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Gigster (YC S15) Does The Dev Work To Turn Your Idea Into An App (techcrunch.com)
115 points by rogerdickey on July 22, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 188 comments



Just because you hide a software consulting shop behind an app doesn't mean you can change the fundamental difficulties with software consulting. I wish Gigster luck, but ultimately this approach isn't much different from what many offshore dev shops do today. I can get a quote in under an hour from a half dozen places today; but it doesn't mean it will be accurate or what I want.


Wait, isn't Roger Dickey an investor in Toptal? I certainly read or heard this somewhere. That would be pretty odd (and unethical) if he is an investor in Toptal creating what seems to be a direct competitor. It's actually on his LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rogerdickey "Investments: Docker, Toptal, Addepar, Classdojo, OpenGov, Wanelo, Vulcun, iCracked, Facebook (2nd market)"


Actually I don't think these guys are really a competitor to Toptal. They're a competitor to the guys that Toptal was trying to under-cut by allowing you to bypass the overhead of a more full-featured development shop (project managers, etc).


I agree that they're not a competitor, but they are highly complementary. It could be that the sourcing that makes this model possible is taken straight from Toptal (and if so, great way to capitalize).


This. Nothing has changed from going to upwork or freelancer or whatever, except rather than many bidders to chose from you just have one.


The thing that has potentially changed (if they can really pull it off) is the ability to get a reliable quote for any particular project in a few minutes. Any technical manager can duplicate the process of building out a project plan and lining up the cheap resources to get it done (and recruiting from schools or whatever), but being able to scope a project reliably, let alone estimate its cost, basically on the fly is a real challenge. If they've actually solved that, then this is awesome. If not, then it's probably just the same as paying someone to use ODesk (or Upwork or whatever they call it now) for you.


If they can do that, then they have found a magic bullet for one of the biggest problems in software development. I have a suspicion that's the real problem they're trying to solve, so they're "doing things that don't scale" to try to engineer a platform that solves for that problem. That's the only way VCs would throw money at a business model like this.

I wish them luck, but I just think there are too many variables that getting a large enough sample size would bankrupt them before they approach a workable solution.


Presumably, Gigster has already curated the top resources into a brand you can trust for the projects that they specialize in (and which you want done).


Also they might have a library in place for speed development. Startup of services have all the same set of core needs


So does Infosys, Tata, Wipro, IBM, Cognizant, etc. They all have rapid prototyping frameworks for mobile/web apps, and can churn out something functional in under a week. This is a commodity product already offered by a number of scaled players. Their chances of breakout success are zero.


Their libraries are more geared toward big startups needing a major player, this service seems more inclined to garage dreamers, big difference in scope can make huge impact


I just can't see garage dreamers plunking down that kind of cash without guarantees. Invariably people will try to get out of paying for whatever reason (chargebacks, non-payment, etc) and at these dollar amounts and margins it doesn't make a lot of sense to try to collect. IMO the biggest problem in this end of the market is keeping your AR above water.


find a technical co-founder if you want to make a startup work.

::::there are always exceptions::::


Productizing a highly demanded service is a reasonable business.


It's not "productized"; it's exactly the same as the thousands of other companies that do this. I'm not saying they won't make money (it's actually a pretty profitable business), but this is not a business model that scales geometrically. It's also a really, really crowded space where relationships, project management and financial discipline (aka staying on top of your collections from day 1) are bigger factors of success than a fancy app or good customer service. Those functions don't even scale linearly, and because they're account management functions, you can't farm them off to a computer system unless you're cool with never getting paid.

Again, I know a half dozen companies off the top of my head that provide the exact same service. Just instead of a website, I have an account rep I can e-mail or call and get even more personalized service. And I can choose if they source developers from China, India, Argentina, Colombia, Ukraine, etc. based on price. Their PMs handle the intake and return a product within a specified time period. What's novel about this?


Well, I can think of one and its name starts with "g". I've done Elance/odesk several times and its far from pleasant.


I'm thinking of something a little more full-service than that. There are a number of small contract dev shops that will do end-to-end product development. I've had fully designed apps churned out in as little as 6 weeks for under $50k, and they handled design, project management, QA, requirements gathering, etc.

The problem is that you have to find companies like this, and they tend to be small because the model doesn't scale past a certain point -- once you expand past a few teams, it becomes very difficult to control quality. Customers get upset and refuse to pay, which causes a cash flow problem. The best way to keep your accounts receivable aging down is to do quality work consistently, and the best way to have consistent quality is to keep your scale of control small.

This is not a business model that lends itself to VC well.


First, I'll say it's a cool idea and the website interface is well done on the backend. It looks as if they have created a great means of managing a project.

Speaking with their support staff was concerning, however. I asked rudimentary questions about how projects are handled that is not covered in their documentation. The staff member I spoke with became increasingly curt and bluntly asked if I wanted to proceed with a project or not, ignoring my questions. I apologized and logged out. I won't be returning.

So take my experience as you will. Best of luck to the team.


