How to Find and Hire Developers for a Startup: A Whole Different Game


Max Litvinov

Aug 31, 2021 | 23 min read


There are a lot of traps and pitfalls when hiring for a start-up. But, can you afford any mistakes considering on average it takes 42 days to fill a position and $4,129 per hire? And as if that wasn’t enough pressure, a recent research gate study revealed that oversight in the hiring process is one of the key reasons why 90% of tech startups fail.

Now, you are probably wondering, but what makes the tech start-up hiring process any different from the rest? 

For starters, the role of a developer in a 200+ people corporation is very different from a developer in a 20 people startup. The skills, culture, day-to-day prerogatives, requirements, and habits differ a lot. 

In this comprehensive, we shade more light on the subject and help you dodge the common pitfalls. We leveraged our expertise in the software development industry to research and incorporate the latest and most relevant insights on how to find and hire developers for startup. 

At Appvales, we serve as a boutique mobile app development company and have earned a great track record over the years. We are home to some of the industry’s leading software developers and have contributed to the creation of software and applications for several reputable companies.

Startup Hiring Tips From Experts

Here you will find startup hiring tips from Myles Hunter, co-founder and CEO of TutorMe, and Steve Eakin, founder of Startup Black Belt, on how to hire for a startup company. Myles used these strategies to build a fast-growing and in-demand online tutoring solution, while Steve produced high-profile teams using this tested strategy. One of those teams was later acquired by Amazon at a higher value.

Let’s delve into specifics.

  1. Hiring at an early stage has more impact on the company.

The importance of hiring suitable candidates in the early stages of the company cannot be overemphasized. Hiring the wrong programmer can cause bottlenecks in the software development process, while the right hire will significantly improve productivity. To ensure you employ your right fit, you need to develop a thorough, unrushed hiring process or engage a talent acquisition expert.

A candidate with the vital skills you require but a poor work ethic will derail your plans during the early stages. In addition, you must have a defined company culture and never hire a developer that doesn’t fit into it. So, you should only engage developers who believe in your company’s mission and have a positive attitude. This may require conducting multiple interviews, checking references, and preparing sample test tasks.

  1. Be specific in your job description.

What kind of employee do you want to hire? What qualities, skills, and experience levels should they have? Would they be working on-site or remotely? 

Be sure to include all these in your job description. 

Specifying the job requirements allows you to receive relevant applications, saving time. Furthermore, it shows you where to find suitable candidates. This way, you will be strategic in your search and get a pool of the most qualified candidates.

Since hiring for a startup company is a significant factor in your company’s transition to the growth stage, you need to ensure you’re hiring only the best. The next tip shows you how to identify the best candidates in an interview. 

  1. Build a rapport with the candidate.

The tactfulness required in identifying the best candidates starts from building a good rapport. This is because candidates are more likely to be truthful and open when a good connection has been established. So, to tear down their defensive wall, break the ice by starting with informal chats via a video chat or one-on-one conversations. This way, you get to know each candidate better before the actual interview. 

An interview is not about the candidate alone but also about the employer. Candidates listen to see if your company is a fit for them. Therefore, paint the right picture of your company’s work ethic and culture before and during the interview. 

You can also engage the help of more experienced developers if you’re not tech-inclined. With their insights, draw up a list of words you want to and don’t want to hear, and pay attention to the red flags. Of course, an alternative is to have one of them with you during the interview. 

an interviewer sitting across the table facing two interviewers, one male and the other female.
  1. Test them

After identifying qualified candidates for a role, the next step is to test their competence. This test could be a take-home assignment or a sample timed project. 

This part of the hiring process is vital because it gives you a glimpse of the candidate’s thought process, performance, standards, best practices, and how they can solve problems. You also get the opportunity to ascertain how well they communicate and their passion for the job.

A young male developer on a black t-shirt working on a test project during an interview

You may need to pay for the test project even if you don’t need the result. However, you should never skip this process because one wrong hire can substantially negatively impact a startup.

Let’s jump to the rest of the startup hiring tips.

  1. It’s better to hire more experienced people.

The level of experience is a significant factor to consider when you hire developers for a startup. The wealth of knowledge and expertise of your team ensures you hit the ground running immediately after onboarding. But with junior developers, you get to spend more time and resources in their training.

If you are not a tech person, hiring based on experience is your best bet. It frees time so that you can focus on your core objectives. However, with time and as the team grows, you’ll need to trust their judgment regarding who to hire. Since they know what needs to be done, they know who they need to support their work.

Once you have identified and hired the right people for specific roles, you have set your company on the path of fast growth.

  1. Choose the best candidate.

To choose the right candidate, compare notes with other interviewers. 

If you’re the only interviewer and are having issues with the selection process, it’s best to get the help of a consultant. Doing so gives the process fresh eyes, allowing you to find a suitable developer for your startup.

a male interviewer shaking the hands of a candidate while the female interviewer watches. They are all standing.

