Right Skills

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Agency, outsource or do it yourself?

Leonidas Tsementzis

Head of Engineering @ Forward Partners

In the Valid Idea step, getting the right tech skills together to build the first version of the product can be a challenge for a non-technical founder.

As soon as you have formed the basic outline of your product, you have to decide who is going to build it. Ideally, you have already formed a team that can help you, but if you’re just starting out you may want to explore outsourcing to accelerate the product development.

Key takeaways

  • The type of product will influence your options;
  • Freelancers maybe cheaper but beware the project management overhead;
  • For any skill that will form your core advantage, it's best to invest to develop it internally.

Product domain

Some products are easier to outsource, while others are nearly impossible. Technology-enabled companies such as ecommerce tend to be easier to outsource, especially when using an off-the-self platform. Pure tech companies are more difficult to outsource, since the value of the company is based on technological innovation.

Agency vs freelancers

If you have decided to outsource some parts of your product, you can choose between hiring an agency and working with one or more freelancers. Freelancers typically work from a home office, so overhead costs are drastically lower compared to an agency. These savings for the freelancers often get passed down to the client. The main benefit of using an agency is that they usually have all the resources you need – designers, developers, marketeers – and a dedicated project manager so you don’t have to manage each member individually. Managing a tech product is not a trivial task. If you choose to work with one or more freelancers you have to be ready to spend a significant amount of time communicating with every individual to make sure that everyone is on track.

Outsourcing for specific skills

If you already have a team but you need a skill that is not currently fulfilled by your team, you may want to try outsourcing for this specific skill. Usually it’s faster to hire an expert for a specific job, instead of spending the time to learn it internally.  That said, if this skill becomes a core advantage, you should consider investing to learn it internally. Building a team is not an easy task. Similarly, growing a company without your team is not easy either. You can accelerate your product by outsourcing some parts of it, but you should always try to build a strong team.

Useful links

  • Upwork – Find freelancers to work on your project
  • Rent a coder – Find coders to help with your product
Leonidas Tsementzis

Head of Engineering @ Forward Partners

Leonidas is Head of Engineering at Forward Partner and has over ten years experience in software and product development, specialising in full stack development, scalable infrastructures and lean development practices. He has founded two startups and is an advisor to others. He has a strong engineering background, he works closely with our early stage startups on all their technology oriented needs. He’s an open source advocate and frequent speaker at tech events on infrastructure, scalability, performance and lean development.

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