I am one of the cofounders and I'll be emailing you right away. This is absolutely not the way we operate and I'm happy to jump on a phone call with you to answer any questions you have! Very sorry about any issues you had in our chat. Techcrunch is definitely stretching us (in a good way) and so sometimes we mess up. Very sorry once again I'll be in touch!


Curious: what did you ask?


"If the project is behind schedule, Gigster just assigns more developers to it or fires under-performing ones so it gets done on time." - Somebody hasn't read Mythical Man-Month.


Just a bad guideline worded badly. I'd say this is far from the core value of what the service provides. I'd rather just hear:

"Quality products are guaranteed because of our extensive experience and knowledge of making these projects work with many dynamic circumstances." Ambiguous, sure, but that should be a good thing. Let's hear that they're constantly evolving and working around new challenges, and applying experience and learning from all the data points they have to tackle existing / mundane issues. The core should be just that.


I agree with your message, but that quote could be applied to any company ever. Case studies would be more useful.


> Somebody hasn't read Mythical Man-Month.

Or managed a software development project of any significance.


Or even worked on a software development project where someone tried that trick.


Hi! We don't assign more people blindly. But what do you propose we do if a developer gets sick or has to travel? We are engineers ourselves and are certainly careful to not just load up a bunch of devs on a project. We've done that before and it was painful :) Thanks for the feedback!


> But what do you propose we do if a developer gets sick or has to travel?

There's a difference between "if a developer gets sick or has to travel" and "if a project is behind schedule". (Though if the first happens late in the project, the problems with trying to backfill with an developer with no prior connection to the project at the late date are similar to trying to stack on more staff when a project is already behind schedule, and pose similar risks of delaying rather than accelerate delivery even further than accepting the cost of the loss.)


>> But what do you propose we do if a developer gets sick or has to travel?

I think that's sort of the point. You do whatever any other engineering team does when faced with the same challenges. The question is what is Gigster doing differently that allows you to achieve consistent on-time, on-budget results? Because if you have that formula, you could probably make a lot more money just consulting with existing dev shops on how to implement it.


Their FAQ answers your question. They are planning to simply eat any project budget overrun, aiming for growth rather than profit.

    YOU SOUND TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.
    HOW CAN YOU DO IT THIS CHEAP?

    Agencies and development shops have a lot of overhead
    & are fundamentally lifestyle business, meaning that
    their focus is profits. Gigster is venture-backed so our
    focus is growth & customer satisfaction. We’d have a
    referral from you than your money. Profits come later
    when we are at scale.


Translation: we're burning other people's money so we can underbid anyone and build a customer book. Of course, at some point someone is going to want the business to be profitable and then, hey presto, you're a dev shop like all the other dev shops.


I'm disappointed in YC for funding this; I think it's destructive to the hacker economy/ecosystem. Excerpting a comment from a thread last year re: Marc Andressen's complaints about startup burn rates that applies:

---------

I find it very hard not to get angry at these posts...

...One of the biggest problems facing my company right now is dealing with all of the venture-funded idiots coming after my customers, market and employees without so much as a hint of a viable business model. They outspend us on marketing 1000-to-1 and they offer to serve our clients essentially for free, apparently just to be able to win a logo for the "traction" slide in their deck in the hope that they will have enough proof points to get them their next hit of venture money.

I know that nearly all of them are going to vaporize eventually, but in the meantime they completely poison the well for all of us who are trying to do what Andressen, Wilson and the rest pretend they want startups to be doing - creating sustainable businesses in sustainable markets.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8369734


haha. Amazon requires vendors to provide 1 year of free service if they want to use Amazon's name in their bizdev.


can confirm, used to be angry but I stopped fighting it and just went with the flow. In fact it drove me out of the lower consumer market and forced me to go higher up in the ladder and make more money and deal with less clients who in turn were frustrated with the VC backed solutions.

Unsustainable business models backed by a sugar daddy offering even more commoditization taking spoiled and angry users out of the market? Fine with me if you believe in free lunches, but somebody is paying for it, and cash is a finite resource so.

I can definitely understand the anger and that was my initial reaction last year but then I just stopped giving a damn. I stopped caring. I don't have to take this client and offer them deep discounts to match "free". I realized I rarely have to do anything. I can simply choose to wait for the next bus which won't be crammed with ton of people fighting over seats. I am so much happier and profitable as a result.


Will this attract 'cheap' customers? As a potential customer I think I prefer the idea of a company that profits by the standard of doing my work, rather than a referral standard I have no control over.


This actually sounds like a fantastic opportunity to have your development work subsidized by some rich VCs.


Ha, exactly, except that too good to be true usually is. I have a hard time believing the "low ball high volume" strategy is going to lead to well-executed projects.


I think the actual strategy is push idea guys into sharing equities so they get both some money for the initial investment and make it big on equity with relatively low risk if the project succeeds.

From another pov they are vc to idea guys, only instead of giving the money for equity they give the product for equity. With the difference that they also get paid for it!


That's the smartest take on it that I've heard.