You can watch this video by Eric Migicovsky, founder of Pebble Watch, for additional tips on how to hire developers for a startup.

Developer hiring options for startups

There are three main options available for startups when hiring developers. They can choose to hire in-house developers or engage freelancers or an outsourcing company. However, your decision should be based on your business’s goal, the strategy you wish to adopt, and how it will affect your business in the long run.

Now, let’s consider each of these options, their advantages, and their disadvantages.

In-house developers

Hiring in-house developers can be a good option for startups for the following reasons.

  • You have complete control over the developers you hire, ensuring they fit into your company’s culture and buy into its mission. Also, you can monitor the progress of projects, communicate challenges and discuss details to facilitate the development process.
  • There is more flexibility in operations as you can easily make quick changes and add new features to a project. This also helps to resolve issues and bugs efficiently.
  • There are no logistical, cultural, or language barriers when working with in-house developers. Since you get to pick individual team members, it’s easier to hire people from similar backgrounds. And as they spend time together in the office, it facilitates effective communication and collaboration, which is critical in software development. 

Some disadvantages of hiring in-house developers

  • The process of hiring the right fit for your team is usually slow and demanding. Sometimes, the hired candidate might not be available to start immediately, which is not good if your project has a timeline.
  • Hiring and maintaining an in-house team is expensive for startups. Apart from salaries and bonuses, you get to pay for training, rent, equipment, and taxes. Also, companies get to pay for their staff time off, vacation, and sick days. In a nutshell, companies pay for both the productive and non-productive hours in-house staff put in.

This diagram shows the actual cost of hiring in-house staff for businesses.

a diagram comparing the compensation cost and true cost of hiring in-house developers.

(source: Upwork)

  • There is a high rate of staff turnover for in-house developers because of the demand for skilled programmers. Companies that pay more and offer attractive benefits can easily lure your best team members away. Situations like this slow down your project timeline and send you hunting for another talent to fill the vacancy.
  • In the case of an expansion, your current pool of developers may not have the specific skills needed. To hire more developers as a startup can be unattainable in such situations.


The growing need for remote workers has given rise to freelancing and freelance websites as a ready source of workforce for businesses. Most businesses now prefer to engage freelancers to handle specific tasks while their in-house staff focuses on the main functions.

Advantages of hiring freelancers include

  • Flexibility in working hours. Freelancers offer flexible working hours than in-house staff because they work remotely. This affords them more time to focus on the project and deliver it on schedule.
  • Freelancers are cost-effective. Startups can benefit from freelancing because they get to keep overhead costs down. Freelancers are paid either hourly or per project and don’t require bonuses, insurance, tax, or the fee of tools that in-house staff would need to do their work.
  • It is faster and easier to hire a freelancer than an in-house developer. This is because most freelancers are ready to work immediately, unlike in-house staff who must go through the hiring, training, and on-boarding sessions before they commence work. 
  • You only pay a freelancer upon completion of a task or project. This makes them passionate about the work instead of in-house developers who would get paid whether or not a project is completed when expected.

Some disadvantages of freelancers include

  • Many freelancers overpromise and under-deliver. Thus, the quality of their work may fall way below your standards or expectations.
  • They may lack the ability to work independently, and you may have to check in on them regularly. 
  • If the freelancer you hired is excellent, chances are he may abandon your job for another high-paying gig. When this happens, you will have to reassign the project to someone else, which will affect the timeline of your project.
  • There is no confidentiality of intellectual property as freelancers can mishandle our misuse or share your proprietary information with other clients.


Outsourcing provides businesses or startups with the same amount of work and level of quality they would get from an in-house team. In addition, outsourcing companies offer a pool of dedicated and experienced developers to meet the needs of businesses at different times.

A standing man holding his laptop on his hands while working, and his colleagues working at the background

Advantages of hiring an outsourcing company

  • It significantly reduces the labor cost for startups and growing enterprises. Outsourcing is a viable option for startups seeking quality talents on a budget.
  • Instead of hiring freelancers, you get a team of professional and dedicated staff working on your project and delivering even better results than in-house developers.
  • When tasks are outsourced, your business has time to strategize and focus resources on essential areas that will lead to growth and improvement.
  • You can easily find resources and engage talents that are unavailable or expensive to maintain.
  • It also reduces the cost of office space, office tools and equipment, and other bills because the outsourcing company uses its resources to work on your projects.

Some disadvantages of outsourcing include

  • Differences in time zone is a challenge startups encounter when outsourcing. One party may be forced to compromise and work outside regular business hours.
  • Businesses may not have complete control over outsourced tasks. This can make monitoring and corrections in the development process difficult.

Roles you can outsource.

  • IT roles like software, app or web development, database development and management, technical support.
  • Hardware manufacturing
  • Business process roles like customer support, data entry, accounting, social media management.
  • Marketing and advertising roles.

Best websites to find mobile app developers for a startup

Most entrepreneurs are faced with the challenge of how to find employees for a startup. This section lists the best websites where you can hire mobile app developers for a startup.

