Tech startups are some of the most profitable in the world. About 20 tech companies are born in the United States every year, generating income from $100 million in a tight period. But this area is the riskiest. The risk of failure for a tech startup is 63%.
Disharmony between investors and the team (including the technical one) is the reason for the failure of 1 in 10 companies. 23% of companies admitted that the problems connected with personnel and contractors led to the collapse of businesses.
Yes, if you don’t want to be among the companies with doomed companies, you need to choose the right expert team. At Glorium, we analyze how to find a developer for your startup to best meet the needs of your business, potential users, and budget.
What to consider when finding developers for a startup: 5 main secrets
- The role of the founder in development. Rapid growth is related to great responsibility and risk. Therefore, company owners focus 90% of their time on high-level solutions: finding investors, potential customers, marketing, or market analysis. Development is an operational task in this case. That’s why you need to look for a team with experience working in your field. It will be better if you don’t need to monitor their performance at every step.
- Tech stack is the heart of a quality solution. Even if only MVP is built, it should be scalable and easily customizable to the growing needs of the market in the future. Therefore, it is better to select the startup tech stack considering future tasks, and it is better for the contractor company to choose it.
- Clear goals and objectives. The division of work by time, sprints, as in the SCRUM methodology, increases success in a technical business. The company has a clear budget, deadlines for product entry to the market, requirements, and obligations to investors. Therefore, it is more optimal to look for an Agile team that understands the nuances of work and excludes the threat of improper project development over a long period.
- Documentation and technical specification. Without clear specifics and precise results, the project can go completely different. Therefore, at the beginning of working with a team, you need to fill out an RFP or prepare an assignment, based on which the technical documentation will be built and, as a result, the solution will be released. In addition, a set of documentation will allow for more prompt updates. If you are far from the technical field, look for a team that can do everything turnkey with a dynamic generation of documentation that you will receive along with the finished product.
- Testing the product during development. About 60% of the product budget after the MVP stage is spent fixing bugs, crashes, or errors. Building a test architecture together with the main product will allow bringing a working product to the market for checking feedback. So, you will receive feedback on the concept and functions of the solution and not stupid mistakes. It will allow you to monetize your startup faster. Therefore, choose a team where testers make up at least 20% of the development team.
A roadmap for hiring developers for a startup: 5 steps to a dream team
1. Defining a product concept
Although the task is to find technical specialists, it is necessary to correctly present (prepare) a comprehensive product concept. It will make it possible to more accurately assess contractors based on their experience with exactly similar solutions.
Integrated product concept consists of the following data:
- The business component: what do you expect from the solution? Attracting investment? Development of the current technical basis of the business? Selling a finished product?
- Marketing component: how are you going to promote the ready-made solution? Online or offline? Openly or through partners? With your own hand or through a PR agency?
- The technical component of the solution: what do you expect from the product? What tasks should it solve? What kind of load should it withstand? How will it develop or scale? How will user data be protected?
Considering these issues, you need to describe:
- Objectives of the project and product;
- Monetization model startup;
- Visual, functional, and operational requirements for the solution;
- Financial and time constraints.
If your idea is not unique or partially represents an updated concept of an already known solution, conduct a market and competitor analysis in two dimensions: your potential customers and your potential competitors.
Analyzing competitors, find out:
- What exactly do they offer?
- In what price range do they work?
- What target audiences are they guided by?
- Where are they advertised?
- How do they work with clients?
- What kind of service do they provide?
- How is the feedback received?
Here you can also see how many orders or purchases you can expect with a developed product. You will understand the profitability of the idea.
Tip: Look at the technical stack of the solution and the number of versions up to a fully viable competitor product. So you can at least roughly estimate the motion vectors and the implementation period.
When analyzing customers, determine:
- With what need do they come to the solution provider?
- What budget do they have?
- How satisfied are they with the decision?
- What do they lack in competitors’ solutions?
- How much are they willing to pay for missing features?
- How constant is the demand?
- How often do customers return to the service provider?
This way, you can figure out unique offers and features that should be introduced into the product at the development stage to minimize competition and get your customers right away.
2. Determining the requirements for the development team
After you have determined what product, within what budget, and how long you want to receive, you can describe the requirements for the technical team:
1) What is the technical specialization of the team: frontend, backend, databases, design, cloud solutions, analytics. Identify the required technology stack for each area.
The most popular technology stack that can be used and adapted to most projects:
LAMP (Lin x, Apache, MySQL, PHP) is a classic technology stack that provides maximum productivity and security. In addition, due to the elements of open source code, a solution built on this stack can be easily adapted to different operating systems. It is losing its popularity to .Net and Java these days.
RoR (Ruby On Rails) is an integrated development environment. It allows building a solution and scaling it efficiently. But this tech stack is considered quite expensive compared to other complexes of languages and frameworks.
2) What is the format of working with the team: outsourcing, outstaffing, or hybrid format. You need to understand who will lead the team, who will provide the tools for the work, and who will check the result.
