While software is said to be eating the world, software developers and other technical talent remains in short supply. Not only is this seeing major tech companies compete hard to hire the best engineers, but it has also meant a rise in the use of remote working freelancers or turning to offshore agencies. The problem with either solution, however, is the same: how to ensure outsourced work will be of high quality and that the individuals working on your project will be a good fit with the rest of your team.
Enter YouTeam, a U.K. startup and recent graduate of Y Combinator, which has created what it calls a marketplace for offshore talent. The company’s platform connects individual developers at agencies (and large companies that have spare developer capacity) with companies needing to add to their own development teams through outsourcing. In this way the aim is to bridge the gap between hiring an individual freelancer and the added vetting and accountability using an agency affords.
“Numerous times in our former companies we were let down by our software development partners and suppliers,” YouTeam co-founder and CEO Anton Mishchenko recalls. “For starters, it’s hard to objectively identify a reliable company because there is no unified industry standard for doing so. Secondly, it is impossible to know whether a company has the right team for the project because they rarely disclose information about their engineers until the contract is signed. Thirdly, the interests of the client and the supplier can often fork in different directions and so there is often limited trust, especially in the beginning of their relationship”.
To mitigate this, the YouTeam marketplace features profiles of individual developers at the agencies it has partnered with on the supply-side. Instead of simply hiring an agency and entering a crapshoot in terms of who will become part of your outsourced team, the idea is to contract with named individuals at the agency, either for a set amount of time or throughout a much longer-term project.
For the agency worker themselves, they arguably get a reliable and potentially more interesting stream of work without the hassle of spending time looking for and pricing the next gig. For the company seeking to outsource development work, they benefit from the vetting a reputable agency provides, and the fact that YouTeam sits in the middle, including taking payment and handling any disputes.
“In many offshore markets in Europe, Asia and Latin America local development agencies are the gateway to the best talent,” says Mishchenko. “But the way the market works is completely wrong. Our bet is simple: it is people that matter much more than companies, and so you should meet the people first. And that’s exactly what happens on the YouTeam platform. First you find engineers that you want to work with – and only then you get to meet their agencies. So now employees also have a say over which projects they want to work on”.
Noteworthy is that, until entering YC, Mishchenko and YouTeam’s other founders Yurij Riphyak (CPO) and Nikita Voloshyn (CTO) had bootstrapped the company to £500,000 in annual run rate revenue without any external investment. They are now on the verge of closing a seed round, if it hasn’t already happened.
Meanwhile, aside from hiring an agency direct, Mishchenko says competitors broadly fall into two camps. Freelancer platforms, which are mostly for short-term projects, and supplier recommendation platforms, which help match you to an agency but are “ineffective when you need to find the right team”.
“Shortage of engineering talent is one of the key problems the tech industry is facing today,” he adds. “We believe such shortage can be avoided when companies know where and how to look. Most of the time this involves learning to navigate other countries’ labour markets and finding reliable suppliers which is hard and time-consuming. We are the only solution that help clients throughout the whole journey from learning how to start their remote operations to scaling their development centre”.