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Show HN: Bootstrap your startup with high end gigs (grouptalent.com)
71 points by whather 2074 days ago | hide | past | web | 46 comments | favorite

So, I read the title and it looks AWESOME. Perfect! I thought. Just what I needed. A platform that obviates the need for me to seek funding.

Just to be taken through the application to be told on the last screen that they will be prioritizing startups that have gone through incubator programs.

That's very annoying and misleading.

Had I known that, I wouldn't have spent the time it took to fill out the 4 pages of application.

You guys should have been more upfront with that.

Other than that, this looks very promising - but you need to clearly articulate who you are looking for. Is it 'premium accelerated' startups? Or TRULY bootstrapped startups?

Not to poo poo on anyone's parade, but if you go through a startup accelerator that can be hardly considered 'bootstrapping'.

Edit: Also, do you guys pair up people? For instance, I am a single founder and I can do all the development - but I am not a designer. Can you guys supply a designer for me to work with?

Edit 2: Kudos on not adding (YC class number) to the title. I prolly wouldn't have clicked it, to be honest.

100% agree about them clarifying who the program is for. They say bootstrappers, but then prioritize for those in incubators which I generally don't call bootstrappers.

Thanks for the feedback marcamillion!

The wording on the last page of the wizard is old and should be changed. We are focused on accepting talented startup teams and knowing a team went through an incubator program does help vet them. We're not only accepting startups who are funded by an incubator program.

Our target market startup is one who was a finalist in a distinguished incubator program (top 50 or so). They've built a good product as a team, didn't quite make it in, but now need some bootstrapping cash to keep them going before raising a round of funding (if they choose to do so).

Oh, and our vision of the product is to allow team building within the site. A project is posted and they want 2 developers and 1 designer. If you're a developer, you could fill a developer slot and invite another dev/designer in your network or have us recommend one.

Why would a non-accepted start-up still be given a preference over one that never applied?

Is there something magic about applying for an incubator that makes teams that do so better at their game?

An 'unknown' losing to a 'failed' may cut off the lows but it also cuts off the highs!

Wow, this could be pretty awesome as a way for potential cofounders to find each other and work on a project together to see if they jive with each other.

Totally. It could even turn into a startup pre-incubator where your team can be vetted by working on a couple short-term gigs together (all while making money).

One more thought...going through the application process it seems like you guys might be going for an hourly rate.

As a single founder, I would much rather flat-rate projects. I don't have the time, nor interest, in tracking time.

I know what I want to make every month, based on the scope of the project I can generally tell how long that will take. So I can budget my monthly income that way.

So I hope that if you are going the hourly way, at least you have an alternative to bid on projects individually.

The feedback we've been getting from employers is that they're much more comfortable paying on an hourly basis. They're worried about a team abandoning a project half way through, etc.

We're exploring different ways to charge for projects as we move forward.

+1 to the previous comment: time is an illusion, billable hours doubly so.

You know what would be great? A trusted-third-party for judging whether a project meets its requirement milestones, and payments escrow to make sure that the money is actually there when it does ...

That's interesting. Isn't one of your primary benefits (from the employer point of view) the fact that you are a premium supplier of great talent? "Great talent" including "reliable"? If not, what separates you from any other freelancer website?

Yes, and that's the primary reason we chose startups as a source of talent. They're a highly skilled, self-sufficient "swat team" that already have proven team fit.

Nonetheless, renting a startup or (team for that matter) is still a new concept for employers and they are used to paying an hourly rate for consulting gigs. If we start to see way more demand for flat-rate project from startups, we'll move in that direction.

This is really cool, but is 2 days too late.

Last Sunday my co-founder and I published a page [http://bootstrap.getblimp.com] to get gigs in order to bootstrap our startup. So far we got a few good leads for jobs we can do on weekends without taking time off the startup.

Awesome, nice looking site too. We feature both full-time and part-time projects, so feel free to fill out a startup profile anyways if you need work after your current gig.

Services work for startups? Services is a distraction to startups. Also, if I wanted to go that route, I could get my own services work or use an agency. Am I missing something here, guys?