Today 64% of companies delegate technical solutions for business to management or implementation, partially or entirely.
Outsourcing is a format when you hire a specialist or a team with the necessary qualifications and experience, but this team is entirely subordinate to the management and schedule of the contractor company. So, the project manager ensures reporting and communication, and you pay for the services.
Outstaffing is a format in which you hire developers for your (most often) infrastructure and manage their work and tasks yourself. At the same time, salaries, taxes, and other nuances are controlled by your contractor company.
3) Which payment model will be most acceptable: time/materials, remote team, or a flat fee. It is worth considering both the possibility of constant monitoring of the work of specialists and the potential costs in case of additional wishes for introducing the necessary functions into the work.
Time & Materials is a model according to which you pay purely for the team’s work time at a fixed rate, as well as all the infrastructure that the developers use. Ideally suited if you do not completely understand the functionality and solution format on which the startup will be based. But the negative side of the model is possible significant budget overruns.
Dedicated Team is a model that implies delegating work on team assembling and management to the contractor company. In this case, you get a higher cost of work than the previous model, but you avoid risks connected with the wrong way of project development or slowing down of development due to the absence of a required specialist for an important task.
Fixed-Price is a model that implies project evaluation regardless of the involvement of specialists and the time spent. In this case, you can immediately understand the final cost of development and the implementation time. However, in this case, the quality of the project may suffer due to haste and omissions on the part of the contractor.
Have you identified the key terms of cooperation and searching for developers for your startup? Now it’s worth understanding which team and how to assemble.
3. Determining the composition of the startup’s team
The composition of your team directly depends on the tasks that you will delegate to them. To define the number of developers and their qualifications, you need to answer the following questions:
- Do I have detailed and accurate terms of reference?
- Do I understand the visual concept of the solution?
- How will communication with the technical team be ensured?
- Do I need to introduce a mobile version of the solution?
- How will the solution be tested?
If you answered “yes” to item 1, you need to immediately look for a team with a technical writer and business analyst. A business analyst can collect all the understanding and ideas you have prepared and transform them into clear instructions distributed by work areas. This instruction, after your approval, will be adapted by a technical writer into a task. It will be written in a language understandable for developers.
If you answered “yes” to item 2, you need a designer/prototyper who, based on your presentation and concept, visualizes everything you want to implement, drawing the screens and user actions from A to Z.
If you answered “yes” to item 3, you should assemble a team with a communication or project manager. This professional will clearly distribute tasks and set requirements for each specialist based on the project’s goals, timing, and constraints. Also, this specialist will provide you with reports and communicate with the marketing/finance team on your behalf.
If you answered “yes” to item 4, you should involve an Android/iOS developer, designer of mobile solutions, and a team lead to manage the process. But some services or applications can be responsive, so an experienced designer and front-end developer will be enough.
In addition, for the complex development of an IT solution, you will need:
- An architect: a specialist who will competently display the structure and features of the solution: from the server to integration with third-party services or systems.
- A full-stack developer: a developer who understands the specifics of managing both interfaces and internal algorithms. This specialist can compile together the entire solution that the architect builds.
- A backend developer is an engineer responsible for building an internal hierarchy: database connections, analytics, query execution algorithms, and everything related to the server-side of an IT solution.
- A frontend developer is a specialist responsible for building a solution on the user’s side. Everything related to the interface and actions of the end-users of the system’s capabilities.
4. Search for specialists or a team
Advice: no matter where you look for developers for your startup, it is better to take a team that jointly released solutions before. You will see the result of productivity and synergy. In the case of a separate search for specialists from different parts of the world, it will be difficult for you to assess the contribution of one participant, which may lead to an incorrect salary estimate.
So, after you have decided on the team’s composition, it is essential to understand where to look for specialists for a startup.
There are several options for building a team in reality:
- Recommendations from colleagues and friends. Perhaps there are people in your environment who have already used the services of excellent specialists. Ask them, get contact details, get in touch, and make appointments. The interview helps you determine who is suitable for your team and check the professionalism of the candidates.
- Coworking. It allows you to find “your” developer or even a future partner. This method is successfully used both for finding freelancers at separate stages of development and for hiring programmers for your staff.
- Search among students. This option helps you find young and ambitious developers. You can act as a recruiter and visit universities in your city to meet talented students. We also recommend visiting job fairs, where you may meet young professionals who want to start their careers in IT.
- Search on hackathons. Another place where many talented programmers gather. These marathons are often attended by founders who already had experience working with IT specialists. But even a non-techie can find suitable candidates here. At hackathons, you can get a lot of recommendations and reviews that are worth your attention.
- Conferences. Official events and corporate meetings help discover current IT market trends and meet experienced professionals. If you need a startup developer, participate in the conference and present your project. It will increase the chance of feedback from programmers who share your aspiration and idea.
