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How to Find Developers for Startups

Wondering how to find a developer? Bringing in the right expertise at the right price and in the shortest time is a complex challenge faced by new startups. The segment is tough — over 80% of app projects don’t make it past their first year.

Hiring can help prevent many problems that plague new startups, eventually contributing to their failures. For instance, a competent development team can help alleviate the issues of poorly designed products prone to bugs.

With 29% of startups attributing running out of funds as the reason for failure, finding developers for the startup at budget-friendly rates can cut the costs of developing the minimum viable product. This promotes optimum budget utilization as the startup can have leftover funds to make changes to the MVP in case of initial poor performance.

A well-rounded team can carry out proper idea validation, market, and user research. Startups with “unique or groundbreaking ideas” often overlook the formal idea verification in favor of fast development. But this can be quite perilous; ask the hundreds of companies that have spent thousands and millions on product development only to launch products that no one wants to use.

The goal of today’s article is to translate our expertise into actionable insights that will help startup founders — particularly non-tech entrepreneurs — choose the most suitable development option. The direction given will help alleviate problems such as low-quality products, wrong selection of development approach, runaway costs, delayed launch, and poor project KPIs.

How can a startup find a development team?

From startups to big tech, competition for tech talent is quite fierce. That’s because the rapid acceleration of tech adoption has outpaced the industry’s ability to supply highly-trained and experienced developers.

On average, it takes a relatively short time for someone to pick up some basic coding skills — but many years to actually become any good.

Startups need to hire at the top tier because they don’t have the time or resources to spend on training. There is no wiggle room for costly development mistakes.

Here are some high-level approaches to finding web developers for startups:

1. Creating a team from scratch

Yes, the first option that most founders gravitate to because it seems comfortable and secure is trying to onboard new developers. There’s even a notion potential investors will be most interested in the available tech talent, along with a well-polished executive team. And to find developers, founders may leverage their networks for referrals, post on job boards, or delegate the hiring process to a recruitment agency.

But is this a viable way to find a developer for a startup? Let’s weigh the benefits and drawbacks:
Pros

  • Direct communication: Face-to-face communications will be the norm if the startup maintains its own office space.
  • Strong team culture: The team members will share the same environment and surmount challenges together, bolstering a strong culture and shared identity.
  • Increases buy-in: The startup can increase project buy-in much easier, from offering perks such as no dress code or free snacks to meaningful compensation incentives such as stock options.
  • Better oversight: The team can begin each day with a hurdle to update the progress of tasks in the physical kanban board.
  • Control: Founders can dictate tech-stack to use or development approaches. It may be even easier to collaborate on quick changes.

Cons

  • Lengthy process: The hiring duration can range from a couple of days to several months, and some factors may be outside the startup’s control, for instance, if the developer needs to leave the current role and relocate to a new city.
  • Higher workforce maintenance costs: Employers must provide bare necessities such as a conducive workplace, equipment, and tools. In-house employees may have paid sick days and medical insurance. So, the startup ends up paying for both productive and unproductive time.
  • Delays in product launch: The Lean startup philosophy dictates that startups must build fast and collect feedback as quickly as they can. Assembling an internal team introduces delays. Even a few weeks of delay could see the entrance of a similar startup offering the same app. Starters’ advantage has been a strong pillar for many businesses.
  • Hiring expenditure: Recruiting is prone to high levels of budget waste. The cost per hire is already up, with startups spending nearly $4,800 on recruiting costs per person.

Startups should prioritize building an MVP to validate that they indeed have a profitable idea before investing considerable resources in building an internal team. That’s why hiring an in-house development team is not practical for startups, though it may be practical for established businesses. Additionally, founders should always prioritize hiring options with the least time-to-market and least path of resistance — where few things are likely to go wrong.

2. Search for a suitable outsourcing company

An outsourcing partner is an organization that can provide the required support and skillset to either verify the idea, conduct user research, design the initial prototype, or build and deploy the final MVP version.

Leading outsourcing agencies provide all the services in-house for full cycle development.

A startup looking for developers can opt for this strategy for the following benefits.

