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  • Ronald Ace Fitzgerald
    3 weeks ago

    Although I angel invest full-time now, I am a pretty scrappy engineer at heart and love to hire remote engineers and manage them on my own when I work on personal projects.

    I have one “project” that’s turning into a startup and I’ve tried many of these remote engineering firms for it — Toptal, Crew, Andela, Upwork, Remote.com, Hubstaff Talent etc.

    The other answers here are absolutely correct that Toptal and Andela are in their own league compared to Upwork and Freelancer.com. The latter have no filter, and yes you will waste your time hiring people from there because while some quality candidates do exist, they are a needle in the haystack and in all likelihood you won’t meet them.

    When I hired from Toptal, I knew I had to put down at least 80/hr to hire a good candidate which I was prepared to do. I got a fairly decent engineer from Eastern Europe who was very good at React and Django, the technologies I was hiring for. He helped me build the dashboard for the telemedicine platform I am working on (still not yet launched), and I was impressed by his responsiveness. The experience was way better than wasting my time with Upwork.

    The main strengths over traditional “Upworky” options were:

    code quality
    commit frequency
    inclusion of tests in code when I requested them
    codebase file structure
    familiarity with CI/Devops
    communication (I prefer 100% slack with daily check ins, this style worked well for me.)
    But as any entrepreneur, I am always trying to get the best bang for buck and also am always trying to attract as much high quality remote talent to my company as possible so I started researching Toptal competitors. I came across Crew and Andela but they seemed no different from Toptal. I later came across this fairly small company started by this Stanford grad I met at a networking event in Mountain View. At first I was hesitant, but the company Learning Dollars gave me 10 hours of free engineering. I thought it was a bit too good to be true that I don’t have to put down money before hiring an engineer, but it turned out to be legit. I got to try out a couple engineers and saw how they gel with my style and needs before I made any commitments — one of the two engineers I worked with gelled. I got matched with a pretty good Django dev and he currently works with our Toptal dev — they are together pushing out a new version of our dashboard based on customer feedback every week. Learning Dollars is charging me 35 per hour for the developer, and Toptal 80 per hour. Both are good and I’m keeping both of them right now.

    I think Toptal is great because of its vetting process which Upwork, Freelancer, and some of these traditional market places lack. They’re a pretty revolutionary company in this space for that reason. That being said, there are some interesting companies starting to compete with Toptal and offering free trials, and they have similar vetting processes in my opinion, so I would try those options out as well, especially if you don’t have to put much down.