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How to find developers for a startup: Navigating through the early stages of tech startup hiring

Nov 26, 2020 · 6 Min. lesen

Is it hard to find developers for a startup? Well, yes. Startup hiring is the biggest challenge for any founder. As a startup, you can’t compete against mature companies on salary, benefits, or brand even if your business idea is promising hockey stick growth. The majority of tech talent would still prefer joining an in-house development team at a solid company over the risk and uncertainty of a startup.

Despite this, startups launch every day. This proves that finding developers for a startup is hard but doable. In this article, we’ll consider three ways your business can access and leverage tech talent at its earliest stages. At least one of them will definitely work for you.

Network to find a tech co-founder

A programmer who can help you build a startup might already be in your network. Although it's hard to pitch ideas to tech guys, it's still worth trying. This way you can find a CTO co-founder who will agree to help you for equity.

  • Ask your friends and acquaintances for referrals. They may introduce you to entrepreneurial and financially independent software engineers who are willing to launch a startup of their own. Chances are you’ll get buy-in for your idea from the person with complementary skills and enter a co-founding relationship.
  • Engage with the local community or go for virtual networking. Networking at local events, hackathons, and conferences for developers was much easier pre-COVID. Affected by lockdowns even Silicon Valley has lost its vibe and became a calm and empty place. Everybody agrees that the online conferences that came in place of in-person events don’t offer an equal substitute to the previous networking opportunities. Still, virtual networking allows connecting with like-minded people from all around the world. Just try to communicate in chats provided by hosts of the conferences or participate in small-group discussions in Zoom.
  • Join online business and startup communities. Experienced programmers with entrepreneurial mindset often become contributors to the platforms like StackOverflow or GitHub. They also are active in professional groups and chats hosted on social platforms and in messengers. Those people are eager to share their knowledge and often are open to side projects. You can start by asking for advice in such online communities and attract the attention of a potential co-founder or mentor.

The world knows unicorns started by 2–3 co-founders sharing equity, such as Airbnb, Dropbox, or Reddit. Nevertheless starting a product with a tech partner may be complicated by mistrust or tension that accompanies the equity-split negotiation. In most cases, it’s easier to just pay someone to build a minimum viable product (MVP) for you and remain the sole founder of your startup.

Try to leverage young talent

You may not be eager to invest any big money before your idea has been proven. Still, you need to find a programmer for your startup. Think about the graduates who want to gain some experience during the first years out of college. They may be skilled just enough to build a simple MVP for you. You can find grads looking for gigs on startup job boards, like WorkInStartups.com. Although you won’t offer big money, you still have a lot to attract candidates:

  • Become a real-world project in their portfolio. It’s not easy to find the perfect job and launch a career right after college. Some young specialists need to get evidence that will prove their skills to future employers. By hiring them to build an MVP of a real project you let them gain an advantage over their peers and raise their chances to get a great job in the nearest future.
  • Be an alternative to an internship at a big firm. Some graduates would love to embrace the beauty of a startup job early in their careers. They may find it attractive to join a small team, work in a vibrant environment, communicate directly with founders, and learn about entrepreneurship from the first hands. By offering them an internship in your project you can help them gain this unique experience.
  • Present it as a chance to pursue their dream. Many graduates dream big and won’t lose an opportunity to be employee #1 in a startup that may be the next big thing. Even if you split ways after the MVP is done, participating in your project can be their first step towards achieving their dream. They’ll learn from your example about how a startup actually functions and grows.

It is true, however, that hiring interns for your startup is not for tech-heavy ideas. Just as it’s not for proven ideas that need a fast time to market. Having a proven idea and enough money to hire professional startup programmers, go for on-demand talent that doesn’t charge much still guarantees a good result.

Outsource programming for your startup

Outsourcing often precedes hiring the first employee for a startup. For a non-technical founder, the most proven way to give their idea a go is to outsource programming at the early stage. You’ll want to find developers for your startup MVP to be built fast and at a reasonable price. This entails that hiring for a startup may take quite some time. Unless you take a smart approach from the very beginning and hack your way to the best on-demand talent. Here’s how you can do it.

  • Don’t overspend on software consultancies. The bigger and the more famous is a software development agency, the more you’ll have to pay just for their brand. Their business model makes them go for large clients and raise prices to weed out small and short-term projects. Outsourcing from smaller agencies may seem to be a solution. However, in this case, you’ll get just the same quality of service as if you hired a freelancer while still paying some extra margin.
  • Don’t waste time on freelance marketplaces. Despite the huge talent pool available on UpWork, Fiverr, or PeoplePerHour, finding freelance developers on general-purpose marketplaces may present an immense challenge. You’ll have to screen candidates’ hard skills and soft skills on your own. Not being savvy in particular software technology, you can’t evaluate candidates’ quality of code and put yourself at risk of making the wrong choice.
  • Hire effectively on a talent matching network. For now, it’s the fastest way to hire developers for your startup without overspending. Talent matching networks aim to remove pain from your process of finding and hiring independent software engineers. You get introduced to the programmers whose technical skills and work ethic has been verified for you by experts. On top of that, you start cooperation with a free trial period, which allows you to go with the recommended developer risk-free.

Done right, outsourcing developers for a startup has the best benefit-cost ratio. If you want a skilled programmer to start working on your MVP within the next two weeks, leave a talent request on Proxify.io. After a quick brief on your goals and requirements, we’ll connect you to the most suitable candidate from our pool of vetted senior-level developers. With Proxify.io you can secure the best matching talent at rates starting from 29€ / h.

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