Pros:

  • Deep and proven talent pool: Startups can find and hire developers from global markets. The right expertise is easy to come by in regions oriented toward outsourcing such as Eastern Europe, where many providers have experience working with US-based startups.
  • Reduced expenses: The project avoids the baggage of maintaining an in-house team. For instance, there is no expenditure for office supplies or enough square footage to handle a small team, where the rent can run into thousands of dollars.
  • Performance-based payments with split milestones: Sourcing developers for your startup from outsourcing partners exposes the business to less risk. The payments may be based on agreed deliverables in the milestone schedule.
  • Expedited project delivery: The remote team can begin work right after contract signing and may deploy sufficient resources to have the project completed within the client’s specified duration.
  • Simpler to scale: Startups can easily find sufficient manpower to test their ideas or scale into full-fledged products after achieving product fit. For instance, it’s possible to have two independent outsourcing teams working on two adaptations of an idea, enabling simultaneous launch and comparison testing.

Cons:

  • Poor communication: It’s a considerable risk, as it contributes up to 25% of outsourcing project failures.
  • Confidentiality and security: It takes more due diligence and assurances to foster trust between cross-border partners. But this problem can be alleviated by signing enforceable NDAs with all participants containing the reserved rights and obligations and choosing an experienced company with no past claims.

When hiring a developer for a startup, outsourcing presents a unique advantage to leveraging a proven model to quickly bring an MVP to launch. It provides a launchpad to validate and make tweaks to an idea before
getting funding for an app startup.

New funding can be utilized to hire dedicated research, legal, development, and marketing teams. Alternatively, the team can continuously rely on outsourcing after validating its ideas and raising funds for the development of fully-fledged products.

4 Tips to find developers for startups

Following a systematic approach can increase the odds of success when finding programmers for a startup. So, consider these expert steps:

1. Define what you want to build

Before undertaking the search for development companies, the first crucial step is deciding and visualizing which kind of product has to be built.

Start with user stories, an effective tool to describe an app idea to a potential development team. Explain anticipated functions or build flowcharts. A simple visual makeup showing different screens can be invaluable. It’s also useful to describe all the desired core functionality in the MVP plan.

From a strategic perspective, figure out the target platforms, timelines, budget, and desired development time. Come up with a description of the niche and research potential competitors.

Note that professional development teams may have business analysts and product managers who can further help refine the idea. But performing some background research on your own can alleviate the mismatch of vision and reduce unnecessary processes.

2. Understand what to look for

Gaining a firm understanding of what to build is highly instrumental in figuring out the expertise, experience, and capability the project requires. Now, before you find a programmer for a startup, you should have the following areas flushed out:

  • Will it be a mobile app or a web project?
    Reach a consensus on where the application should be deployed. For instance, a productivity application targeted at corporate users would likely be used on the web via PC.

    If the app targets iOS and Android users, the team should have an incline on whether to develop separate native applications or cross-platform apps (e.g. Flutter app development). Unless the app needs to take advantage of some core native functionalities, it’s better to go with a cross-platform approach that may even reduce the time-to-market as it promotes up to 90% code reusability.

  • Development region and pricing model:
    When hiring programmers for a startup, pinpoint a development market with a deep pool of experienced companies and affordable rates. Remember, the MVP should be developed in the most budget-friendly way, but not at a compromise of quality, as this can create negative impressions with the target market. The startup also needs to know whether it will prefer a fixed-price contract or hourly pricing. They can even figure out if to ask for a dedicated team. *Fixed pricing contracts deteriorate development flexibility, a bad option for startups as they are prone to request changes.
  • Requisite experience:
    When finding developers for your startup, consider the type of experience that will be instrumental to project success. Are you looking for companies that have developed similar products?

    If the product is unlike anything in the market, the focus can be on finding companies with familiarity with frameworks and technologies used in the niche. For instance, knowledge of streaming protocols and frameworks is critical to the successful development of video chat apps.

    Apps in some niches have to conform to strict data protection laws. For instance, US telemedicine apps must be HIPAA compliant. So, it’s critical to consider regulatory experience.

  • Team composition:
    When figuring out how to find developers for a startup, it’s paramount to ask: What kind of expertise is needed? For instance, is it necessary to have an additional designer, or will the app be independently designed? Think of the product manager role. Can you dedicate time and effort to take on the responsibilities or ask to have a PM in the Software Development Team?

    Additional roles to consider as you search to find developers for a startup, include testers, backend developers, DevOps, etc.

    Providers can render help in team selection, considering the steps that have to be undertaken.