Thanks. I had an idea similar to this while working at a larger company. I wanted to start a tiger team to follow startup technically. Leveraging the employer name we could have vetted them to increase our success ratio and be sure both of the business idea as part of the vetting and of the technical side. Sadly this project would only have netted millions and the previous company wouldn't touch anything under billions.

Go figure. They prefer to acquire company after they hit success for top dollar and run them on the ground instead of actually fostering innovation.


> But what do you propose we do if a developer gets sick or has to travel?

I don't know what that means. Those both seem like silly reasons to add more devs to a project.

Unless you're talking about long term sickness (like cancer) or travelling around the world for a few months, but that's not really the expected usages of those phrases.


> But what do you propose we do if a developer gets sick or has to travel?

- don't run a skeleton crew dev team unless you are ready to handle the risks, - better project management upfront to cater for this risk - maybe allow customer to choose risk tolerance upfront like some fintech companies do and - include some internal reward mechanism for over delivery so you can better manage resources.

There are prob a ton more but these are the 3 that popped into my head. Apps don't solve problems but good business models behind apps do. Sort that out 1st.


Well I guess they'll learn by their mistakes...


It's not linear but the math works out - managed right, and up to a point, projects get faster with more people. The management part is hard but that's where our platform comes in.


This is actually not how the math works out. The book referenced is a classic of computer science literature and goes into quite a bit of detail about why the math doesn't work out this way.


It's already happening. 40min and counting of waiting in line to speak with a pm, not even starting with the quoting talk.

Idea is good but scaling to loads of projects will be a very hard endeavour (and scaling back after demand dwindle)


  > that's where our platform comes in.
"our platform" is quickly overtaking "the cloud" as something a web browser extension should replace with "butt".


If you're using firefox, here you go:

https://gist.github.com/kennethrapp/abbbca60ec286cc73f92


now we need this for Chrome!



9 mothers don't produce a baby in 1 month.


I am envisioning a clown car.


Clown car + yakkity sax


It's pretty worrisome that they say "The Gigsters come from companies like Google or Stripe that are looking for some extra projects." Google is pretty strict about side projects done by its employees; its IP release claims ownership over anything "along the lines of business of Google", which the company has in the past interpreted as "anything tech-related". There's a release process, but I really doubt they would grant approval for freelancing for Gigster on the side.

All that means that if the article is accurate, then customers of this service may find that Google owns their IP if they get big.


They cannot claim legal ownership of copyright or patents on projects developed outside of Google working hours and not using Google equipment. I believe there have been some cases already in the California courts over the matter. It doesn't matter what their agreement says, the law says otherwise.


1. Assumes nobody cheats and works on the side project at work. I'm not sure how happy I'd be with an outsource agency that went radio silent for 8-10 hours in the middle of the work day.

2. They can claim just about anything they like, then you get to defend yourself.


I assume nobody cheats in a way that can be proven. :)


> Google is pretty strict about side projects done by its employees; its IP release claims ownership over anything

IANAL nor do I play one on TV but I don't know if I actually believe that is legal - and if it is then it's a huge legal nightmare.

Take this project for example[1]. He worked on it before he was an employee of Google and after - does that mean Google automatically gets copyright over the project? What about after he leaves Google? What about if he never touched it while working at Google - does Google still get automatic copyright over it?

[1] https://github.com/snapframework/snap-server/commit/5e4850d4...


Google gets copyright over any code contributed during the duration of your employment - that's what happened in the project you link to. If he doesn't touch it while working at Google, there is no such code. You're supposed to disclaim any open-source projects you wrote before Google employment - I did, and then didn't work on them while employed.

It is somewhat debatable whether this provision would stand up in court, but do you really want to fight a court battle with Google's legal team?


Greg was not in CA, and snap is open source, so this example is a non-issue and the author didn't care.


> snap is open source

But Google now lays claim over its copyright which gives them the right to sell it or take it down completely. But thankfully - if you have an old version - they can't retroactively change the license. However - that won't stop Google from sending DMCA takedowns if it gets big enough.

> so this example is a non-issue

It's a huge issue - when people and companies don't even understand the terms of the GPL [1] copyright and licenses could make a huge impact. Yes - someone can fork it and call it pans and make all sorts of awesome changes - but that's horrible for software development. Now there are 2 different versions with different features - I would rather one project that completely works than 2 similar projects that kind of works.

> the author didn't care

The other contributors did - and that's equally important. I would not want to piss off the people who are contributing code to my project. Once other people start contributing code - a good open source project should respect the opinions and comments of the community.

[1] https://github.com/github/dmca/commit/85c03a289fe56c67636ed6...


You're right that Google has a clause for IP/Invention Assignment, but if push comes to shove a court would probably invalidate overly broad parts of a Google employees employment contract, so I think this fear is overblown. But 1) IANAL and 2) I didn't work at Google.


Google is one of the few companies that can legitimately show active work in most every technical field. I think it would be a pretty serious issue but IANAL either.


Well, any contract between the dev and Gigster almost certainly requires that dev to certify they are permitted to perform the work and that performing the services (to spec, including the spec that they are work for hire) are not in violation of any other contract.


