Startups: Winning With Rails Shops
In previous posts in this series we talked about how outsourcing your development needs to a Rails shop can make more sense than hiring an internal development team. In this post, we are focusing on startups specifically, and how they are in a unique position to benefit from relying on a Rails shop to build their web applications.
Startups have distinctively different needs from established companies when it comes to launching a product. A startup is trying to penetrate the market as a new player, without a preceding reputation and without any history of success. Additionally, your startup needs to prove its ability to compete quickly after launch, in order to appease those that have gone out on a limb to invest time and money into your product. The startup world is cutthroat and austere – there is little room for mistakes and stagnation.
In a recent Fast Company post on “Ten Tips to a Successful Startup”, getting to market fast was listed as one of the top 3 tips and is one of the “lean startup principles” from famed startup advisor, Eric Ries. When you’re trying to launch your product, you need a team of expert developers to get your there faster.
Don’t Go To Market Alone
By hiring an experienced Rails shop to handle the development work, your startup can leverage these advantages:
- Lower risk – Whenever you contract with a consultancy you are entering in a lower risk situation than hiring your own employees. With a Rails shop you will enter in a mutually beneficial contract and statement of work.
- Assembled Team – Assembling a team of developers, project managers and designers takes time. Especially in the Rails world in which the demand for Rails developers is high, but the supply continues to be low. But it’s easy to find a reputable and quality Rails shop, and they will have a team ready to start on your project right away!
- Control costs – When you work with a Rails shop you have a clear understanding (through your statement of work) of how much the project will cost. This makes it easier for your startup to budget for development work.
- Scheduled Deliverables – Since you’ll be working with a veteran team of developers, you can expect to know when each milestone of the project will be delivered. This helps you plan launch dates and milestones with your investors.
- Proven track record – Hiring individual in-house developers can be tricky, and you never know what you’re really getting or how well your assembled team will work together. With a Rails shop you can be assured that the teams already know how to work together and deliver successful projects on time. Rails shops work diligently to meet deadlines and keep their clients happy, because their good reputation is so vital to their existence.
- Extra Promotion – When you use a Rails shop, you can often expect the benefit of having some free promotion. Rails shops care about their clients’ success, and thus will usually take steps to promote them through word of mouth, social media, blogging, and other avenues. And when you’re new to a market, you can never have too much promotion!
At Intridea we have years of experience working with startups. In one particular case we were approached by Visual CV, a startup that wanted to revolutionize the online resume market. We quickly assembled the ideal team of developers, designers and project managers for their project. In their case it was critical to get something to their users as soon as possible, so we sat down with them to determine which features were necessary for a minimum viable product. Once we understood their vision and their specific needs we went back to our offices and within just two weeks we had a working prototype that was polished enough to deliver to their users. Then we stayed on board to deliver more complete iterations of the product and to help them hire and transition an internal team of developers to carry on future development.
When EarthAid approached us to architect a complete solution to help people track and lower their energy costs and consumption costs, we knew we would need to work quickly and intelligently in order to help them launch their product in a new market. In addition to the design and development process, our architects made sure they built a system that would scale with the EarthAid’s needs as their user base grew over time. We were able to get them to market quickly and efficiently. Shortly thereafter, they attracted venture funding and today EarthAid is a thriving business.
Where Are The Good Programmers?
One of the toughest challenges for any entrepreneur is hiring good programmers to execute on their vision. If you’re not already a programmer, knowing how to identify good programmers can be nearly impossible. In this situation it makes more sense to consult with an experienced Rails shop for your development needs. A Rails shop will already have assembled a good team of programmers, designers and project managers.
If you’re running a startup, you won’t likely have time to worry about all the details of putting a team together. When you hire an internal team you need to set aside a lot of time for things like:
- Finding good programmers (and making sure they are actually well qualified)
- Making sure the team you hired is working well together
- Paperwork – setting up your new employees takes a lot of effort. You’ll probably want to provide them with benefits, possible relocation if you couldn’t find all the talent you needed locally, and make sure they’re adjusting well to their new full-time position.
All of that takes time and distracts you from your more time-sensitive business objectives. When you hire a Rails shop to handle your development, you bypass the complications of hiring an internal team and allows you to focus on your business strategy, your market, your customers, and all the mission-critical aspects of launching a venture. Once you’ve launched your product and penetrated the market, the Rails shop can often help you hire your own internal team and help them learn the codebase, ensuring a smooth transition.
If you aren’t already familiar with the benefits of using Rails to build your web applications, check back next week! In the next post in this series we’ll be talking about why Rails is a smart choice for development when you need to get your product to market! Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our RSS feed to get updates on future posts.
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