How to Choose a Custom Software Developer for Your Startup

What is custom software development and why does a Start Up need it?

The designing of software applications for a specific user or group withn an organization is called custom software development. Such software is designed specifically to solve the organizations requirements and needs precisely, unlike traditional software which is aimed at a widespread and general audience, available off the shelf. Custom software is typically created just for that specific organization by a third-party developer or in-house group of developers and usually isnt sold to anyone else.

More often then not, a Start Up is based on a pioneering idea which requires implementation of some core concept/idea in the form of a software tool. This idea/concept is usually unique to the start up and hence isn’t available in the market. Hence, a start up or any other organization needing a specific toolset requires to develop its own custom software aimed at solving its own problems or as a tool to achieve its goals.

How to choose a software developer for your startup:

 

Startup Stock Photos

 

Software developers are in higher demand than ever before given the rise in the number of startups and success stories. More and more people are opting for Software Development as a livelihood, and this is good news for everyone, and bad. No longer are companies choosing star developers, instead the developers are choosing their favorite companies, such is the demand for excellent developers. In such an environment, it becomes difficult for startups to find and retain good quality developers at minimal costs, who can easily get six figure jobs in Enterprise IT companies. Although, in recent years, the number of software graduates is increasing significantly, it’s tough even for companies such as Microsoft to hire the right guy for the job.

Just recently, because of the hype of startups, software development is not seen as a means to an end any longer but as something desirable and path to a great life. This change however, will still take some time and is by far not fast enough to satisfy the insatiable appetite for young talent.

In a tech driven environment,such as startups which are heavily technology influenced – Web, iOS, Android, Full-stack, Back-end, Front-end developers and all other kind of fishes in the deep sea of engineers, rule and shape the daily business of such companies. Its not surprising that the speed a startup can operate on mainly depends on their development team. Their skill set, way of collaborating and motivation, defines how fast a badly needed hot-fix is released or the next much-anticipated feature is shipped. Simply put, even if you are lucky (and smart) enough to start your startup with a technical co-founder, the time will arise when you face yourself to expand your tech team and hire new developers.

It might be hard or even costly to attract talented programmers in the USA or UK – there are a lot of countries with highly talented software developer pool who get paid less than half of what their US counterparts are paid. Finding the right candidate is a hard and cumbersome undertaking as miss-hires are expensive and often disastrous for young companies. Equally important is retaining the right employees once youve found them.

Motivate them: While asking a developer to work for little money, you are asking them to make an investment in their company, an investment in time which they could easily get paid well for at some other big establishment. If you can motivate them by sharing why your startup idea is great and will succeed, which might involve sharing your business plans, research etc and most importantly, your dedication. If developers keep turning you down, 3 -4 times, ask yourself whether you are actually approaching the right people with the right vision.

Take time: One of the biggest mistakes founders undertake while hiring developers is to rush the process and in the process settling for non-ideal candidates.Mediocre developers not only  slow you down, they also blow up your costs. It also becomes highly probable that only mediocre developers would want to work for you in the future. Great developers want to work in a great team – bad developers want to look good compared to the others.

Take your time, decide exactly what you need then proceed shortlisting the right candidates with an ideal candidate already in mind.

Make a balanced team: Instead of forming a team with one star developer and other above average developers, make sure that the team is balanced with everyone making a positive contribution. Each of them can have above average skills, their real value however, shows once you put them together in one team.

If you opt for a rockstar developer and a average team, it is highly likely the he would want to run the show himself, which usually doesnt work well for any team, suppressing innovation. Aim for a balanced team, in terms of experience and skills.

Choose young over experienced: While this point is highly debatable, it is very important and depends on your startup idea and toolset chosen to deploy the technology stack. There is no doubt that a highly experienced developer will be more productive, but it is very true that they are very fixed in terms of tools they are comfortable with. If their tools of choice dont match your technology stack you either loose productivity or have to bend your priorities and choose what they feel comfortable with. On the other hand, young and hungry developers are open to working on any technology you choose, and are better at learning it also. They are less likely to have unchangeable working patterns and are more open to learning new skills.

We are not saying that being an expert in a certain area is a bad thing, but if you require an API written in NodeJS and a developer proposes to rather develop it in Ruby because he is more familiar with it –  this should be your signal.

 

January 7th, 2016|Strategy, Technical|