True, but raising money is also a big distraction and can kill a startup. It really depends on the startup team and the route they want to go, whether raise money or bootstrap. Plus, you don't have to take a full-time project. You can choose to work 2-3 days a week or even weekends.

Going through an agency is fine, but they usually don't cater to team gigs and they take a pretty big percentage of your rate.

I ran an interactive services agency that tried to bootstrap products with services. It doesn't work. The time consumption of doing services is far too great a commitment to adequately perform the duties required to make your startup a success.

Comparing fund raising time commitment to ongoing contract work is not apples to apples. Fund raising takes time, but it's time spent on your startup. Also, it's a one or two time thing, not the unending time suck that is services.

There's a reason there are innumerable posts about the failures of bootstrapping products with services.

On the flip side, as a client I would be quite weary of hiring a startup team to do a project. If the startup takes off (even a bit) then be damn sure that startup team is out like the gout! There's not much incentive to complete the gig.

Not trying to be negative here, but I see a lot of holes in this business.

Startups can't always go straight after fundraising. When my team an I were iterating on product for the first 4 months, we had to pay the bills. My two cofounders both have kids, and one has a mortgage. I have a mortgage too. Tell me exactly which VC is going to give a team with a crazy idea a bunch of money? How many checks like that have you seen written to such early stage non-serial entrepreneurs?

So you know what we did? We all spent 3-4 days a week on contracting gigs, and the other 3-4 days a week working on our product together. Aside from the fact that we really didn't see eachother for half the week (which sucked because communication broke down), the contracting worked great. I set up expectations with my client and did some amazing work for them, and in the same week we made great progress on product.

Is it ideal? No. But does it keep the lights on and the health insurance paid and food on the counter? Yes. Assuming that everybody who decides to start a company has $50k saved up in their account is ludicrous.

And you know what? If we could have worked on the same project when we were bootstrapping rather than different ones, our communication and camaraderie would have been a lot better.

I completely agree that if you have a good deal of runway through savings or venture capital, staying heads down and avoiding distractions is the right move. But Christeso, that's not what this product is for. It's for all the other guys who need to hustle and scrape together enough money to keep going.

This is genius. Great idea! We took contract work to pay for an employee at my last startup and it worked out pretty well (until they stopped paying). He would work for them ~2 days a week, and that would cover his salary for the whole week. Basically, we got a free employee 3 days a week + his input and expertise.

Although this approach is a little bit distracting, it can be much less distracting that raising capital and dealing with bad investors. I would recommend it to any early stage startup.

I wondered if this might be a better angle - an ability to hire someone for a specific day each week. Not going to suit everyone, but it would mean that startup types could work the other 3-4 days without being distracted by the other project.

Otherwise, replacing a day job with a contract job might not be the biggest gain.

Thanks cmer! Yeah, investment can be super distracting. We spent around 5 months talking to investors for our last startup back in '08, when we could have been bootstrapping on a gig.

Just curious, how did you find your last contacting job? Did you work as a team or just allocate 1 person to do it?

Basically, there was one guy I wanted to hire but I simply couldn't afford it at the time. I found the contract through someone I knew. That new employee was the only person working on that contract. The rest of the team never touched the project. I only had to do some minor management work on it, talk to client, etc.

We didn't charge a whole lot but it was enough to cover most of his salary. We're not in California and salaries are lower here.

Very, Very interesting concept. This is very much what I've been thinking of doing with my new company rivvir.com. Thanks for verifying the business model!

Seriously though, my focus was on doing something like this to cultivate the Houston Startup scene(there isn't much of one yet but there seems to be simmering pot and few really good start ups.) Blog posts here:


We did this at my first startup and it worked really well. However, it's also really useful to be able to just pimp out one of your teammates. For instance, on our team, one of the guys had much more serious of a resume than the rest and could easily bill at $150/hr. That supported 2 of us full time and himself part time... Adding individual contracts would be great as well for that purpose.