Yeah, but I'd love to see the legal mess untangling that. There would be at least 4 parties to such a lawsuit - Google, their employee, Gigster, and the company who bought the MVP. IANAL, but I believe that such a release absolves Gigster of any legal liability, but wouldn't protect the client from having Google lay an injunction on them for using source code that belongs to Google. If somebody warrants that the goods you are receiving are not stolen and it turns out they're lying, that doesn't prevent you from having to give them back.

The way IP issues usually surface is during diligence for an investment or acquisition, anyway, and most investors won't go anywhere near a company that can't prove they own their IP.


Very interesting that a well-marketed agency/service biz got VC funding to the tune of $2.5m. Service businesses are notoriously hard to scale and run on thin margins, not usually of interest to SV investors chasing 10x'ers. What's the secret sauce here that makes it more scalable than the traditional agency/dev shop model?


I was wondering the exact same thing. The reality of an agency model is that to scale revenue you have to hire more worker bees. As part of that process two things happen. One, logistics become more complicated because of the additional communication overhead between people. Two, standards have to be lowered for new hires, otherwise they will quickly run out of people to hire. So even assuming that they currently have a few great product managers (and project managers) that are able to ensure projects are completed on time and to the customers satisfaction, the idea that all the skills involved could be boiled down to a simple algorithm or toolkit (to allow for massive scaling) seems all but impossible. I just don't believe that these folks have figured something out that every other agency in the world has not.


> The reality of an agency model is that to scale revenue you have to hire more worker bees.

And the worst part is, it scales linearly \cue groans\. Funny how in business, that's terrible (it's literally the worst it could possibly be to have a potentially profitable business), but with algorithms, it's the holy grail.

Interesting point BTW about reduction in quality of workers over time. (Like the pretentious-but-true saying "A-players hire other A-players. B-players hire C-players, and C-players hire losers") I've noticed the same trend though in product-centered businesses where I've worked. Unfortunately, I feel like the fact that the amount of work to be done doesn't scale linearly with revenues actually exacerbates the subsequent-employee-quality-decline-problem because even if the new guys are less... good, the company is still making more money so nobody except the coworkers and managers of these people (who actually have to work with them on a daily basis) even cares.

It's probably not a problem at places like Google and Facebook, but it was kinda heartbreaking to watch my super-talented and motivated dozen-person startup team become something completely different because we were growing so fast and were told to spend money and hire like crazy after taking an investment round.


Regarding your comments on hiring quality workers- that is interesting. Wouldn't the specific things you mentioned all be solved by the founder (presumably an A-player) continuing to make hiring decisions?

Really enjoyed thinking about your point that revenue outpacing effort enables employee quality decline. Maybe a way to force employee quality on a company would be to continually take on enough work (new/side projects, say, sort of like we see with AWS) such that the company will only survive if employees are good quality.


> And the worst part is, it scales linearly

Assuming optimum talent and project selection, it should scale sublinearly. The N+1th worker bee will be less productive than the Nth, and the N+1th project will have a be willing to pay less than the Nth in terms of $/unit output.


I think it's even more bleak than that, because adding the N+1th worker bee adds N new communication paths, unless you start segmenting people into org trees, which at that point you now have to maintain managers and middle managers.

Roughly https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooks%E2%80%99_law


> And the worst part is, it scales linearly \cue groans\.

Actually, If they specialize their tech stack sufficiently for fast prototyping and take equity in these super early ideas, that should not be a problem as they could be in for the long game via equity.


maybe investors get discounts on services?


Can anyone related to this explain to me why Yahoo Weather is listed under their "success stories"? As the PM on the project, I can say without a doubt this was not done externally. It was built through the sweat and tears of the wonderful engineers and designers on the team.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/fie0qrk7ecpphib/weather.jpg?dl=0

This just seems like blatant lying to me.


One of the main developers of the Yahoo weather app is a gigster (developer on the platform). The statement is that it was built by "one of our gigsters" and is intended to showcase the quality of work developers on Gigster have done. Had that developer been on Odesk or TapFame they would have listed Yahoo Weather as part of their portfolio. In this case they actually do list it as part of their portfolio. Definitely do not intend to take away from your hard work and appreciate you for it. Happy to do better in making this clearer but it's a bit unfair to imply that we cant showcase the work of developers on our platform as an indicator of developer quality.


Sorry, I agree with the OP. I interpreted the "Success Stories" page, especially when it is sub-titled "Our prior work speaks for itself" as referring to the work performed through Gigstar. There is a difference between allowing somebody to claim work they performed versus assigning that claim to the body that employs them after the fact. This example, just because of the lack of clarity, presents itself as the latter which is a little unfair in itself.


First, brilliant idea.

Second, 10-minute guaranteed quote? Would you share with me this amazing estimate technology? I've been at it for 10+ years, having helped build a popular website from the ground up and can't estimate the dev time of project with that kind of conviction given 10 hours.


Haha thanks! Submit a sample project if you want to see how it works.


I'm pretty sure he was being sarcastic... It is pretty absurd to think you are going to get your head around the requirements for a project and come up with a good estimate in 10 minutes. It suggests naivety or dishonesty. You choose.


