Another thing I'd like to see Betatype providing is some sort of franchised coaching and guidance to both the product owner and the developer on how to best set themselves and the other party up for success.
Coaching and guidance isn't a substitute for experience. You can learn about the product lifecycle by reading a book or taking a class, but that doesn't mean you know how to manage it in the real world. Frankly, the number of good developers who can also credibly wear the hat of product manager is much, much smaller than the number of good developers.
If they have a way to make this happen, then it's an amazing product. If not, then there will be a lot of disappointment on both sides.
From a quick look on elance. There are currently 10,344 "Web Developers" with a listed hourly rate. The cutoffs for 50/75/90 percentiles are $15, $25 & $40 per hour. Obviously dance doesn't represent the top earning developers. Elance covers the low end, mostly.
The hourly rate of developers ranges a lot. So does the hourly output. Silicon Valley veterans expect $100-$200 per hour. On a worldwide scale, that's high end free lancing. Jobs usually come by way of personal introductions and relationships.
I totally agree that few are going to turn down a job at Google to build $3500 prototypes.
The gigs you can get as a freelancer for a SV company are not something that most elance developers can compete for. You can't cold call your way into them and you can't get them through a website. Part of the reason is skillet, some of it is cultural. The ability to relate to the person hiring, sell yourself and a whole bunch of other soft reasons play a role too. They can't get to the high end.
A lot of the startups in this space seem to be trying to crack the middle end, which IMO is underdeveloped. My guess is that's the $25-$60 per hour range. This is (as mentioned elsewhere on this thread) rational in the context of average developer salaries in some parts of the world. BTW, $50 per hour X 20-40 hours per week will buy you a great lifestyle.
Also, a freelancer on his 26th $3500 prototype may get pretty good at it. They'll be using suitable tools have methods for coxing ideas out of clients. It is it's own skillet.
1. Elance or ODesk can offer you fixed time, price, and scope, but highly erratic quality.
2. An expensive contracting agency can offer you fixed time, scope, and quality, but with high costs.
3. This site promises fixed cost, and quality, but makes no promises on scope or completion timeline.
All that's left is for someone to make a site that has fixed timing, like "Software Prototypes in One Week". I'll wait for that one to hit the front page of HN. As a developer I'd actually prefer that because I know when it's going to be over.
Looks like someone already did that too: http://protoverstas.com
Quality, Cost and Scope will be "best effort"
Honestly, it might sound silly, but it would be useful. Give a client an idea of what can be done in a week, lets them know what can be off the shelf and what has the be built, etc. Something like $85 an hour @ 3500 a week. Better than spending a week in meetings arguing about scope.
We're not trying to build one-week twitter clones, but well-working prototypes out of unique ideas.
However, my bigger concern is that working out the requirements is being done by someone other than the developer that's going to be working on the project. If you're trying to get something done on a budget, fewer people in the mix is better.
Furthermore, the conversation about product requirements needs to be a two way discussion. Developers are often in a unique position to guide a product owner into what's easy to implement and provides the biggest "bang for your buck." Their early insight can radically shape the product and is not based on what the customer thinks they need, but what the customer communicates their goals are. This is where a consultant can provide serious ROI to a product owner.
For example, trashbin and "i want an ebay clone" elance style requests, and filter out the developers who claim to be able to do it for $500 in 12 days.
That alone would cut down most of the crap you see on sites like elance.
As for their fears (dsrguru posted) about people going out of band to work around 4% for a measly $140 I don't see how that would really come into it as a reason for doing the filtering. $140 is nothing to a developer for a guaranteed payment on completion, its also against the interests of the buyer as they may end up with subpar quality and an angry developer chasing them down for work they didn't really do to a reliable standard.
Sure, there will likely be a few who try to work around it, but really they aren't the target market user to begin with (the i want ebay for 500$!!? types)
So many things can go sideways, and at a 4% take on $3,500 projects, as loosely defined as that is, there is no way this can scale.
