As an entrepreneur, knowing how to find a developer for your startup, to transform your business vision into a tangible product, is one of the most important decisions you’ll face.
In this article, I’ll cover the process of figuring out how to find a developer for your startup.
But first, let’s talk about the importance of having some basic tech knowledge under your belt.
Understanding the Conversation with Startup Developers
As a non-technical founder, interviewing potential startup developer stakeholders can be a daunting task. It’s made easier if you are tech-savvy enough to follow the conversation…
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting you learn to code (far from it). As a non-technical entrepreneur, you should be focused on the business vision for your startup. Learn the basics of tech, as many technical decisions double up as business decisions.
Here are some concepts you should learn, to ensure you can make educated tech-related decisions surrounding your startup:
- Mobile vs Web
- Frontend vs Backend
- Basic web concepts (HTTP, IP, URL & DNS)
- Authorization & Authentication
There are several resources online that can help you do this for free, with Codeacademy being a great example.
Once you understand the basics of tech, it’s time to look for potential startup developers. But, how to find them?
How to Find a Developer For Your Startup: The Process
#1 Know What You’re Looking For
The first step in finding the right startup developer for you is to know what language or architecture your project needs.
Hiring the most suitable candidate will result in better performance and higher achievements. You have to ensure it’s someone you can train to align with your goals. Investing in your employees’ growth is crucial to the success of your projects.
The best way to discover which language/tech stack you need, is to look at your competitors. Most likely, you’ll be looking to use a similar tech stack to them.
#2 Look in the Right Place
There are several places online to find a developer for your startup.
You may try developer-centric online resources like AngelList and CoFoundersLab – both a great place to start. Platforms like these are filled to the brim with talented developers, waiting to apply their skills to a new project.
Or, if you’re feeling a little more flexible, you could look for tech meetups in your local area using platforms such as meetup.com, and have the chance to network with the professionals there.
It’s also worth keeping an eye out for other tech events, hackathons, or conferences – anything that keeps your business in the know.
Finally, make sure to keep growing your network and reach out to connections who may be able to put you in touch with a startup developer. If anyone will know how to find a developer for your startup, it’ll be the connections that have already done it – successfully!
#3 Look for People with Similar Expertise to You
While we would all love to onboard Steve Wozniak, you probably don’t have the budget for it right now.
Joking aside, you should find a startup developer who is in a similar place to you in their career. Consider you and your outsourced developer as equals – finding someone with similar expertise to you helps you begin that relationship on the same page and grow together.
It will also make your life a whole lot easier.
Let’s say you’re a founder straight out of college: a seasoned startup developer with a stable job and good salary probably won’t want to take the risk on a shiny, new project like yours – regardless of how exciting it may be.
Alternatively, if there’s a startup developer hanging around, who just so happens to have graduated at the same time as you, they’ll probably be hungry to put their mark on a new project. Hence, they will be much more likely to join your team.
#4 Commit to the Search
As I mentioned at the top of the article – knowing how to find a developer for your startup is one of the most important things you can do as a founder.
So, don’t rush. Most likely, this will be one of the first hires you’ll make for your startup – so do it right!
The developer you hire will be responsible not just for the technical aspect of your product, but also to help you build the culture for your entire company. Look for someone with not just the right technical skills, but the right soft skills for your startup’s values.
I recommend getting to know any potential candidates personally before officially hiring them.
For you, this means committing a meaningful amount of time to the search – half an hour every now and then just isn’t going to cut it.
Allocate at least a quarter of your week (shall we say, 8-10 hours minimum) on sourcing and interviewing startup developers.
#5 Start with a Trial Run
When you think you’ve found the right developer for your startup business, it’s going to be tempting to start drawing up a permanent contract straight away.
My advice? Don’t.
Instead, start with a trial run.
Set up a one-month contract to test the waters with them. During this time, simply pay them for the work they do (but, don’t allocate equity just yet).
This will show you whether or not they have the right:
- Technical skills to build your product
- Soft skills to embody and grow your company culture.
Have regular one-on-one meetings with your developer to ensure everyone is on the same page at all times. Doing this will prevent miscommunications that could lead to frustration during the project – then, once they’ve passed that month’s trial, you can then consider a permanent contract.
That being said, before drawing up any contract I recommend seeking legal advice from a lawyer who has experience dealing with startups.
#6 Don’t Be Surprised if You Don’t Get It Right the First Time
Even after knowing exactly how to find a developer for your startup, there may be a chance that you don’t get it right the first time. That’s okay – you’re human!
Onboarding the wrong developer isn’t the end of the world – simply go your separate ways, and learn from the experience! Refine your search and try again.
And, if you’re really struggling to find the right person for the job, freelance developers are always available.
#7 Hiring a Freelance Developer
Hiring a freelance developer is a great flexible solution to growing your startup in its early stages. No matter what niche or skill you’re looking for with your web development, there are a plethora of platforms and web development services where you can find them.
For more information on onboarding the right freelancers for your startup – check out this full guide.
Thanks for reading.