Half sarcastic, maybe. But, genuinely curious about how they are managing the risk around scoping/estimation. Perhaps using overly conservative estimates or else assuming that on average their estimates will be close. Or maybe those Google/MIT engineers are magical.


I'm pretty sure they're planning to throw VC money at the problem until it goes away ("it" being either the problem or the money).


I don't think estimating will be that much of a problem if the right formula is used. Is this straightforward and the team a has done stuff like this before (most cases)... apply the component formula and add the markup. Is it hairy with lots of unknowns? 1.2 million dollars.


No disrespect meant, but no one with any real software development experience would suggest that a quick formula can be used to estimate the cost/time to develop a given project. Very experienced people spend lots of time up front trying to estimate cost/time and are usually not very close.


Agreed. Re-read my comment?


"Is this straightforward" can't be figured in 10 minutes for the vast majority of projects. And if you are outsourcing to devs, "has the team done stuff like this" is going to take some time too. 10 minutes simply isn't enough time. Would you have the same thought about 1 minute? 5 minutes? At what point do you say "no, that isn't enough time?". I'll take a few hours as enough time for some reasonably small but not trivial number of projects as a %.


I've built or managed the teams that built over 50 software projects, ranging from small up to about half a million dollars.

With all that experience, my estimate process is now extremely honed. It takes me, quite consistently, 4 to 8 hours for a typical web startup MVP. And that's assuming I can build the product completely with technologies my team has used before.


I tried. Radio silence.


Not really seeing how this is anything more than a fancy outsourcing company. Yes, they can say "We're different because we have the best developers," but really, lots of outsourcing companies say that.


If you have the best developers, they will likely want to go get a better job at Google or Facebook than work in IT services.


They tout that their developers actually work for these companies on the side, which for me is (yet another) huge red flag for the whole thing in that if you're already making Google-money (which, even in SV, is "more than enough" if you're a talented developer) the $10,000-per-project side gigs you're working on are really easy to drop if even a bit of boredom creeps in, which it will since these are bound to be relatively cookie-cutter apps at those prices.

The whole thing really doesn't make a lot of sense and is the first "YC" company that made me question if YC is maybe scraping the bottom of the barrel at this point in terms of what to fund.


They probably have Google contractors, not employees. Or former employees, since their website has already shown to have proven deceptions (like claiming to have solely created Yahoo Weather)


A few other differences - you don't interface with developers, price is guaranteed, costs are lower because dev talent isn't in house (no holding cost).


Have you ever worked at an outsourcing company?

That is literally how it works at many of them, just fyi. I'd strongly, strongly recommend you hire someone who does PM for one of those companies if you are as oblivious to how they work as that statement just made it appear.

> A few other differences - you don't interface with developers,

Yeah, plenty of them just want you to talk to the PM. The only time I was ever brought into meetings was when it was a very, very large customer [e.g. Bigger than Zynga] and the contract was 7 figures.

> price is guaranteed,

Prices are often fixed in outsourcing contracts at a per-project price with a list of deliverables and features.

> costs are lower because dev talent isn't in house (no holding cost).

I've worked with outsourcing companies where they paid per-project or per-hour a specific project [usually projects under $20k] as their sole model.

I worked with 2-3 at a time and just kept the apprised of my availability, one usually was the bread and butter while the other two handed me small projects [usually 80 hours or less].


You mean just like I can get with Infosys or any of the boutique software dev consultants? Most of those guys don't even bother with the type of rapid prototyping it seems like you guys do because the margins are crap and the collection rate is abysmal. The client always expects more than can be delivered at the price point and then refuses to pay on the basis of non-fulfillment. Sure, you can go after them, but a single lawsuit will cost you half of the value of one of your projects.

Prepayment isn't an option because you'd need to use something other than credit cards -- the chargeback rate would be far too high for any payment processor to keep you as a client.


That's a ridiculously trite response.


Interesting I just tried signing up for a project. Under platforms they only have web or phone base platforms.

Am I the only one who doesn't develop for a mobile or web platform anymore:(

Just give me a couple of statisticians who can program so I can update my backtester!!!

Interesting idea, its easy to dismiss it but as someone who initially said meh to Uber and AirBnB when I first heard about them, I've learned that my initial gut reaction to most apps is pretty useless.


Keen to know why you had a "Meh" response to Uber or AirBnB...

I am assuming you don't have the same response now and if so what changed.. Did your knowledge of the product change(like, you thought AirBnB was renting Air mattresses earlier) or did the traction the product received change your thinking...


What's up with Techcrunch? Is this article an advertisement? It seems like an advertorial, though a lot of TC seems like that these days. Is this the writer's friends company?


Every article about every startup you read is an advertisement. I'm not even joking; you pay a PR firm to seed articles at news sites. The writer is probably friends with the PR person who feeds them stories and likely a placement fee that gets shared with TC. If you think any positive story you read about any company isn't paid for, then you haven't been involved with media in any way.


TC's business model is to publish startup press releases.