Yeah definitely. We allow you to post your startup with any number of your founders. You can post a startup with only a single founder. And some of the smaller projects could easily be pumped out with a single talented dev.

How do you source your gigs?

Having quality clients is as important as having quality developers.

Most of the gigs we've gathered thus far have been through industry connections and relationships through previous agencies (many from the northwest). We manually evaluate and screen every employer/project submitted, as we know it's a pain in the ass to sift through crappy projects.

This strategy will work for the first few projects but how will you attract more quality gigs to feed the army of startups that will knock at your door :)?

You are faced with the same challenge a normal web dev shop faces: how do I get more quality gigs? Except that you have to get enough gigs for a lot of teams or you will end up serving the same teams over and over again.

I sincerely wish you success as I am interested by your concept (although I am based in Australia and my startup is not part of any premium incubator).

Totally agree. As of right now, our business in its current state isn't hugely scalable. We're high touch on both sides of the table. As we begin to scale, we'll have to make sure we maintain both talented startup teams and high quality projects. Because talent is in such high demand, it makes more sense to limit the signup of talented startups first and cater to the demand from employers. Then, slowly grow the startup pool.

Oh and one for my co-founders has connections in Australia if you're interested.

I love the idea of getting gigs without having to go get them myself. Can single person devs shops apply too?

yeah we currently don't restrict startup team size. Past project experience plays a big role in vetting the team (in your case, a team of 1).

Serious question:

As a client, why would I want to hire a team that I know is focused on something else? I don't want my project to be treated as a means to an end for the startup to achieve their dream.

How are you going to address this kind of apprehension?

> As a client, why would I want to hire a team that I know is focused on something else?

Everyone is focused on something else. If not a side project or a startup, an SO or a hobby.

By definition, if you are paying someone money, they are focused on something else.

Most of the startups that are signed up have requested to work on short-term gigs (1-2 months long) full-time. Meaning, they focus on their contracting gig full-time and their startup part-time during that period. We only accept short-term projects on the platform, ranging from a week to 3 months tops.

Also, we've seen larger startups (4 or more people) that need to bootstrap tend to only give up a portion of their team to take a contracting gig while the rest of the team focuses on the startup. Not unlike raising a round of funding.

This may happen every time you are working with contractors and freelancers. You obviously know they are focused on something else, like their own careers, but still, it makes sense to hire them because they get your stuff done.

Full disclosure, I'm doing something similar right now, and the employer we are working for is truly satisfied with what we're doing.

There are many different kinds of high end gigs. Some people just need one single problem solved in a short time and are willing to pay for that.

If you have something that needs to be built and you want a long term commitment you should simply hire experts as full time employees.

Many great bootstrapped startup do this, but who has the time to solicit new projects. This solves a huge problem. Nice work guys.

Thanks Peter! Yeah we had this problem while working on our last startup. It's hard to find quality short-term gigs that pay you market rate, and that you can work on as a team. ODesk and elance weren't worth our time.

Hey guys, we just launched a platform to match top startups with high end projects. We're focused on supporting startups that would rather take on a short term consulting gig than raising a round of funding. We'd love some feedback. Thanks!

What if we went through an incubator, but it didn't work out (company dissolved)?

Assuming you guys are still together, then your team is still vetted. An incubator isn't required though, just helps us gauge talent. You should still apply.

Will it handle teams out of the US?

+1 on this question...I can't see why they wouldn't allow it though.

We are currently focused on startups in the states but definitely sign up if your team is talented. We do get approached with quality gigs both in the states and overseas.

I think the real question is, does the startup have to be registered in the US?

For instance, I live in Jamaica, but my startup is registered in Delaware (with a full blown US presence - bank account and all).

Would I 'qualify' given that I could be considered remote (i.e. use Skype and communicate via email)?

I can understand why you would want the Projects to be US-based (quite frankly, that's what I am looking for), but I don't see why the team would have to be US-based.

A concern employers have with teams outside the US is the time-zone mismatch. Because Jamaica doesn't have this issue, and your company is registered in Delaware, definitely sign up.


My company name is in my profile.

Let's see what happens.

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