Eight months ago I told my brother I needed a good developer for my project to make sure there are no mistakes or issues right from the start. He said there are two kinds of developers: the hired ones and the lazy jobless ones. This is probably true for most other professions. To find the right developers is tough, because they already have a job. Anyone open for proposals is likely just lazy, tough to deal with, or simply bad. So how do I find a developer if the good ones are already hired?
First, decide if you really need a developer. Once you have a good idea and designed your first prototype, you will have to estimate if you have the right experience, if you have enough time to work on code yourself, and if you are willing to learn the programming language for your app. Most entrepreneurs start off being an HR manager, lawyer, developer, designer, manager, accountant and unicorn at the same time. Assuming you are not developing Flappy Bird, coding will likely require a separate person with the right skills. So how, where and when do you start looking for the right developers?
If you haven’t read my blog post about how to kickstart a startup, you should read it first here:
Start with a proper email address. Come up with a business name and get a catchy domain, so it’s not firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. This is the first thing that the developer you contact will see. Your email address is like your clothes. You want to wear a suit or anything else that says you are doing business, not some silly project. You might not be very formal in life, and this will become evident when you start getting to know each other, but the first impression stays, it is very important.
The first thing most good developers will do when you contact them is research based on your email domain. Remember that developers do research every day. For example, I researched a lot at my previous job when dealing with customer issues. I simply copied the error request into Google and tried to get as much information as possible, then replied with the proper answer. This is ingrained, so expect them to find all they can about you.
Even if you are at the very beginning of your startup, you need to look interesting. That means your website needs to look like the next trailer of Star Wars. Developers love Star Wars… and Star Trek… and trailers in general. If the developer looks up your website and all you have there is COMING SOON, you are pretty much screwed and the interest is gone. You need to look cool, like the next big thing.
Our website doesn’t yet show anything about our application or what we are doing, however people get excited to know more. You need to catch the attention of a good developer as much as you need to catch the attention of your potential customer.
I never used LinkedIn much before, which turn out to be a bad mistake. Almost every day I see a fake Indian girl posting, asking for a hire, and to help poor Indian people, and give them hope, and saying they will review your profile. So much spam flying around there, like no other platform, but this is the new telephone book, which you used back in the days for calling maintenance work or any other part of issues you had on a regular basis. Everyone who is really professional in any kind of business will be in this list.
What I did for six month was just looking into iOS & Android Developer groups, finding names of companies, team pages from Albania, Latvia, Ukraine, and so on, mostly avoiding the Asia region for many reasons. This is a huge resource.
Check out hiring agencies in the East European region. You can get top notch agencies and hire your developers, or even project managers if you are not familiar with leading a development team, for around $30 per hour. It took me a lot of time to find the right developer for our project, because knowledge and expertise is so different in so many ways. You have to consider what front-end, back-end, iOS (Swift or Objective-C), Android technologies you want to use. But agencies can help you formulate your requirements and see what kind of people you really need.
One big issue I faced with agencies was that the initial call is usually with a service assistant who has no experience in technology and mostly just tries to give you any developer that is available, to bill some hours for their company right away. If you manage to find a good professional agency, then you will likely have to wait up to two weeks, because as mentioned at the beginning, most good developers are already hired.
AngelList is a platform where startups can set up their profile with all information that is important for future investors or partners. All large startups are listed there. They also provide a recruiting section where you can place your startup jobs and hire interesting people. We didn’t have much luck finding a good developer there, since most of them were looking for equity shares, trying to find their big deal.
Upwork is a platform where you can hire any kind of developer you need. It’s probably the biggest platform for hiring developers, which has its pros and cons. You can post your job openings and get requests right away from devs all over the world. It is the fastest ways to get developers for your needs, although we also didn’t have good experience there.
- The fastest way to hire a developer
- All payment is managed by Upwork, very easy!
- Reviews for the work that the developer has done previously
- Support is very helpful in case of an issue
- Anyone can sign up as a developer
- Everyone thinks that they are the right match for you
- Reviews can be faked
- Reviews of previous work might not be complete, because the data is sensitive
- Developers do most billing wrong
- People give good reviews to each other even if work was not very good
Toptal is kind of a premium platform for freelance developers. They claim they have the top 3% of the best talented developers worldwide. You will start with an initial call with one of their operation managers to understand your project and how much budget you have. Then you will have another call with a more technical project manager, who will provide you some profiles of developers based on your application need. And after that you will start hiring developers with mostly higher hourly rates than “normal”. Toptal is very well structured and pretty easy to understand. You will quickly get to seeing developer profiles and checking out their skills and projects they have worked on.
My personal experience with Toptal was not so amazing. The first developer I hired was from Toptal. I explained them the whole project, with wires, mockups, budget, and we didn’t even get close to some good results in terms of hourly rate. We had $15k for the iOS development at kickoff and the first 2 screens were billed for almost $2k. I quickly understood that although this platform clearly had many professionals in their team, the code wasn’t any better than what a “normal-to-good” developer could produce. And with their rates, we’d have gone dead broke in the first month of development.
Finding a developer is pretty easy… if you want a homepage for your grandma. But finding the RIGHT developer for you project is as hard as finding a partner you want to spend your life with. There are so many things you need to consider like trust, nerd/life balance, persistence, availability, future goals, and interests. I strongly recommend to consider only developers who clearly identify themselves with your project, with your vision of the idea behind it, not with their own vision of the future, and not simply looking for a cool challenge to extend their knowledge.
Also don’t look for a single developer, find two or three to work at the same time and achieve goals faster. Keep a structure in your repo that any developer can understand quickly.
When I started with CHEF.ONE, I put all my effort into one single iOS developer. I was just happy to have one, since you get so excited in the beginning that you forget about all other things you need to consider. Don’t let one developer make decisions for all parts like backend/payment/code implementation structure, without even considering the possible failures that might cause issues in the future. You need a team of developers who constantly consult with each other and you about why and how to implement a specific feature into the project, and what are the risks that could happen. If you have team players who think before they start developing, then you are a huge step closer to your goal.
CHEF.ONE has a large team of 10 developers worldwide participating on this project. Whether it’s Android or iOS, frontend or backend, we are working closely on this platform to build something really great for the people out there, to bring them together. We want to build cool things together in a decent atmosphere of developers/friends around the world. If you are interested in participating in the CHEF.ONE development, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org