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Where Can I Find Great Software Developers For Early Startup, With Reasonable Rates?

Nisha Gopinath Menon
December 21, 2017

We address just about any engineer or designer who writes code as a software developer. It encompasses a junior-level developer working on low-level code to experienced developers who have experience in engineering an entire solution for their clients. So you see how the prices attached to a junior software developer and a senior one can be misleading when mentioned as a range under the title "software developer." The cost of engaging software developers at a reasonable rate depends on several factors. Below are the main parts which play a role in software development costs.

What are you looking for?

The major cost of hiring a software developer hinges on what you're looking to build. So, are you going through a trial-and-error process or do you have a solid idea and clear specifications for your product? The difference is massive when it comes to selecting engineers. Some developers tend to get frustrated if the requirements keep changing. In this scenario, you need to find engineers who are entrepreneurial, ones who can iterate and pivot with you without any frustration. In fact, it must be fun for them to validate the hypothesis by going through the process. Here, all you need to worry about is building an MVP that doesn't necessarily need to scale. You start thinking about growth, scalability, and software quality once you find your product/market fit. Work with a consulting firm that has a track record if your specifications are set and won't change much. They follow a well laid out process and deliver on time. Talk to their customers for reference.


By scope, we are trying to figure out exactly what it is you’re looking for, factoring in things like technology, languages, API integration, difficulty, and platform. Your developer, be it an agency or an individual, will assist you in fleshing out the scope. The scope could prove to be hard to nail down and document for someone unfamiliar with software development, but its critical to the success of your project. Now if your budget is limited, simplify by focusing on one core feature. Be open to incorporating existing interface designs, the code for which pre-exists and may be available via open source so the developer can integrate it into your app. The result will be close to a minimum viable product, allowing you to validate your idea, and accurately ascertain if there’s enough interest in it to make adding more features worthwhile. Also, software development projects can last anywhere from a few hours to a few months to even a year. The scope determines the time it takes to develop even a minimal viable product (MVP) and the length of time impacts the cost.

Where you go looking

Different locations have different costs of living, so where you go looking for your developer plays a role in how much it will cost you. The advantage of looking outside your locality, if you're from a place with a high cost of living is a significant reduction in cost and not necessarily, the quality. The disadvantage is legal repercussions, possible miscommunication and if time zones differ, increased time estimates. Remember, miscommunications also increase costs. The developer and product owner should be on the same page on what needs to be done. A project manager helps facilitate communication between you and multiple developers, keeping the project on track, whether you hire local or choose to outsource.

Where can I find them?

With experience comes greater skill, faster output, and a higher price. You need to make peace with this. And moreover, its extremely hard to come by skilled developers, especially ones that share the same vision for your project. Additionally, developers have project fit, just as a product has a market fit. Now, if you are building an MVP, the purpose is to demonstrate, to either early adopters or investors, the idea, then, by all means, stay lean. Look to:

  • Extended networks. The key to utilizing your network is to inform people clearly of not just whom you’re looking to connect with but also what you’re trying to do. Often, Entrepreneurs overlook how huge their personal network really is.
  • Local universities and colleges. Don't overlook these hot spots, potentially for recruiting young talented developers. Chances are your local college will house a certain number of standout developers, though competition for recruiting may be fierce if you're located near an extremely well-reputed college. The best way to scout for them is through the teachers. Professors are always looking to find real-life experiences for their students, so reach out to them directly. Working with new talent should keep your costs down.
  • Freelance outlets. There are many freelance platforms where you can hire quality freelance talent at a reasonable rate. But don’t believe you can launch the whole application with them, but these freelancers will help you get a draft going. If your app scales, eventually, as you need to add updates, hire an experienced developer on your team.
  • Find talented and reliable offshore resources. There is no scarcity of this. It's scouting for the good ones, which make it difficult. Once you narrow down a few names, look for referrals from previous clients and more. Even so, there are demerits when working with an offshore team. You are communicating with people you have not met, dealing with time zone differences and more. But remember, this is just about getting the MVP done.


Too many entrepreneurs believe that they’re going to build a kick-ass software with all the bells and whistles and find some developer in Asia or Eastern Europe willing to work at this for $5 per hour. That's not going to work. Of course, you can outsource your development, and you’ll be able to get quality software. But there’s no way a quality developer will work for $10 per hour to build it for you. You’re going to have to start at $15 per hour if you want a decent developer. And most of the experienced developers are going to cost you a minimum of $25-$30 an hour.

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Nisha Gopinath Menon