by James Zhao, co-founder of Thinking & Function
As the founder of a startup, you have all the vision and business acumen you need to make your brand successful. But what’s the best way to find the right technical know-how to bring your product to life? Is it better to take the time to train in-house developers, or should you use outside help to get things up and running faster? And what about standard solutions?
There are advantages and disadvantages for everyone. So let’s take a look at your options and how to get the most out of the resources available.
Build on an existing team.
The first way is to build the technical skills in your existing team. After all, you have a team of people who share your values and are passionate about your brand’s mission. So why not use it?
There are many benefits to developing your in-house expertise, especially in the long run. Your team, of course, has a deep understanding of your product, which means that they are able to develop it with a clear sense of where it’s going, who its users are, and how best to add value. In these early days of product life, this understanding is very valuable.
But perhaps the biggest benefit is that as your team gains more skills, the company continues to reap the rewards as long as these people stay with you. When you start scaling, they know your brand inside out and are great advocates of your product.
The downside is that training your existing team is a long-term investment and you may not start out with all of the skills you need. This will make the startup time much slower and your MVP may take longer to develop.
Also, keep in mind that while your team is excited about your shared vision, it doesn’t necessarily mean they can motivate themselves. This is why it’s so important to hire people who share the same vision so that you don’t spend all of your time motivating them. When looking for team members who will be with you for a while, finding someone who is a perfect fit with your culture and values is just as important as finding someone with great technical skills.
Borrow from the outside.
If the structure of your existing team doesn’t fit your MVP timescale, you may need to hire freelancers or agency developers.
While your team is taking time to develop, borrowing skills from outside resources can instantly provide you with the technical expertise you need. You also have someone who is able to self-manage and self-deliver – you can easily verify this by looking at testimonials from previous clients or reviews on freelance platforms.
The biggest disadvantage is that agency contracts and daily rates for freelancers are definitely more expensive than the salaries for your existing team. You not only acquire the essential technical skills, but also more flexibility. It’s worth noting that agencies cost more than freelancers, but those additional costs come with an added value: quality is checked and managed in the end, so you waste less time on poor resources or settings.
As a startup, you want to grow fast, and that means six months from now you may need different skills than you do now. Borrowing from the outside gives you access to the expertise you need instead of relying on your in-house team to respond to each new challenge. Startups need to scale and shrink quickly to respond to the market, and outside resources allow you to do this much better than training from within or hiring more full-time employees.
With this in mind, we at Thought & Function offer mixed resources. With five experts in their field, we can adapt the support we offer to your location. If you need more project management one month and more technology the next month, we can offer that flexibility.
Bypass the process and buy a solution.
Alternatively, you may be able to find a pre-built solution for your MVP’s technical needs. These come in many forms. This could mean paying for a standard service like Shopify, using free open source code, or buying a “white label” solution that you can rename as your own. They all give you a starting point that has already been developed so that you don’t have to create everything from scratch.
Using an out-of-the-box solution can give you a lot of peace of mind because you are using software that is already proven to work and has its own support, security and maintenance. It also costs less upfront and less time to get to market, so you can test your assumptions and business model sooner.
You play here, however. Depending on the platform, you usually don’t have detailed control or ownership of the underlying code to customize, which may limit you in the future. You are also completely dependent on the service – if it fails, so will your product.
Even if the purchase of a standard solution may be cheaper at the beginning, there are ongoing costs for many, e.g. B. Subscription Fees and Commissions on Sales. Make sure you take into account how much is going to build up in the long run before making your decision.
Wait a minute. What about hiring a technical manager?
Whether you want to build in-house or draw from the outside, you always need someone on your team and that is a technical co-founder. If you are not technically open-minded, your product can become a kind of black box. You therefore need someone with the right expertise to navigate the technology and take care of your developers.
The ideal technical co-founder is someone who is aligned with your goals and values and who is incentivized to add long-term value to your business. Most importantly, you have to be someone who can grow with the business – someone who has the technical skills to start with and who can lead your technical department in the future.
James Zhao started his career as a software developer. He was a co-founder four years ago Thinking & Function Here he brings commercial and product expertise together – along with an understanding of the start-up process – to give start-up founders the start they need: advice on strategy, handling of marketing and sales while he is still in the construction process.