Successful entrepreneurs are most often times the ones who are willing to try something different and find a way to make it work.
I recently spoke with Jeetu Melwani of Beaglo.com, a startup out of Startup Chile, that help finders locate great deals the way Google helps you find information. He grew his startup from zero to MVP in 11 weeks using mostly outsourced talent.
Startup Chile is an incubator program that helps launch about 300 startup per year if you get accepted. The program requires you to have:
- - a talented team
- - a technology business idea that can go global
- - a plan to stay in Chile for 6 months
In return, they’ll offer you $40k equity free and all the traditional support of an incubator.
I caught up with Jeetu in order to ask him a few questions about his experience and how he managed to gain such significant traction for his startup through outsourcing while so many other of his peers were launching startups the more “traditional” way. Here’s a recap of his experiences and how he quickly grew his startup from zero to MVP in 11 weeks.
Franco:First up, thanks for taking the time to chat, we love sharing great startup stories with our community and audience. Can you tell me a little bit about why you decided to pack up and leave the U.S. for Chile in order to launch your startup?
Jeetu: You bet. First of all, Startup Chile really makes it enticing to go. The cost of living in the U.S, is high, the cost of labour and talent is higher and of course, you may have heard that getting U.S. VISA for international teams can cause issues. So it makes sense for me to create a startup outside of the U.S.
I moved to Santiago in February and I was 1 of 100 companies that arrived in the 6th generation of the program. The 8th cycle is currently open and they are looking for more internationals, so you should definitely check the program out.
I had pitched the idea for my startup – Beaglo – an online deal finding website – and came to Santiago with nothing but the idea (my co-founder wasn’t able to participate as planned). While I am very familiar with software (as I used to work for some major companies like Deloitte), but I haven’t coded in years and so I was looking for technical talent.
Franco: What did you do differently then other startups when trying to attract or find that technical talent?
Jeetu: Finding great and affordable talent to work with your startup – especially when it’s an untested concept – with 99 other startups at different stages can be challenging. It can take up a significant amount of time and resources, especially if you’re a first time founder.
While Startup Chile does have a job portal that can allow you to connect with local talent, those resources dry up pretty quickly and when you only have a concept, it can be difficult to attract high quality technical talent.
What’s more, I was very picky of whom I wanted to join the team. Ideally, I wanted someone who’d be part of the team for a long time, no contracts etc. I did end up getting a couple of non-technical employees from here to help with design, marketing and social media on a part-time basis. But more so to share the startup culture locally.
Given the fact that I was experienced with outsourcing and managing an international team from my previous work experience and how challenging it was to find programmers here in Chile, I decided to turn to outsourcing as a way of finding technical talent.
Franco: So how do you actually go out and find quality outsourced labour?
Jeetu: I started out by browsing sites like odesk and elance, but I really wanted a long term employee that could become a major part of our startup and culture, so I turned to Staff.com. I quickly found a Ruby on Rails programmer with 8 years experience for under $1500/month. We did a 10 hour trial, where he delivered amazing results and I hired him immediately.
As for design, I wanted someone more local, and part-time at first – that could help get us a decent MVP.
11 weeks later, I was one of the few startups (out of all those that had arrived in Chile with nothing) that has had a good amount of progress. At this point, we’ve validated that people wanted this service and we’ve just launched our beta to onboard lots of users.
Franco: So how did you actually go about managing an international team while going through an incubator program?
Jeetu: I’ve had lots of experience with outsourcing before in my previous career. Given the fact that I’m not planning to be in Chile forever, that there was a lack of local technical talent, and that it’s cheaper to outsource I decided to focus on structuring the company on this type of workforce. This way no matter where I move to, my team and startup will still be in place and able to deliver from anywhere.
There’s less work involved, but more organization. If you have no experience with outsourcing, you’ll need a solid process like step-by-step guide developed by Liam and Staff.com – otherwise you’re bound to make mistakes.
I communicate with my overseas team twice per day – once when they start in the morning (at night my time) and once when they end (morning my time). I need to be very specific about what I want done on a daily basis. This means that I need to prepare proper instructions, wireframes and screenshots about what I want done, but we have an amazing team and they deliver. We release something new every week for testing and product refinement.
Even my local staff operates like outsourced labour. We only interact for 3 hours, 3 times per week. There are no long meetings. We all know our deliverables and trust each other to work as a team. This lifestyle gives my employees flexibility and but the system allows us all to stay organized and accountable to each other.
Franco: What tools/methodologies do you use to stay organized and keep communication consistent and effective?
Jeetu: We use a project management tool called Trello to break down a major feature or campaigns into specific tasks and deliverables, for which different people are responsible for.
You also need to have some kind of forum or discussion tool. We use HipChat and have different rooms where team members can post progress or thought/comments. No matter where you’re working from or what time it is, the chat logs are available there so you can go back and read or see what’s happened since you were last online.
These tools allow is all to stay in touch and on-track no matter where we are or what’s going on – which is one of the most central elements to overcome if you’re planning on outsourcing or managing a remote team.
If you haven’t considered outsourcing and how it can impact your startup’s growth and output yet because you aren’t sure how to go about it or don’t have any experience managing an international team, go ahead and check out Liam Martin’s “The Complete Guide To Outsourcing” on StartupPlays.com.
It’s an in-depth project plan on how to do everything related to outsourcing and drive business growth through this model.