A lot of doubt here in the comments but I think this is a real problem that people pay money for every day to get a worse result from Odesk etc.

Quality, strict timescales, integrated product management for clients - cash flow positive early on, maybe equity options for Gigster(s) - sounds like it could work if the execution is water tight.

Only worry I can think of is it's hard to make a clean product out of it when every job is vastly different and can get messy/out of scope.


This is amazing marketing for an outsourcing shop. You don't get to meet the developers so who knows what "top 5%" really means and there's clearly not any competition. The price you get is the price you get.


This would be great for porting already-done and well-defined stuff to oddball platforms that you don't have in-house experience with and are not comfortable vetting talent in that particular platform. "We're primarily an iOS company, here's our existing app, here's what it looks like, how every interface behaves, the backend services it hits, etc. Now just do exactly this, but on Windows Phone." I don't know if I'd have the guts to use it for "I've got nothing but an idea--make me an app from nothing!"


No, but I bet plenty of "ideas" people would be ecstatic about it. Maybe less thrilled that they can't pay in percentage of profit, but happy nonetheless.


Its so hard to believe that the end goal is to be a curated oDesk- which essentially makes it even worse than a online labor marketplace- a services business of which there are 100,000+ in the world. What would be the differentiator?

The idea isn't new and there have been startups like GroupTalent, Crew and TopTal that have tried/are trying this and many others in various different verticals.

I'm wondering if the A list angels and VCs are privy to some deeper plan about what this intends to become long-term.


  > What would be the differentiator?
Pitching themselves as "Uber for $X"


So, a consulting shop with some MIT, Google buzzword thrown around?


Well, if they get the processes right, this could be a good place to work.

I mean, the biggest problem in consulting isn't the coding, it is to work out what the customer wants.

If they give you a spec and you're just bound to that spec, it could be a good thing.

Code the stuff, get your money, don't care about the rest.

They have to meddle with the customers, if some misunderstandings happened.


Misunderstandings always happen. Meddling with the customers is the entire problem with this type of work. If you don't meddle with them then they are unhappy and refuse to pay their bills and you end up in litigation up to your eyeballs. But meddling with them is expensive and time-consuming. Pick your poison.


How is Gigster different from the zillions of outsourcing companies?


The irony is that YC would never invest in a startup that had its technical side outsourced through a service like this. But I can definitely see the market potential. Good luck guys.


This is not really a platform. It's a consulting shop, with money to buy TC space


From the gigster faq "Profits come later when we are at scale"

From the faq.

1. This is dangerous if there is no clear plan on what competitive advantage scale gets you.

- Is it network effects? - Is there some other benefit that i am missing? Would it drive down the marginal costs of the project once you have an existing library or ways to optimize the process?

2. I have a theory, running at a loss, free or with no bus model only makes sense in a few cases:

- strong network effects (fb, twitter etc) - High LTV for customer, together with low churn. - Proxy for demand/supply. For e.g Solving a customers problem on one side. This may be low cost or even free, eventually you bring in the other side of the market - The scale gives you access to data that no-one else can get. This allows you to be much more efficient / cross subsidise etc.


it's a marketplace

marketplaces have strong network effects


So it's like pivotal labs, or any other contract shop? Why would anyone fund this?

This sets off my "peak tech" sensor like nothing before it!


Wow, this looks pretty awesome if they are able to uphold the talent bar.

Would be good to get more info of how much you can make as a developer and how much projects are likely to cost, though.


Agreed, I hate sites that provide no information on relative pricing. I’d love a formula for weekly costs and a low-level guestimate tool for project size/scope/cost… before having to fill out any form info.


We actually do not make you fill out any forms is the great thing and we do have an engine that figures out a pretty detailed cost within minutes of chatting with you. Sorry if this isn't clear! What might you be looking to build?


No offense, I have to start with a form and provide you my email address to go through that process. It may be super simple - but I was talking more of a calculator style solution that didn’t require giving you a way to spam me forever.


Twist ending - Selling mailing lists is the actual business.


Hi! A good developer can expect to make $10K - $20K per month on Gigster :) The developer also can expect to do no sales or management work on the project. You just write code on interesting projects and get paid :) Much like Uber hands drivers rides and they just have to accept them.


> Much like Uber hands drivers rides and they just have to accept them.

So much like Uber, can we assume that "$10-$20k/month" is a mythical number[0] that could only be achieved by working 100+ hours per week and virtually no developers will actually make that much?

[0] http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2014/10/uber...


I believe theres no bidding, so gigster only accepts gigs that can pay the dev reasonably. Correct me if i'm wrong.


This is correct. We price out the gigs ahead of time and match them with developers who like the price.


Sounds like this will have a perpetual race to the bottom as inevitably there'll be developers asking high prices and not being paired with the work, and those asking less with more pairings.


How do you handle a situation where you estimate a given price and don't have any developers willing to complete that project at the given price?


Holy moly, so many warnings signs and red flags reading the comments so far.


So, you said elsewhere "Generally you can expect a Gigster project to be way cheaper (we've seen 10X in some cases) ", and yet your devs are making 10-20k? That does not add up.


