Written by Žiga, Ljubljana, 2020
So I’ve been working with different startup founders for quite some time now, and many of those have had previous bad experiences with teams they chose to work with. Maybe you are one of them even. There is no right and wrong here but there are still some general orientations that I tend to lean on when looking for outside help.
I’m writing this with a product team in mind, specialized in building software products. That being said I do believe that similar points can be made for other professional fields as well.
This is the key. Communication alone can be a breaking point between success and failure. If your requests get lost in translation, if communication is not agile enough then your ideas won’t be heard, your product will not be up to the standard you imagined. On the other hand, teams with good communication skills often unlock the full potential of your idea and you will be presented with additional viewing angles. Which is a good thing, right? You shouldn’t say no to a free hour of consulting.
You know when you feel like people that work on your product care about it, and are doing everything for your startup to succeed? This is exactly what you’re looking for. An agency or a studio will rarely be working on your product alone, but that does not mean that they can’t be fully dedicated to your product when the latter is on their schedule. Ask about their time, project, and resource management. This will give you a rough idea about how important your project is to the team you’re hiring.
You need technically advanced people. You are looking for specialized know-how in most cases (either design, development, sales, or communication). If the team is young and there is still a portfolio to be built, let them show some proactivity, let them impress you with creativity and modern tech standards. Don’t look for lists of technologies and tools only, look for a problem-solving way of thinking. Throw them a curveball and observe how they find a way towards the light.
Look for hidden costs! Even if the initial offer is below budget and you are rushing to sign the contract, be aware that building a tech company is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. There are substantial costs involved when scaling and maintaining your product. Sometimes paying a little extra at the beginning pays off in the long run.
Building products can be an amazing hobby if you do it right it will turn into the most amazing job you’ve ever had.
Co founder of Shape