How To Hire A Developer For A Startup?

In this blog, we answer the question, 'how to hire a developer for a startup' by going in-depth and analyzing everything you need to look out for.

Well, building your startup is tough. You need the right team around you to succeed in the journey. But, finding the “right” team member requires a fit on:

  1. Goals
  2. Skills

In that context, scaling your tech startup needs a talented developer who aligns with your goals. So, this blog helps answer the ultimate question: “How to hire a developer for your startup?”.

Table of contents

  • Is it really that important a problem?
  • What are the challenges faced by startups when hiring developers?
  • Why should you hire remote developers?
  • What to look for when hiring a developer for your startup?
  • Where to look when hiring a developer for your startup
  • How to hire a developer for your startup?
  • Parting thoughts on hiring a developer for your startup

Is it really that important a problem?

To put a number to the difficulty of building a startup, the success rate of startups is a meager ~10%! And, research suggests that nearly a fifth of the failed startups break down due to a poor team.

Further, in the age of the internet, our dependence on developers is huge, to say the least. To understand the impact, another 6% of startups fail due to tech problems, which are caused due to usually one of two reasons - making an incorrect choice of tech OR hiring the wrong developer.

Of course, mistakes are a part of the building process. But, hiring the wrong person can be a very costly error.

Now that we have you convinced about its importance, let’s answer all your questions about the developer hiring process so that you can hire the right developer in no time!

What are the challenges faced by startups when hiring developers?

Hiring the perfect developer to meet your technical and cultural needs is not easy. That’s possibly the most painful problem most tech startups face.

Some of the underlying reasons for the challenge are:

  1. Finding candidates with the requisite skills

    The needs of your startup, while maybe not exactly unique, are still specific. Further, the ever-changing nature of the early stages of a startup only makes things more complex. So, you need someone who firstly has the requisite skills and also the capability to adapt to your changing needs. 

  2. Finding such talent is super difficult not only for startups but even bigger companies globally.


  3. Funding crunch

    Candidate fees vary across geographies, based on their skills and experience. Irrespective, a quality developer is not cheap.

    Such high fees are likely to be difficult to take on during the early stages of a startup. Even well-funded startups face serious hiring competition from bigger firms.

    This problem of hiring a full-time developer only becomes worse during downturns in funding cycles.


  4. Evaluation process

    If you are not into tech, then evaluating a developer in your tech hiring process becomes super difficult. The jargon used can be quite intimidating and the usage of fancy terminology by a developer is not indicative of their competency.

    Sure, a tech co-founder can solve this - but if only finding a quality tech co-founder for your startup was easy in the first place!


  5. Competing for talent with other startups

    Startups fight tooth and nail with each other for hiring skilled developers. And, when bigger firms are added to the mix, the fight hardly remains fair. Additional constraints, such as location, further impact the hiring process. For example, trying to hire a developer in the same city where many other big firms are located, would mean that the best talent is already taken!

Why should you hire remote developers for your startup?

When the competitive landscape for hiring developers is so fierce, you need to find your edge. Relaxing constraints on location and considering remote developers can be that edge when trying to hiring a developer for your startup.

There are multiple advantages to this: 

  1. By hiring a remote developer, you get to look for talent beyond your present location. This means that you can try hiring from locations where dev rates are lesser. For example, hiring from India instead of the US will save you a lot of money.
  2. The time to hire is reduced, and you can get started building products immediately. Also, a good developer doesn’t require an initial training period so time is saved there, too.
  3. Your startup may not need someone skilled in a niche technology for long. A temporary remote employee who works for a short period of time is the better option here.
  4. With remote devs on board, you get a more flexible team that can be scaled and modified as per your needs. When you’re looking to grow fast, this flexibility is quite necessary.

If you’re still not convinced, we have elaborated more on why you should consider off-shore developers here. Do check it out.

What to look for when hiring a developer for your startup?

When hiring, you have to check for both the technical and cultural fit. Here are some things that you should consider:

  1. Go beyond the CV

    Of course, the candidate’s CV gives a great idea of their experience. But, it should not be used as the sole deciding factor. You need to understand their work and their experience directly, perhaps over a call. Check if they’ve actually done what’s been claimed and if the work aligns with your plans.


  2. Test for problem-solving skills

    Every iteration of your project may require you to solve a new problem and naturally this requires the developer to have a great problem-solving aptitude.

