Im located in Minneapolis,Mn. Im starting up an online business here in U.S with market focus in Africa.Im building an e-commerce (auction) site for the growing African savvy internet users.
I am looking to have at least 2 programmers work on this site to develop a prototype now before we go seeking for funds later. But finding freelance developers on a low budget in the twin-cities area has proven tough.
How do i find guys that will assist/partner with me develop this site without costing me arms and legs ?. I do value the skills of developers, but isn't there a place to find guys that are willing to show of their skills and creativity for a small fee ?. I've been thinking of placing a few ads on some area colleges in their graphic-design and computer science departments Cool?. Craigslist just provides me resumes of people i cant afford to pay $12/hr. Should i offer equity ?
Thanks a lot !!!
I disagree with bkparikh in some parts of his answer. Think of it like this, when one graduated from a college/university, what are they trying to do? Get a job. What are people with less skills or less experience need? More jobs! The problem with freelancing online on websites such as Elance and Odesk is that, you are not getting awesome developers who are really passionate about coding, developing, designing or whatever because those professional coders, developers, designers are fully booked and doing tonne of their own extra projects along with their normal day jobs.
If you want to find passionate developers, you should goto Google groups, or discussion boards for developers and try your luck there. I found my cofounder/developer via Google groups. The best thing is that you can narrow your search by going into the group of the language you want to code your site (ex: PHP). Then you can pick a person, say the top 5 contributors, click on their name, fill in the little Google captcha and you get their personal email. You aren't going through layers of other websites, paying some money to post a classified, you are using a discussion board!
The coder I found is so awesome, understanding and best of all, passionate about what he is doing.
It's unlikely that you'll be able to find a good local developer for less than $12/hour. In addition to have a compelling product, you'll also want a designer who thinks through the user's experience on the site. You can do a lot of the design work upfront by using a tool such as Balsamiq Mockups to create simple mockups of your website that you can test on your friends and family to make sure the messaging and actions are intuitive prior to actually having anyone develop them.
Here are a few options for development:
You need to decide what you're really looking for.
Do you really want (one or more) cofounders? That would make sense based on where you've got to so far. Finding a CTO is a whole different proposition to hiring a coder - and it's a great validation step, as cofounders are investors too.
Are you looking for someone who'll risk share, but not a cofounder? If you want great, it's likely that great costs. And the chances of finding great for less than $12 an hour aren't great. But if you have a clear route to fundraising or/and monetisation, and you're willing to part with some of the upside through equity, revenue share or work-for-hire with a risk multiplier then you have the basis of a conversation. You find great by finding work you like and asking, "who built this?"
Do you want something tangible, at a low cost? If you have a tight specification, then most of the online freelance sites let you work in a way that you only part with your cash when the work is delivered. So get that spec (or an outline) online, with a budget, and see who bids.
But most people (in my experience) who aren't experienced developers or hirers of developers haven't got a spec, just an outline. In this case, you're pretty exposed if you set out to hire a cheap developer: most likely you'll spend your money and get 60% to your first goal. So spend your own time mocking up the app and its workflow - hand-drawn, or using one of the many mockup tools out there. Then, either keep your money in your pocket - a good mockup gives you a good pitch - or hire a designer just to polish it for you.
My guess is that you need a cofounder. But plenty of startups buy in design and development, so all these options are valid.
Whatever you decide, good luck!
You can't offer someone zero percent of nothing so offering equity isn't an option.
This always seems to me like the wrong way to go about things. Trying to get something done for next to nothing only to prove what? If the product has any kind of value then getting funding to do a prototype would be a good place to start, then follow that up with another feasibility study and get funding to roll out the full product.
Having been down the equity path and totally burned on it, I must say, you need to learn to program yourself if you don't have the funds. You just are not going to find people, very good people anyway, that will do this.
You need to be able to implement the idea, not just come up with them. What happens is, you have all this time on your hands and your developer does not. So you keep coming up with ideas to implement that your developer doesn't have time to do. It is a vicious cycle.