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Ever had an awesome idea but lacked the access to skilled developers to build it?
If you don’t live in a hotbed of start-up activity like Silicon Valley or have a vast social circle that includes software engineers, how do you go about recruiting developers to work at your startup?
You may decide to solve these issues by turning to freelancing sites such as Odesk, Elance, Rent-a-coder and others. However, there is some debate on the level of skill available on these sites. So the problem of qualifying the candidates still remains.
One start-up, founded by two non-technical entrepreneurs, took a creative but highly structured approach to overcoming this challenge. Ian Crosby, co-founder of 10sheet – a super-fly digital bookkeeping start-up – shared the process they used whilst successfully recruiting their superstar developer.
To put it into context, 10sheet’s service allows users to ‘create their books’ aka their Financial Statements using some pretty cool technology. Users can connect their bank accounts, credit cards etc., upload documents and receipts and presto! Financial statements and other relevant reports! Yes, it’s that simple. Creating simplicity for a user typically means investing in ninja-grade technology skills and so the team of two began their search. Here is the approach they used in assembling their tech team:
- Find a ‘Qualifier’ – One of the first things Crosby did was turning to Odesk to hire a seasoned developer to act as a Technical Recruiter. He was paid about $30 per hour to help the duo figure out all the skill-sets they needed to put their technology together, i.e. what skills to look for, what could be outsources vs. what needed to be in-house etc.
- Be proactive – Post jobs on Odesk, Elance etc. but make sure to send private messages to as many interesting prospects as possible. Remember to make your messages creative because good developers are always in demand.
- The Coding Challenge – Another task of the Technical Recruiter was to create coding tests and the first round of candidates were simply required to submit a word document via email with the solution. This made sure that only people that were serious about the job made it to the next round.
- The ‘Live’ Coding Challenge – In the final round of interviews the top 5 candidates would each be scheduled for a 45 minute session of live coding via Skype where they would again be asked to solve a test. This allowed the Technical Recruiter to judge which candidates really knew their stuff vs. who might have ‘googled’ the answer to the previous test.
The co-founder’s diligence paid off when they were recently accepted to TechStars NYC beating about 1500 applicants to land one of the coveted 14 spots in their 2012 class. Crosby attributes a large part of their success at getting in to the strength and skills of their entire team.
Do you have any experiences of recruiting developers at your startup? Please share in comments below.