Don’t act like you have scale

by Raj on March 23, 2010

I had a meeting with some smart guys today. I was talking about some of the mistakes I made with my first startup.

One of the biggest mistakes that I made was choosing to rely too heavily on outsourced developers to get my core product written. They weren’t employed by me directly, but they were dedicated to my company. But they were mercenaries nonetheless.

I was acting like my startup had scale. Startups by their very definition don’t have scale. Big companies with lots of resources and long release cycles have scale. They can afford to endure the latency associated with offshore product development, but a startup cannot.

The people that were working on my team were nice folks, but they really didn’t have my startups interests in mind because they were mercenaries. Hired guns have little emotion and very little skin in the game. They’re interested in doing a job and getting paid.

That’s not to say that using offshore labor selectively does not work. I continue to use and recommend a particular small shop with fantastic individuals and great talent.

But relying on core work to be accomplished that didn’t happen all within the same physical room much less 13,000 miles away was a mistake that cost me dearly.

I should have built a team locally and iterated quickly. Instead I was acting like I had scale.

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    Hard to find the right people nowadays, most of them are mercenaries like you've mentioned.