Sure there is, limit to what time they spend working on getting projects ready, if they don't meet a certain standard, drop them and give quick 5 second tips to get them back in the queue. If they don't produce a reasonable spec in enough attempts just drop them as a user.
Even the AP had a work around for scaling this further, run at a loss for some time while you identify patterns of failure, produce resources for the user to solve their own problems.
For $140 I could easily spend 10-20 minutes looking at a rough spec and tell you if it is workable for 3500, I'd even be able to put in a few slash points on which features would likely need to be cut.
For some perspective, $3500 @ $50/hour = 70 hours. In other words, 1-3 weeks of dev time.
Since the developer's location is becoming irrelevant I guess that's a reality for developers in general.
The types of developers you want creating your prototypes are those that can justify charging $200+ per hour because they have past business/user experience to truly understand what you want to achieve from your project as opposed to what you've specified.
Also as another has pointed out, justifying 200/hour and beating the competition is very difficult in a world wide market. Those in sv may be able to push that high but I can assure you there is many many developers with the same skill set living in much cheaper economic climates where 50/hour is considered much higher than 200/hour is in sv.
As a university student, this is really pretty great. I will have the opportunity to work on reasonably sized projects, earn some extra cash, and probably build a pretty sweet portfolio. I even think it would be cool to form student orgs around this - have upperclassmen train underclassmen in the art of full stack web-dev, and then have let two underclassmen jump into one of these projects with the guidance of an experienced dev. Finally, split the profits. If any of the founders are reading this, would you be open to something like this?
There's a strong feeling that they're cheating or deliberately misleading when they don't do that.
At market rate for an experienced contract product manager or developer with product management chops, the process of defining functional requirements for a new product will usually entail more than $3,500 worth of work.
1) limited hours - you're talking about somewhere around 20-30 hours of senior dev time or 40-70 hours of a newer devs time. Let's say they can both accomplish the same amount during that timeframe. It's still /not that much/ especially if you are taking any design into consideration beyond popping bootstrap on it.
2) zero iterations. (and this is perhaps a bigger problem, since the first can be solved simply be changing it to a prototype for $10k or whatever) I've never seen even an MVP come out fully baked without a lot of iterations at the beginning. Arguably prototyping is the process of rapid iteration. One and done just doesn't work for what a prototype needs.
Do you have to be from the US to participate in this?
Zero iterations? I think most people would just continue on after the beta, working outside of Betatype.
>20-30 hours of senior dev time
Someone should point the fact that senior devs are on average making $175/hr to Google's Greatest Asset, who recently wondered where to find contracts that yield $100/hr.
Domain was registered today and we can assume the idea was hatched today if not fairly recently.
There is nothing here other than a single page and a way to signup for either a programmer or person with an idea.
This isn't a business it's an idea. Wrapping it in a somewhat acceptably designed website and some marketing speak and seeing HN start to nibble as if it's some real thing actually happening is always interesting.
When is the line crossed between "Show HN" and free advertising for your idea?
Betatype seems like an iteration of this previous site.
Limit the size of the project, limit the size of the investment, limit the cost.
Going forward I expect they will have to do some form of tiering once they see the type of work is in demand, and which type of work is achievable by their developers (which all is still unknown at this point) Example tiers: 500-1000 = quick site, 3500 = mvp, 5000-10000 = soft launch
To be fair, I think the idea would work for different platforms, but perhaps be explicit on the front page.
The company I work for gets people asking for quotes to build their "next big idea", where the person isn't technical but has industry experience behind them.. this has turned out pretty well for some people.
Entrepreneurs who don't code do not need technical co-founders. There are plenty of talented firms and solo developers with product management chops who will collaborate with you to build a product. The entrepreneur pays a fair rate and the service provider delivers a solid foundation on which to pursue the business.
Many if not most of the folks looking to jump into bed with a technical co-founder they have no existing relationship with are doing so because they don't have adequate capital. Undercapitalization is one of the top reasons new businesses fail, so most equity-only/deferred comp. technical co-founder opportunities are unattractive from the start.
