Airpair, a newly launched service which connects entrepreneurs and expert developers over remote online sessions, aims to help startups build better software and speed their time to launch. The idea’s name, which brings to mind “pair programming” techniques, offers its users one-hour screensharing sessions where developers will help review your code, brainstorm architecture, assist with problems, and more.
This talent marketplace was started by founder Jonathon Kresner just around a month ago, who says he really needed a service like this at his previous companies. It’s also especially helpful for single-person startups who don’t yet have a co-founder or an engineering team in place.
The service currently supports all languages, but there hasn’t been a large volume of calls during its pre-launch state. Kresner says that the company has done seven calls between developers and entrepreneurs so far. All of these have been paying customers in the range of $30 to $90 per hour, but the developers are currently setting their own rates for their services as pricing has not yet been set. In the future, Kresner says he wants to charge an extra fee to find a developer to pair with within six hours.
Explaining why airpair is different, Kresner says, “you’ve never been able to access people with the exact experience you need and hire them for as short as one hour.”
“Airpair experts don’t build for you,” he adds. “This is a really important differentiation from services like oDesk or Elance. Because the engagements are short and expectations are to teach, rather than build, we can connect startups with already employed high-quality talent they would otherwise not have access to.”
The process starts with the customer providing details about the technologies they’re using in their project and what challenges they want to solve. Next, airpair runs an algorithm to find matches in its developers network, and sends the brief to those who then confirm they have the experience and skills required. Finally, it distills the list down to five recommendations at different price points for the customer to choose from.
This is a really interesting service, as it aims to formalize and create a marketplace around what people are already doing: asking for help with code. Not everyone has a large enough network to tap when they get stuck and need a leg up. Or even when they do, it can be hard to impose on a friend who may be just as busy as you, working at their own startup or business, for example. Assuming airpair can get enough quality developers on board to participate, it could prove to become a helpful resource for early stage startups.
R. Bryan Hughes of LogicalCat was one of airpair’s early adopters, and shared this feedback about his experience, saying:
Following a brief description of my project with airpair, I was able to choose Peter Lyons, a developer with great credentials and expertise that matched my goals. He was able to quickly translate the requirements from my existing Ruby project into a more streamlined iteration in Node.js. He patiently explained some arcane aspects of Node and cemented the abstract tutorials I had done to real-world examples. Peter followed up the sessions with outlines and code examples–I didn’t expect that and really appreciate it now that I’m writing new code. Perhaps the most valuable result is that I now know that my project’s overall re-design has been vetted by a professional.
And all of that happened in just three hours over two sessions.
Airpair is currently a super lean, bootstrapped startup. Its website is asking for sign-ups from interested entrepreneurs and developers via Google Docs forms (which TechCrunch has been known crash in the past – so be warned). Kresner is also looking for a co-founder, he says. More info and example sessions are here.