Leveraging Outsourcing for Medium-sized Companies
An interview with Teri Rogers, Founder/CEO of Brick Underground
Tell us about Brickunderground and your role.
We started Brick Underground about 10 years ago to help people figure out New York real estate. Our website tells you everything from how to rent, buy, or sell your property to how to tip your doorman; basically, anything that might come up in the cycle of New York real estate events.
I founded the company after having worked in journalism. Now, as CEO, I focus on publishing and advertising, and just keeping everything together. I also work directly with development.
How did you first go about finding tech talent in NYC?
I started the site as a journalist with no tech experience, so my experience with finding tech talent in general was difficult from the get-go. I thought I could just “do it” without a lot of help. I was so incredibly naive!
In the nine years before we started working with Jobsity, we cycled through four very part-time freelance developers—it was all we could afford locally. So, at first it would just be a guy in his living room giving us 10 hours per week.
Then, towards the end of that time, we hired a couple of agencies that gave us somebody who gave us about the same amount of time; one billed by the hour, which was a very expensive disaster. In general it felt like we were just plugging up holes—just fixing bugs. We’re a business of journalists, so we just never had the budget for full-time dev.
When did you realize you needed to outsource dev talent?
It was quite a journey for me to decide we would outsource our dev talent. I had heard from time to time of people using developers in Ukraine, but again, not being totally familiar with the tech industry, I was really skeptical of offshoring. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to get things done as immediately as I needed to and the political situation seemed unstable, and I wasn’t sure how that might affect us.
I had put out an ad to search for a developer on the WeWork site and I ended up choosing between Jobsity to have the dev work performed outside the country and another dev firm in my building. I went with the dev firm in my building because I still couldn’t get over the trust issue I had with sending the work offshore. That was the biggest mistake on my part.
At that point, I had done all the reference checking on Jobsity, and they were great references. But, the lure of being able to just run downstairs and tap someone on the shoulder if my site was crashing was too great.
Months went by, and we were still in the situation of just plugging holes. We were just stuck, not being able to create any new features, and I still had all the anxiety of before when something would go wrong.
So, when I finally realized that we couldn’t keep working like this, I had already checked out Jobsity, met eyeball to eyeball on Skype with Andres (Jobsity Founder/CEO), and just decided to take the leap. And, it’s been amazing. It’s like having a technology butler. Our developer is always there when we are.
How has hiring dev talent with Jobsity impacted your business?
For just a bit more than what we were paying the last part-time developer we had before, we’re getting a full-time, dedicated developer. It’s a Godsend - I just never thought that we could do this as a business of our size.
As soon as we added Carlos (our Jobsity developer), not only were we able to plug up all the holes as they happened and eliminate a lot of stress—because when anything happened, half of the turmoil and anxiety was just waving our arms to get the attention of our part-time developer—but we also immediately started creating features that we could monetize. It had an immediate and extremely significant effect on our revenue. It was just an amazing gift.
I’ve referred Jobsity a few times. I know one opportunity did materialize and they are so happy with Jobsity developers as well.
Why is “nearshoring” or outsourcing in the same timezone important for you?
We work really reasonable hours: 9 to 5. So, it’s important for us to have someone really responsive during that time. When working with Carlos, we feel like he’s in the same room because he’s working when we are.
There’s also a stability issue. A few years ago I talked to someone at one of my competitors who works with dev. They outsource to Ukraine, and he would fly out there a couple times every year. But, then the conflict started, and I just thought—wow, that is way beyond what I want to deal with.
Then, when I was initially thinking about offshoring, I also thought the language barrier would be really difficult. But with Jobsity, it hasn’t been an issue at all. In fact, we had hired a Russian developer through a firm right in our building, and it was often harder to communicate with him than with Carlos in Colombia.
How have you evaluated developer candidates for hire?
Without a tech background, it’s hard to really evaluate what you need in a developer. Before, working with freelancers, I would just hire them on a prayer, basically. The only thing I could do, really, was check references, and candidates will only ever give you the good references, of course.
With Jobsity, it was so easy. I just explained to them what I needed to have done, and they gave me different options. We just looked at our budget and interviewed the candidates that worked for us financially.
What advice do you have for CEOs in the US looking for tech talent?
I’m such an evangelist for Jobsity. My advice is this: stop whatever you’re doing right now, and go to Jobsity. Seriously, it was nine years before we found them, and it’s made such a huge difference. It’s so hard to find good, affordable tech talent.
Take the leap. There are places that you can go to get cheap development work, but they’re not going to be worth it. Having a dedicated full-time developer with great English skills and the same work hours as you makes a world of difference to your bottom line and your peace of mind.