I wouldn't like to be a solo founder because it's too much work and stress for one person. I've had this idea for a mobile app (it's a social network game - littlequest.me) for about 2 years now but still haven't done it because I don't have the right co-founder. Mostly because my network is too dispersed I think.
I do have a couple friends with no experience with building mobile apps interested though. Do you think I should team up with them or hire a professional? I really don't like the idea of doing a business by myself though.
The process of negotiating, defining and developing an "prototype" between a client and a freelance developer is hard, for both sides. Often, neither are skilled at managing the process.
Once you limit some aspect of the project, you can adjust the other aspects around the limitation and everything becomes simpler. It's a lot easier to scope a project when the scope needs to fit in a $3500 budget. Simplifying negotiations and decision making could be a big win. Choosing a developer by looking at a portfolio is a lot easier when the scope budgets are the same.
I wonder if this idea could usefully be applied to something outside of software. How about a $3500 (or whatever) custom kitchen.
In your case, the greatest struggle is going to be supplying the marketplace. It makes sense to offer the service at unsustainable margins for now while you seed the market, so I wouldn't worry too much about all the comments talking about how unsustainable it is, and instead focus on the ones talking about the difficulty of building a marketplace.
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My biggest concern, like others have mentioned, is that it seems unscalable with the cut that the company keeps.
> All job postings are required to be as clear and specific as possible, and they're required to pay 1/4 ($625) up front.
This points to conclusion, that the author initially set the price to $2500, but changed to $3500 later.
It's great because it provides big value, and your (i.e. betatype founder, contractor specialising on prototypes, etc) job is to highlight the value because it's not obvious for many. Doing that seems like a fun experience.
Tell the "idea people" that you will sell some seemingly incomplete software which might need to be thrown away for $3500 and they will shrug their shoulders or laugh.
Tell the same people that for $3500 you will help them to find out the potential of their idea for a small price, and they, in the ideal world, should love it. Many of us have worked on some project, which was sort of stealth project and founders spent loads of cash just to find out that no one needs it. All of it could have been avoided for $3500.
But how close the real world is to the ideal world?
I'm in neither market, but I'm very interested to see how this goes, and whether it can be extended to mobile app dev, or longer than 1wk dev projects.
But on the other hand, I see nothing but assurances and a woefully low cut that I can't imagine could keep this train chugging without shoveling time (=money) into the furnace. At ~$140 revenue a pop, if even 4% of projects go off the rails, the "insurance" policy already puts the company in the red -- forget profit.
There is a huge problem to solve here, for sure. I want someone to solve it. But I'm not seeing a solution.
They will help you focus your idea and one of their partners will build the prototype.
I'm the Founder of LaunchYard.com, and we have been successfully helping entrepreneurs from the last 1 and half years to launch their products. For instance: http://launchyard.com/case-studies/albums/
Shoot me a line if anyone wants to learn more. atif at launchyard.com
This sounds like an oxymoron which would imply the two sides of the transaction have separate expectations.
As reasonable developers, do we build out the system, security, data backup plan of a "prototype"? As reasonable buyers do we "launch" an application without them?
What does this mean exactly? My prototype will be connected up to your Stripe account and then you'll transfer the money my app makes to me through periodical bank transfers?
It stopped my sign up immediately.
This business model works well. Congrats.
I have to wonder how they came up with 4% (2% per side). Surely 10-20% is still a reasonable fee to connect these parties and manage the relationship.
Heck, both I and the purchaser pays 10% to an auctioneer to sell my stuff in < 60 seconds (yes, I know they do a little more than that… but mostly it's about supplying the marketplace).
We're a site that pairs contract programmers with clients. Specifically, we're a marketplace where clients buy prototypes for $2,500.
Has people given up on SSL (and any security for that matter) already because of Heartbleed? I guess I can hear some people talking: "We don't need SSL! Not having it is pretty much the same, but with less overhead!"
Seriously, without SSL, you are Beta at best. And if you have been operating like this for a while, well that's terrible... Your users should be very concerned.
> Programmers get get paid to implement a well-defined spec.
Looking forward to this.