I have a hard time believing this estimate. What are you basing that figure off of? That's senior-level software engineer money for freelancers who are mainly students trying to "earn some beer money" and programmers at Google wanting some extra projects.


$20k/month is $240k/year, which is some serious money. Forgive me if I'm a little skeptical of these numbers.


Hold on, are we talking employee or contractor? If it's the latter, I'd consider at least the following two points:

1. $20k/month every month? Unlikely.

2. Self-employment taxes + other business expenses.

edit: formatting


Does it matter for the context of my post? $240k is a hefty income either way for a freelancer who needn't live in an expensive metropolitan area. And it seems you agree with me either way with the way you ended your first bullet point.

A lot of startups in the sharing economy space have been guilty of grossly exaggerating how much their contractors/employees actually make. Is this just yet another instance of that or are these numbers legitimate? I think that's a perfectly reasonable question to ask.


Sorry if I wasn't clear... I do agree with you - if anything I'm more skeptical :)


I really hope this is true, and if it is then I guess it's time to quit my job :D


can you give a breakdown on how the business model is sustainable? No real data but x number of projects, y number of staff, with total revenue of N and profit of M.


Difficult to see any good developers wanting to be on the supply side of this thing. So, you end up with a bunch of bad developers for hire.


It depends. I could see myself doing this as a side gig in the future if it's managed well and the price is right. That's really the rub: my current job at a major tech company pays great, if Gigster's hourly rate is significantly less than what I already make then it won't be worth it.


On the contrary, I'm considered a 'good' developer by the normal standards (education / company / title / projects / etc.) and I would consider moonlighting. I usually work another 40-50 hours a week outside of professional employment on my own projects, so doing an app or website for some extra cash once and a while isn't a stretch. I applied.


Gigster was actually designed from the freelancer's perspective first - no bidding, no interfacing with customers all specs are in a standard format, reliable/regular payments, etc. I don't know of a better place to freelance.


I'm really struggling to believe "elite" people from MIT or google are going to be working at a rate where they can make 10-20k per month. It just doesn't really make sense given their other options.


Exactly. Given the choice between inventing the future and writing the next myface-for-hamsters, which would you do?


"Phone it in" so you don't feel bad about spending time with family/hobbies?


What about "small" projects? Or projects that are "changes" to an existing solution/project/deployment? Finishing touches to existing project?

UX-design as a service would be great, at least from a developer's perspective. This is something I've never been able to do, and pretty much forces me to go elsewhere if I want a project completed.


These are ok provided the budget is $1k+. Otherwise it's probably not worth it for you given that we have to get in & learn the code. We do UX design too!


Thanks for the info!


2 years ago, I was in NY trying to create a platform to match great open source devs and startups in need who also love good software (github/crowdfunding/great search engine).

I'm impressed you guys are doing it...

What does it take to actually work as a freelancer for Gigster ?


You can apply here - https://app.trygigster.com/gigster


This page is totally broken after you apply - nothing shows up under the Dashboard


Thanks


`Your Skills` section needs review:

Rails but no Ruby

MySQL but no Postgres

Docker but no chef nor puppet

etc.

Might be good to sort by either type of technology or alphabetical etc.


Thanks for the Feedback!


As a consultant/freelance engineer, this might be useful. It always takes way too much of my time trying to wrangle the non-product details from clients. My solution so far is to have a partner deal with that so I can focus on the software.


It would tough for someone to make $10,000 coding something that's worth a few million, and not receive any equity. I'm not saying there aren't people willing to do that, I'm just saying it must suck to find that out.


We actually plan to give all Gigster developers equity or options on projects!


So you ask clients to give Gigster equity?

Also, would love to hear more about your pricing generally.


Hi! Not all clients, just a select few. We collect data on all the projects we do and infer prices automatically :) Generally you can expect a Gigster project to be way cheaper (we've seen 10X in some cases) than what an agency would charge and often times cheaper or on par with similarly curated services like toptal but with the added convenience you get from having a product manager like an agency would provide.


If only a select few clients, not all clients, provide equity, how can you give "all Gigster developers equity or options on projects!"


> We actually plan to give all Gigster developers equity or options on projects!

So, Gigster can only be used by for-profit corporations? (Since non-profits, public sector entities, and non-corporations can't offer equity or options.)


What I really want to see is Gigster's contract. What terms do they make their clients sign?

To do any kind of fixed-price work, you need absolutely ironclad protection against scope creep. Said protection against scope creep usually must start with an extremely detailed specification - the kind of thing that takes weeks to develop, not a 10-minute phone call.

I would imagine Gigster's terms looks something like: • Client gets no input beyond the 10-minute phone call • Interpretation of the specifications given in that phone call is 100% up to Gigster • Any revision of specifications whatsoever results in a change order


I tried to create an account (to look for work), but the submit button didn't work.

It scrolled me back to the top of the screen and didn't send any data to the server, but didn't display any errors.


No Scala, PostgreSQL on Gigster. :(


Relax, they literally only just started this endeavour :P.


