Why You Should Eavesdrop on Your Customers at Parties

Andrew Kinzer · April 19, 2013

A few months ago, we were at a tech party and overheard somebody get asked about their experience using our service as a developer. We love gathering feedback, so of course we had to eavesdrop!

We were expecting to hear something about how it worked really well, and they love it - but instead what we heard was that the experience was, "OK, but not great."

Wait a minute. OK, but not great? How is that possible? I thought we were doing really well based off our more vocal members and overall numbers.

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Common Traits of Unusually Effective Freelancers

Manuel Medina · April 11, 2013

Many developers and designers choose freelancing because of the lifestyle it gives them. Working when you want on what you want allows you to always be doing something interesting, trying new companies, and constantly updating your technology toolbox. Despite its obvious benefits, being a freelancer is hard. Sourcing and vetting clients is incredibly time consuming and sometimes demoralizing, marketing yourself is an art in it itself and tends not to come natural to most developers, and the wear and tear to go from one client contract to another drives good developers to abandon freelancing to embrace the security of a full time job. This path is the most natural cycle of freelancing.

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Migrating From Rails To Ember.js

Wes Hather · April 5, 2013

There's a ton of documentation out there on how to build a brand new Ember.js app from the ground up, but not much documentation on how to migrate an existing Rails app to an Ember app. I'm going to share our experience with it, why we decided to migrate in the first place, and some pointers to make your migration a little easier if you wish to take your application to the next level.

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Confessions of Developer Marketplace

Andrew Kinzer · March 29, 2013

Everybody thinks that building a marketplace for software projects is easy. If you were watching HN at the end of 2011, you probably saw our debut soon after TinyProj's (partnered with GroupTalent), and then a multitude of new sites popping up ever since including Ooomf, HackerTrade, Matchist, TechTeams, 3desk, HackerList, WorkList and more through 2012 I'm sure.

Why so many? Because everybody thinks it's easy – and they're wrong.

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Moonlighting is the New Job Interview

Manuel Medina · March 22, 2013

“Before we hire anyone we give them a small project to chew on first. We see how they handle the project, how they communicate, how they work, etc.“ - Getting Real, 37 Signals

It is no secret that most good developers and designers are already gainfully employed – by others or themselves. To most it seems that the only way to score a great developer is to wait for her/him to quit his job, poach him, or import him. We respectfully submit another way of attracting talent. Moonlighting.

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Why We Don't Use Heroku

Gordon Hempton · March 15, 2013

The elephant in the room for any web application developer is the production environment. How does one get their code to transcend happily running on localhost and enter the ether of running on a live, public-facing web server? I know many extremely intelligent developers who shudder at the thought of having to deal with the ins and outs of a real deployment. The standard response to this is Heroku.

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Why We Switched From Stripe To Balanced (and almost chose BancBox)

Wes Hather · February 28, 2013

It's amazing how easy it is to collect payments on the web these days. You can start charging credit cards on your website in less than 24 hours if you know what you're doing. With so many great payment API's to choose from, we ended up choosing Balanced. Here's why...

Integrating billing into an app used to be a pain in the ass. I remember integrating BrainTree into a previous startup back in 2008, and it was a four month long process. Applying for a merchant account to even start accepting credit card payments took at least three months to get approved. Furthermore, integrating BrainTree's API was no easy task and took us a couple of weeks to launch at the time.

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How To Structure a Five Minute Pitch

Andrew Kinzer · November 17, 2012

Pitching is one of the most essential skills an entrepreneur can have. At any given time, you're going to have to convince customers, investors, co-founders, candidates, the media, and even your family that what you're doing is new and compelling.

One of the rarer forms of pitching is the five minute un-interrupted pitch format, most frequently used at demo day pitches for accelerators such as Y Combinator and Techstars, as well as StartupWeekends. This is a particularly unique beast to tangle with, and should be approached with attention to structure.

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7 Monsters that Scare the Crap Out of Software Developers (Illustration)

Andrew Kinzer · October 31, 2012

We hope you like our spooktacular Halloween-themed illustration. Please feel free to embed it in your own blog, pin it on Pinterest, or any other devilish network!