    Consider having short live coding assignments to give you a good way to evaluate this.


  3. Good communication skills

    Startups often don’t have highly-defined scope., the developer needs to first understand the requirements clearly. If something is lost in translation, you may end up delaying releases continually. This, of course, also helps in interaction with other team members.

Where to look when hiring a developer for your startup

Now that you know ‘what’ to look for, let’s check out ‘where’ you can find a developer:

  1. Social media

    You get plenty of free and paid opportunities for job postings via social media:

    • Facebook developer groups
    • Your Twitter account (with the appropriate hashtags)
    • LinkedIn job postings
    • Sharing with friends and family and asking them to share it further.

  2. Job portals

    Glassdoor and Upwork can also be used for postings. Something more dedicated, for example, one suited to just React developers, may work even better.


  3. Talent Vetting Networks

    Talent networks like Flexiple onboard only highly skilled developers through thorough selection processes. These might just be your safest bet.

    All you need to do is tell your requirements to these firms and leave all the heavy lifting to them. Most likely, a good marketplace will already have contact with multiple developers so you can connect with one in a matter of days.


  4. Offline sources

    If you do have the time and resources to hire developers the traditional way, you can try some of these:

    • Go to developer meetups or conferences
    • Hire directly from universities if you are looking for junior talent at a lower cost
    • Check out coworking spaces that might be frequented by developers

 How to hire a developer for your startup?

1. Define what you want to build

So firstly, decide what you wish to achieve and the product you need for that. The same goes for when you’re trying to add new features to an existing product - decide what you need first.

2. Specify your needs clearly

Try to answer the following questions:

  • What is it that you need from your developer? 
  • How many years of experience should they have? 
  • What should be their main skill? Are there any good-to-have skills you’d also like to take into consideration? 
  • Do you want someone who’s capable of handling the work all by themselves, or would you prefer to hire a team of developers?

Culture-wise, do you want someone who’s worked with startups in the past? Should they have remote work experience? What’s the bar on their communication skills?

You can use the answers to this as a checklist or job description at later stages.

3. Decide on the geographic location

In the early stages of the startup, synchronous work might help with quick ideation and forging strong relationships. A dev from the same time zone or one that is able to overlap with yours can be preferred.

4. Determine the employment model

Do you need a full-time employee? Or, are you looking for someone skilled in a niche area but only for a small part of the project? Then, do you plan to collaborate with them remotely, or would you be working from an office?

Set these parameters at the start so that these don’t become points of failure later on.

5. Make the job posting

Now, pick one target channel and make the job posting. Some points to keep in mind while doing so:

  1. Don’t post on a portal that doesn’t align with the quality standards that you want. Getting applications is nice, sifting through a large pile of irrelevant profiles is not. 
  2. The same holds if you plan to post on a social media group - the posting might be free, your time isn’t!
  3. The same goes for hiring through a talent network. Read reviews by their earlier clients.
  4. Also, go through the terms and conditions before hiring through any channel.
  5. Submit the job description and any other details.

6. Review the applicants

Once you’re done with the above, the applications will start pouring in. Now the time for review would depend on the hiring channel used. Talent networks such as Flexiple shortlist the best developers so that you can save time in evaluation and focus on actually building your product.

While marketplaces like Upwork require you to do the due diligence yourself, which would likely require you to dedicate a significant amount of time.

7. Verify the expertise through interviews

Over interviews, evaluate the developer on their past work, communication skills, and responsiveness. Also, since a startup is likely to require solving unstructured problems, observe their approach to problem-solving through short coding assignments.

Note that someone with tech expertise in your team is the best person to interview the new hire. This enables the conversation to have depth and the decision to have a level of subjectivity that it naturally requires.

8. Get started

If you have hired a junior developer, set aside the initial days for onboarding. 

Also, decide who from your team would be collaborating with the dev and to what extent. Having a single point of contact for the developer to regularly interact with ensures streamlined communication.

Parting thoughts on hiring a developer for your startup

That’s all for this blog, happy hiring! Try to follow the above guide step by step to make the right hire for your startup. If you need further assistance and are still not clear on how to hire a developer for your startup, do get in touch with qualified specialists to clear your doubts.

Need help hiring the freelance developer best-suited to your needs? Flexiple is and will be here to help you. With our network of top 1% pre-screened freelance developers, we will find you the right developer to work with, while you focus your time & energy on building a game-changing startup!

Share your requirements and get started now!