    Example of a software development composition for a mobile project:

    • Business analyst
    • UI/UX designer
    • 1-2 mobile developers (native or cross-platform)
    • Backend developer
    • QA
    • Project manager
    • DevOps

3. Where to look for a developer for your startup?

The next challenging bit is gathering trusted sources for leads. But don’t fret. Try the following platforms to find outsourcing providers and experts:

  • Clutch – The B2B portal hosts thousands of companies, each with its portfolio page showcasing its expertise, past projects, and independently verified reviews. Clients can view curated lists such as “Top web development companies in Ukraine.”
  • The Manifest – The B2B ratings and review site publishes agency shortlists that potential startup clients can utilize in evaluating IT companies.
  • GoodFirms – The company specializes in B2B tech companies, hosting their reviews, hourly rates, location, and certifications, as well as providing an estimate of the number of workers.
  • Upwork – It’s a freelancing website that contains agency profiles with actual reviews from past customers. The website provides tools that business clients can use to create milestones, offer remuneration, and resolve conflicts.
  • Toptal – The service offers access to vetted talent, and startups can hire product managers, finance experts, designers, and software developers for startups.
  • Behance – The creative network allows designers to showcase their work. Clients find talent by exploring past work or samples. It’s possible to find individual designers or agencies.
  • Dribbble – Like Behance, the platform provides exposure to design agencies all over the world. Clients can browse through samples in many categories, themes, and niches.

The question of how to find a developer for a startup can be sufficiently answered by also leveraging offline sources. They may include:

  • Conferences
  • Hackathons
  • Recommendations from A-class developers

4. Once you’ve chosen someone, start your trial period

The most critical step as you learn how to outsource website development is understanding how to evaluate developer expertise and determine if they’re the right fit to deliver on the mission.

When hiring individual developers, consider paid tests. Ask the developer to solve a tricky coding task showcasing their problem-solving skills. The hiring team can even contract a separate developer to devise the test and evaluate submissions — rather than utilizing widely shared tests that anyone can find answers to online.

For a software development company, ask for a trial period which, of course, should be indicated in the contract along with any obligations if the startup chooses to cancel. The terms and conditions should list the number of profiles available for consultation during the period, such as business analysts, PMs, engineers, or software developers.

Use the trial period to gauge the level of work and engagement. Consider if the communication with the team is seamless and clear. Build vital relationships, and after establishing a strong congruence, continue working with them. If the trial doesn’t work out, try another provider with a renewed focus on what you actually need.

How much does it cost to hire developers for startups?

The cost to design an app can be highly variable. Outsourcing partners may first base their pricing on experience, location, and reputation. They can also adopt different pricing models, the most common being pricing per hour.

Another common model in development is project-based pricing, where the agency estimates the number of hours or work days and multiplies it with an hourly rate. The development company may offer this pricing after undertaking a few projects in the niche and gaining a fairly good understanding of required features and projected timelines.

For hourly contracts or priced-based contracts, the cost may be influenced by certain factors, including:

Cost factor Determinants
App’s complexity Number of MVP features, third-party API integrations, billing & payment gateways, login & signup SDK integrations, required framework, backend workflows and business logic
UI design complexity Number of screens, touch gestures, custom elements, complex animation
Paid service integrations
Number of platforms Separate apps for iOS or Android using native languages, or cross-platform development
Hosting, security, and testing Hosting services, multi-layer authentication systems, security testing, independent compliance testing
Expertise required PM, UI / UX Designer, iOS developer, Android (or Flutter developers), Backend, QA, DevOps, etc.

Some technology costs may be offset with open source projects.

Performance-based pricing may be offered by agencies undertaking marketing, reputation building, customer support, or PR activities.

Hiring developers for a startup: Conclusion

That is the basic breakdown of how to find a software developer for a startup. Admittedly, it’s a complex and time-consuming process.

There is no room for guesswork or mistakes as startups have unproven ideas. Wasting time and resources can mean prematurely running out of funds.

Don’t make the mistake of hiring inexperienced developers to cut costs. Many freelancers overestimate their capabilities and work independently instead of as part of a reliable team.

The solution you’re looking for is hiring Attract Group, a Ukrainian outsourcing development company. We have helped many startups with their MVPs, and many have gone on to prove their idea viability.

Go through past projects in our portfolio to see over 30 featured projects such as:

Or, speak to an expert by contacting our team.

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