An illustration of a creepy hunch back monsterThis time of year, we are all reminded of our worst nightmares. For some it's the monster under the bed, for others it's the skeleton from the bone yard.

But for software developers, their greatest fears are of far more diabolical creatures. Boss monsters!

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How Much Developers Make Per City, and Tech Stacks (Infographic)

Manuel Medina · October 25, 2012

The infographic below was produced by Killer Infographics, a Seattle based infographic design studio. You can find them on twitter at @TopInfographics.

An illustration of three developers, referencing the infographicBack in August, we analyzed data from 3K developers and over 150 transactions submitted to the GroupTalent marketplace looking for patterns on pricing, type and location of projects, choice of tech-stack, and overall trends in the marketplace for software freelancing.

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Seven Habits of Highly Effective Apps

Guest Contributor · June 25, 2012

This is a Guest Post by John Nelson of Seattle App Lab, a mobile consulting agency in Seattle, Washington. Its team has put over 15 years of experience building desktop, Web and mobile products and services into building the company.

You found a team of software developers to build your app, from perfecting its look and feel to coding it up to make it work. With testing complete and not a bug in-sight, you’re home free, right?

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Keep App Costs Down Without Relinquishing Quality

Andrew Kinzer · June 22, 2012

Most project owners come to GroupTalent with two things in-mind: a vision of their dream project and a budget for it.  That vision usually comes in the form of a set of features. When mixed with marketing, some PR and hustle, those features can bring you a lot of customers, and potentially profits.

If you want to build an app, know that the first roadblock usually comes when your feature set needs to be reconciled with your app budget. In other words, when there are more features in your app than your budget can pay for. (We have seen cases that run the other direction, but those cases are rare.)

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Pixels & Polish: How to Find the Right Web Designers

Andrew Kinzer · June 18, 2012

When it comes to building a web or mobile application, there’s a time and place for aesthetic design.

Getting your app’s core features up and running is paramount to perfecting its user experience, but there will be a time when you’re ready to make your product look as good as it works. Putting time into your app’s visuality translates into more time spent by users per session and improves the likelihood that they’ll tell their friends about it (virality).

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How to Pay Freelancers

Andrew Kinzer · June 15, 2012

By Sharon Florentine

One of the biggest obstacles to a successful relationship between freelancer and project owner is compensation. Settling on a project’s cost is one task, but agreeing to when and how the money will change hands is another matter altogether.

No matter which way you cut it, freelancers face the risk of not getting paid. Project owners face the uncertainty of whether freelance designers and freelance developers will deliver the promised work and quality.

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Five Flavors of Designer

Andrew Kinzer · June 13, 2012

Not all designers were created equal. Some navigate Photoshop and Illustrator with their eyes closed.  Others map out an app's components in minutes. And then there are the mystical unicorns of designers who can do a little bit of everything.

After you understand which components of the design process you need help with, you can set out to find the right fit. There are common patterns to look for in terms of designer skill sets because they coincide heavily with designer responsibilities and will help you find that perfect candidate.

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How To Create an Application: Five Simple Steps

Andrew Kinzer · June 11, 2012

So you’ve decided to build a web application. Now what? When it comes to web app development, the trek from idea and concept to a finished polished and well-designed application is tough to navigate, but charting that path and tailoring it to your skills and needs is the first and most crucial step to creating an app users will use and love.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the multitude of steps in the app design and development. Find inspiration here. Design this feature there. Don’t use one tool, but dive into another. Hire developers, but only the ones with pink hair. Yes, there is a method to this madness, but there are 5 key steps that need to be taken to build an app successfully.

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How To Design a Web or Mobile App

Andrew Kinzer · June 6, 2012

Design thinking is more important than ever, but it hasn’t always been that way.

Web and mobile apps only became ubiquitous in the second half of the 2000s, and for companies to understand that making these experiences easy to use and attractive will mean the difference between success and failure.

If you know anyone who worked with clients as a design shop in 2007, you’ve probably heard your friend complain about every client saying: “I want it to look like Apple.” At the time, they were referencing Apple’s website aesthetic, but today when people talk about Apple, they’re referring to something else: The simplicity and intuitiveness of the experience as a whole.