  1. Toptal 

Toptal is a freelancing platform that hosts many professionals ranging from developers to designers, finance experts, and project managers. Some of the best freelance developers can be found here. 

Toptal has a strict vetting system that ensures only the best talents progress to join its community. As a result, members of their community have an impressive portfolio and experience working with top startups and businesses. So if you’re looking to hire the best talents for your startup, Toptal is a platform you should explore.

  1. Upwork 

Upwork is one of the world’s largest marketplaces where businesses find and hire freelancers. It hosts a variety of talents in different industries and niches to meet the specific needs of companies.

Also, it has an algorithm that helps businesses filter through the many talents and narrow down their search based on set criteria.  Part of the criteria includes hourly rates, projects completed, rising talent, entry-level, or experts.

However, Upwork doesn’t have a robust vetting process. Therefore, employers have to interview freelancers themselves. But the good news is that Upwork helps settle payment and work-related disputes between the employer and freelancers.

  1. GitHub Jobs

GitHub Jobs is a dedicated job board for tech freelancers. It is also one of the largest open-source libraries for programmers. 

GitHub Jobs board is a place to find talents with multiple competencies if you’re looking to hire multi-talented developers for your startup.

  1. Clutch

Clutch is a website that helps connect professional service buyers with talents. It also helps leading professional service providers and firms stand out in the crowded marketplace. 

Clutch ranks companies based on their client reviews, industry recognition, market presence, and client list. It does the heavy lifting of research work for clients, so they only have to analyze which company to engage.

If you’re looking for top firms with the best developers to outsource your projects, Clutch is a site to visit. You are sure to find the best firms to engage from its over 7,000 registered companies, 11,000 reviews, and more than 50 published reports.

  1. Goodfirms 

Goodfirms is an online research and review platform where software buyers and those in need of professional services can find the best software firms. It also helps IT firms boost their brand awareness and traffic.

Goodfirms displays all its reviewed companies and software on one platform for seekers to find easily. Therefore, if you’re looking for the best software to use for your startup, Goodfirms is a place to visit.

  1.  Appvales 

Appvales is an IT company that provides dedicated mobile app developers for startups. We help startups design, build, test and deploy mobile apps. We also handle end-to-end development and collaborate with your product team to deliver quality Android and iOS products.

We are listed on Clutch, Goodfirms, and Upwork and have positive reviews from our clients worldwide. Our tech stack includes React Native, Python, Node.js, AWS, Azure, etc. Hire mobile app developers for your startup now – contact us.

Hire our best developers

Our team comprises native and back-end programmers, designers, and quality assurance specialists ready to meet your specific needs. 

We have successfully deployed mobile apps that include a math tutoring app, an analytic app for sports teams, an event ticket sales app, a contact management app, a review app, and more. Here is what some of our clients have said about us

“Hiring Appvales was one of our best business decisions. These guys were honest from the start in terms of time of development and costs. They delivered what they promised in time. Appvales cares about the success of your project and they will go above and beyond to deliver. Highly recommended company. Thanks guys!”


Alexandre Giguere

Founder @ Salu Video

“Clear, professional communication made APPVALES stand out from the very beginning of the engagement. This paved the way to a strong working relationship that ensured the successful and timely completion of the app. The team was also responsive and ready to fix any issues at hand.”


Andreas Piculell

CTO @ Edaptio

We love partnering with visioners and startups to create exceptional mobile applications with a remarkable user experience. Visit our website for more information about our work and tech stack. You can contact us to learn more about how we can partner with your team to design, build, and deploy efficient mobile apps today.


Can you build apps for iOS and Android platforms?

We use React and React Native frameworks to develop mobile apps supported by Android and iOS platforms.

What programming languages and frameworks do you use?

70% of our apps are developed using React Native. We also use Node.js, Java, Kotlin, Python, Flutter, Firebase, Azure, AWS, etc., depending on the type of app.

Will you provide continuous support, updates, and maintenance?

Yes, we have an on-demand dedicated team of developers for ongoing support. Our pricing depends on the number of support hours and development work you require. You can contact us here for more details.

Do you guarantee the security and confidentiality of our intellectual property?

The security and confidentiality of our client’s intellectual property are non-negotiable. That’s why an NDA clause is clearly stated in the contract document we sign with our clients and employees.

How long does it take to start a project?

We begin every project by reviewing client requirements to estimate the cost and duration of the project. Once approved by the client, we then create and send a project report document and our proposal. Once finalized with the client, we begin the product development.

Boutique Web and Mobile App
Development Company

You have an app idea. We know how to build it. Let's talk.

Get project estimation bg bg
Written By:

Max Litvinov

CEO at Appvales

IT enthusiast, investor, entrepreneur. Bringing the offshore mobile development to the next level.

Boutique Web and
Mobile App
Development Company

You have an app idea. We know how to build it. Let's talk.

Get project estimation