Tip: Developers in your region will be more loyal to you as a startup founder. But if you are launching a project for a different location, they may not take into account the mental needs of users or your potential customers.
Like offline meetings, online interviews are quite popular too. The pandemic impacted online hiring a lot. Many business areas moved online. It also affected searching for new employees. There are such ways to find developers for a startup online:
- Freelance platforms. There are many beginners here, and only a few are experienced specialists. When entering a platform, pay attention to projects, expert reviews, and their experience in a similar field. In this case, you must understand the tech stack and have a technical specification.
- Communities in social networks/messengers. On Facebook, Telegram, Reddit, or LinkedIn, you can always find the developers of the required tech stack or even a ready-made team. Try searching by hashtags: developer, outsourcing, outstaff, frontend, backend.
- Job sites. Glassdoor, Djinni, and other international or local resources provide complete information about specialists. But, unlike the previous two methods, it will be difficult for you to understand whether you see a CV from a job seeker or from a recruiter/sales manager who may embellish the data on experience/skills. You should conduct multi-level interviews with such applicants.
- Websites of outsourcing companies. Specialists from India are considered the most accessible and free, which is an advantage with a tight deadline. Western Europe and the USA are the most experienced and often have specialized higher education. Central Europe and the CIS offer an optimal ratio of price and quality. In particular, Ukraine, Latvia, and Poland are in the TOP-10 of countries with the most dynamic development of the IT industry.
Advice: on freelancing, developers ask for 13-26% cheaper for work, but in the same percentage, they are less reliable since they are not connected with your project by anything other than material reward: there is no contract and penalties.
5. Hiring and introducing a team into the process
The last and most important point in finding performers is their recruitment and adaptation in the team. To do this, you need to narrow the number of potential employees to a minimum, check the working and social skills of candidates, integrate an employee into the project, and acquaint them with its features.
As you know, a new specialist must always be interviewed by the head of the department responsible for the position. In the IT field, it is vital since it helps to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate and check their practical training.
According to statistics, from 1.5% to 9% of the applicants reach from the first contact with the applicant to the hiring.
Job Interview: A Checklist of Important Hiring Questions
Why do you need to interview when you have a great CV, customer testimonials, and recommendations from colleagues? It’s simple: you need to identify the real potential of the candidate and their social skills.
There are 2 groups of parameters by which applicants are assessed: hard and soft skills. The former characteristics relate to the development and the latter to social adaptation and creativity.
The basis of teamwork lies in the communication of all participants. It is crucial for entrepreneurs who delegate development to outsource, assemble a group of freelancers, or order the service of a dedicated team.
First of all, we are interested in the hard skills of a candidate:
- Knowledge of development languages.
- Management of databases and their connections with the backend.
- Understanding UI/UX.
- Applying technology.
- Security and privacy.
- Development and integration.
- Analytical thinking.
- Work on the restoration and adjustment of the product.
Practical skills are great, but we must also consider the second group since we need teamwork and responsibility.
Soft attributes of applicants, which we focus on when hiring:
- Stress resistance.
If previously only the experience and feedback from clients were assessed, now the system has changed, raising social skills higher in the hierarchy of priority values.
The fact is that an active and creative beginner is easier to train and integrate into a team than a self-contained developer with 20 years of experience. In this case, no matter how cool the development skill is because teamwork requires communication and adaptation.
In addition to hard and soft skills, make sure of the candidate’s professionalism: study their CV, project cases, and companies in which they worked. It will help you check if their level and skillset are suitable for your product or if you should look for another performer.
Introduction to your business, or adaptation in the working environment
When you have decided on the candidates and hired them in the state or remotely, you need to introduce them to the team, assign roles, and start development. It is best to hold a meeting or another event where everyone can communicate in a relaxed atmosphere. But only if the timing allows.
In emergency cases, when performers are hired in the midst of a workflow, you need to quickly bring them up to date and discuss current tasks with examples or the best practices of previous specialists.
It is essential to immediately prioritize and familiarize newcomers with the roadmap, current stage of work, and project objectives. It will help them quickly get used to a new place and speed up the adaptation process.
Hiring and introducing a team requires skills and experience from the entrepreneur. If you have no desire or time to recruit yourself, you can hire a technical director or a dedicated development team.
We also discussed models for hiring developers for a startup in this article. We think it will be helpful for you to learn about the paths and risks before starting work.
Optimal price/quality ratio without a significant investment of time
Not ready to spend time searching for specialists and waste the budget on failures and improvements of inexperienced developers? Contact the Glorium specialists. We have several dozen projects in our portfolio, both from scratch and after less reliable development teams.
Our engineers work with 70+ relevant technologies and frameworks, which allows you to choose a tech stack for the goals or objectives of your startup. We are focused on comfortable and productive cooperation and are ready to conclude any contracts.
Our reputation is essential for us! Contact our manager right now, even if you only have an idea. We will build a solution and guide you on your way to becoming a tech unicorn.