No bad. Now I just need a company to do the same for growth hacking / full stack marketing. This is only half the puzzle, and the easier half.


We do this at CloudPeeps! It's like Crew or a Gigster but for marketing, content and community talent - https://cloudpeeps.com


So going to https://app.trygigster.com/new

Gives me Heroku's application error message. I guess they should have used their own Gigsters:

Application Error An error occurred in the application and your page could not be served. Please try again in a few moments.

If you are the application owner, check your logs for details.


The actual development is a minor part of a product's success. A good consulting firm has the experience to craft your idea into a product that highlights its most compelling features and minimize its usage friction. A experienced firm can also reduce time to market by eliminating features that are not necessary or finding alternative ways to develop them.


Who owns the project source after initial development? Who actually manage deployment in production (and ultimately pays for the vms)?


Am I the only one that reduced the article's credibility the moment I saw the poster from Hackers used as the lead-in image?


How does Gigster differ from a typical software house that hires its workforce to others?


So is this platform part-time work-friendly? Or just for devs who are wholly freelance?


Absolutely. Most developers are part time :)


Part-time remote work that pays decently^? Ok, now you got my attention. Good luck!

^ I hope?


This is pretty cool. So far Codementor is the best but maybe I should look at this.


I'm very interested! I was just about to start the slog of navigating ODesk/Elance to get something built but already feel more trusting towards your approach. We shall see...

BTW, portfolio doesn't seem to work: trygigster.com/portfolio errors out


I keep reading Gangster.


I lol'ed at "a silicon valley product manager on every project"


It's true! SV has a great brand for PM's. Customers love knowing they are working with great talent, especially with all the noise out there.


Maybe you should hire a sarcasm-identifier on TaskRabbit?


I don't understand either, do you (or someone) mind explaining? Are SV Product Managers considered to be bad?


I am going to assume that the sarcasm refers to the absurd arrogance in implying that only and all product managers in silicon valley, california, usa are good.

Overall, I really like the idea, but the language of the site and of the people answering on this thread is really ringing alarm bells in my head.


Yawn.


>Dickey runs me through the process. “Say you want to build an Uber for pizza delivery. You get [a Gigster sales engineer] who’ll ask about the details. ‘How do you want to handle delivery?’ ‘Are you going to use your own fleet or a fleet service?’ Does it have to show exactly how long until the delivery?’ They figure out figure the budget and work schedule, and you pay with Stripe. On the backend we assemble a team for you , algorithms and people. 1 PM< 1 or more eng, and a uX UI designer. Team get started and you get weekly updates. PM is the single pout 0iof onset they take full responsibility. after 4-8 milestones and then it’s finsih and we handle maitnaencae for life. – bug fie. fi people want upgrades or additions, we price those out al a caret. IF you want to add a pizao f the day feature we say we can do that for 1k, how does that sound. All on-demand.

Did the writer have a stroke? How did this even happen?


I saw someone on Twitter mentioned that it was a draft version. Once updated, that's in a quote section and doesn't sound the same. I thought I was going crazy.


> handle maitnaencae for life. – bug fie

Read this as "...and we handle maintenance for life. \brushes off shoulder\ bug life. "


Probably used gigster.


Probably outsourced different sentences to Authorster.


> "Just go to Gigster’s site, instant message with a sales engineer, tell them what you want built, and in 10 minutes you get a guaranteed quote "

My BS detector is off the charts. This has clearly worked well for lot of startups that went bust because the sales sold something that didn't exist and couldn't be delivered. First you are talking with the wrong person if they are not intimately involved with your vision. They will gladly sell you the moon and earth if it means a commission check.

I build MVPs but it takes a good week or two just to wrap head around their vision and develop a plan to turn it into reality. 10 minutes isn't enough time and guaranteeing the cost means cutting corners, A LOT of them. You can't do this in 10 minutes if you are looking for quality. In fact I'd argue that without taking the time to chat and do some careful mine sweeping to look for potential pitfalls or scope creeps, you are most likely talking to a snake oils salesman, and this excerpt from that article shows this.

If they did poach the top talent in SV, why in the hell are these people working for a fixed cost? Guaranteed quote means guaranteed overtime, there's no way someone talented would put up with unpaid overtime, or is there a major "disruption" going on here.


This sounds kind of like ZipTask, which also (used to?) assigns a project manager who then pulls from a pool of freelancers. https://www.ziptask.com/


Hey! Can you describe your project in greater detail or link me to a spec? I’ll be in touch soon. We’re running behind due to the Techcrunch launch :) 2 minutes ago

YLXAWJHC i want a youporn clone 2 minutes ago

YLXAWJHC hello? a minute ago

YLXAWJHC I need this done ASAP a minute ago

YLXAWJHC can you agree to equity share? a minute ago

YLXAWJHC once I market it it will be HUGE a minute ago

DEBO we take equity on some projects :) However we dont really discount the projects that much a few seconds ago

DEBO for them what's your budget here? a few seconds ago

YLXAWJHC well 1k to start a few seconds ago




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