the individual characters in the company. Sometimes I have the feeling that startups are recruited exclusively from a horde of hipsters who come from design, want to live the good things in business and are too close to their own target group. As a result, some companies lack the necessary pressure in the market and speed in the execution (development) of the actual product.

I believe that in the market, the manpower behind the roles is more or less distributed like this:

Hipster Hustler and Hacker Minimum Viable Team
Distribution of hipster hackers and hustlers in the labor market

Survey: Are you a hipster, hustler or hacker?

Well, maybe I’m completely wrong and just keep meeting the wrong people. But you can do me a favor and place yourself in this context as a hipster, hustler or hacker. I know from my own experience that you can take on different roles in different organizational environments. But just be honest with yourself and tell me where you would like to see yourself in a 3-man/woman start-up – of course all anonymous and without opting in.

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Christoph Kleine
Christoph Kleine

... is Managing Director at THE BIG C Agency & founder of Besides Online Marketing he works on issues of Usability, Web-Analytics, Marketing-Controlling and Business Development. Xing, LinkedIn.

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