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Lessons from Homer Simpson: Elements of a P2P Marketplace

Andrew Kinzer · June 1, 2012

This post was contributed to by Sam Jp, a developer and entrepreneur in San Francisco. See his GroupTalent profile here.

When I watched The Simpsons as a kid, I thought Ned Flanders was a dope for lending his stuff to Homer. He’d never get anything back, whether it was his lawnmower or lawn chair. What I’ve realized over time is that Ned’s intentions were right — he just needed a little help enforcing the rules of lending.

Today, peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplaces have been springing up. Airbnb’s rise to success has caused just about everybody to think how they can create an “Airbnb for (insert anything). For example, today you can borrow somebody’s time on TaskRabbit, somebody’s handbag on BagBorrowSteal, and even somebody’s boat on JustShareIt. The list goes on!

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How to Write a Job Description

Andrew Kinzer · April 10, 2012

Have you ever posted a job description and thought, “Man, I hope this attracts a lot of boring mediocre job candidates for my company?”

Probably not, but you may still be inadvertently saying *exactly* that if you haven’t written it to answer the one and only question you need to be thinking about: What does the best talent want?

Let’s set the stage by establishing that this is literally the first time somebody is likely to have heard about you. When they come across your job description, you’re lucky to have about 5-10 seconds to grab their attention and make them notice you. You have an opportunity to make it onto their Top 5 list of companies worth talking to, or be brushed aside like the rest.

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How You Build It: Pinterest

Manuel Medina · April 5, 2012

Pinterest is a wildly successful startup that allows you to "pin" images from any site, create collections, and share with friends. We found it valuable to deconstruct their success, so we could connect the dots and tell a story.

Pinterest, Pinterest. You badass mf-er. We salute you.

Who would have guessed that a team which spent most of its time grinding out design details and doing little to no public relations would grow into a juggernaut with 11 million uniques, challenging Facebook in user engagement? This company barely got a passing glance from Silicon Valley's know-it-all investors when it launched in 2010.

Their story teaches us that laser-like focus on UX + obsessing about how well your site reads on any device = a damn good strategy for building a consumer site.  We wouldn't say it's the only way.  But if it worked for Pinterest, it might work for you. Let’s discuss...

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So You Think You Can Freelance?

Manuel Medina · March 15, 2012

Most software developers and Web designers we know are freelancing on the side. Some want to expand their range and take on new challenges. Others may be in it more for financial gain or to extend their startup runway.

But being a great dev or designer doesn’t automatically transform you into a great Web or software freelancer. You’ll need other skills and workflow processes unique to freelancing work in order to become that person everyone needs when they to get a Web app built.

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Eight Ways To Avoid Employee Burnout

Andrew Kinzer · January 4, 2012

In the software world, heavy sprints are used to reach project milestones by meeting project goals and deadlines. They’re designed to get a lot of work done very quickly. But when they drag on for months on end, they become a problem by contributing to morale in the workplace and high attrition. In other words, employee burnout soars in the absence of a company culture that shows care for employees.

A software sprint is a chunk of work defined by a particular set of application features and timed with some set of events. The deadline could be defined by a conference, a press release, a biz/dev deal, or just because it's time to get the darn features out. You set a deadline and work your butt off to meet it. The sense of urgency (either real or simulated) can motivate your troops and dramatically increase productivity by making it extremely expensive to work in periods of indecision.

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Changing the Way High-End Projects Find Amazing Developers

Andrew Kinzer · October 20, 2011

The problem we are solving has been staring us all in the face for years. We've felt it when we’ve founded previous startups, when we've had to deal with outsourcing portions of product at larger companies, and anytime we were looking to do contract work. When we’ve been in charge of hiring, we've expended large amounts of energy and time locating and interviewing talent that was unskilled, indifferent about the product, or just not a good fit based on lack of specialized knowledge. As contractors we've spent countless hours on the phone and wading through a barrage of emails while employers and recruiters (who we don’t know) try to sell us on projects that have unrealistic funds, or are in a problem space that are a complete mismatch for our interests.

Our experiences on both sides of this equation are not unique or rare. In our search for validation we've encountered endless stories from contractors, development shops, startups, and large companies as both buyers and sellers of talent. Despite their unique needs, they all share one universal pain: the way high end projects and software developers find each other in the market is completely broken.

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