DevsData is a small software agency, with Google-level engineers and a vast network of senior expert contractors. We’re all about premium quality and business understanding.
DevsData vs Toptal or Gun.io
We like to think about ourselves as a firm similar to Toptal, but better.
Indeed, many of our employees and contractors have renowned companies on their CVs, be it tech titans (Google, Microsoft, Intel, Mozilla), hedge funds, and banks (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, TradeLink, Winton). Some of them are MENSA members or frequent tech conference/meet-up speakers. Also, some of them founded their own companies in the past to experience entrepreneurship. They have graduated from top Computer Science and business universities, are workaholics, and, more importantly, in an ever-changing tech landscape – they never stop learning.
But apart from all of that, the number one trait, after all, for our employees, contractors, and even for non-tech personnel is the brainpower ability to come up with solutions to non-obvious problems. We discover it through a very rigorous, multi-stage recruitment process that only the best of the best can pass.
The way we are different from companies like Toptal or alike is that because of a smaller size, we can offer a much more personalized, custom, and direct approach. A small vendor adapts faster to the dynamic needs of the client. Without the overhead of an aggressive sales force, or a huge marketing department, we can compensate our engineers better hence maintaining premium quality.
These are 3 common complains that we hear from the clients that used Toptal before:
1. Their engineers are involved in many projects at the same time, oftentimes working more than 8h a day, and when they are really needed for the company – they are not available. DevsData, on the other hand, offers dedicated engineers to the project, with a time overlap with eastern or pacific timezone stated in the contract.
2. Lack of business understanding and implementing the features in a way that is good for a short-term (prototype), but not necessarily long-term (client said he was forced to rewrite a big portion of the codebase as it was not able to handle real-life, production demand). Poor tech decisions if not supervised by an experienced CTO or tech lead from the client.
3. Their rates are really expensive. People are smart, true, and their rates start from sixty dollars an hour, however, that is for a skillset that resembles a junior engineer rather than a senior. The rate of a true senior from Toptal is much higher.
On top of that, we think we offer just better engineers than Toptal, but it is just our personal opinion, of course. And the opinion of our clients.
These are 3 common complains that we hear from the clients that used Toptal before:
vs a regular agency or a dev shop
As brutal as it sounds, more often than not, agencies employ mediocre people.
Even if they have years of experience, clients can sense a lack of acumen or substandard resourcefulness in the team. Oftentimes, the experience is of the wrong kind, not a fit for a particular client’s needs, and out-of-date.
Issues can be endless starting from poor communication, wrong engineering practices, total misunderstanding of priorities and business objectives, non-ethical over-billing, over-engineering the solution, using obsolete tech, aforementioned lack of necessary acumen in the engineering team, wrong kind of experience, personal conflicts between team members, or even poor English (if you contract outside of the US).
Indeed, ten competent software engineers will easily top a total fixed payroll of $1,000,000 – $1,500,000 annually, even outside of the US. Hardly any agency can afford that, especially when there is also a marketing, sales, and management team. Would you be surprised if we told you that there are agencies in Eastern Europe, especially in Ukraine, that pay $600 a month to their engineers? Yes, that is a month. And they sell it to clients as an experienced senior specialist. Do you really believe the person is “an expert”? Sounds ridiculous.
Another thing – many engineers or agencies will jump straight into coding without taking the time to really understand what the project is about. They DO NOT think about the business perspective, hear the client out, brainstorm and plan the initial phase together in a way that allows for fast iteration, feedback gathering, and rapid validation.
Our model is vastly different. Quality and client satisfaction are at the forefront of everything we do.
All of our full-time employees are assigned to long-term contracts with big corporate clients. For new contracts or smaller projects, we leverage our network of battle-tested senior software contractors, subject-matter experts that we build over the years in tech. Each and every one of them passed a rigorous, multi-stage recruitment process focused on checking brainpower, resourcefulness, the ability to find solutions to non-obvious problem-solving challenges quickly and cutting-edge software framework, tools, and engineering practices.
They are reliable, no-BS, ethical, high-achievers, and are genuinely passionate about technology with between 7 to 13 years of hands-on, international, versatile experience in the tech industry.
Combine it with a strong business understanding, down-to-earth management, crystal-clear, direct communication, results-oriented planning, frequent feedback, and a battle-tested work methodology that we have polished over the years in tech, and you will come up with a recipe that can substantially increase the odds of turning an idea into a successful digital product.
vs a freelancer
Using freelancers is often a good idea as it allows your company to meet dynamic needs. When it comes to software engineering, however, technical skills are only part of the puzzle.
In order for the sophisticated software projects to be successful, it requires excellent organization, priorities well-aligned with the client and business goals, and a battle-tested process.
Also, even the very best software engineers out there are often so focused on the technicalities that they are blind to the bigger picture, and business objectives, and to what the client really needs.
Having delivered numerous, extensive software projects for international companies over the years, and with talent from top technical and business universities, we are confident in our process and can guarantee a successful outcome, with low-maintenance from the client side.
Premium satisfaction results in recurring clients and referrals, and more exciting technology projects to build– That is what our passion is.
In addition, there is a global shortage of tech talent, especially in the US. Over the years we have interviewed countless people in the US, Canada, and EU, many of them asked for a rate of $140/h or higher, while not being able to crack even simple problem-solving challenges, or not having a basic understanding of Computer Science foundations.
That is absolutely terrible.
So, if you decide to go that route, thoroughly vet your freelancers; make sure they are really good. Involve other people in the process as well.
Ethics in tech, honesty and no-BS approach
Over the years in tech, we have seen many bad things happen. Clients are being scammed in ways that the work is anything but transparent. They have no idea what is going on or if there is any progress. This has been happening frequently in the tech world and that bothers us. We believe clients deserve honesty and transparency.
As a junior engineer, our good friend named David worked on a contract for a big financial institution in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He told us about a situation wherein a project manager sent him a task description. It was not too complicated, so he implemented it in 2 hours and presented a working functionality the same day. But it turned out that the intention of the project manager was not to assign this task to David but to ask for a time estimate, aside from that, he also sent it to 2 other engineers, all of them much more senior than David after 10+ years in the industry. These 2 senior engineers concluded that indeed the assignment was very complicated, multi-dimensional, and it would probably take at least 3 days to implement properly, so it is hilarious that David, despite being a junior engineer, actually built it in 2 hours and not days.
A few years ago, there was a loud affair in Europe wherein one of a software consulting company assigned just 2 engineers to a corporate contract that stated 6 people in the document. The situation was carefully masked for nearly 8 months.
Eventually, the client found out what was going on. Needless to say, the consulting was sued and does not operate anymore. Situations like these repeat over and over again. The work process is purposefully obfuscated, masked from the clients on every level, and especially from business people under an illusion of technical complexity.
We do not agree with a world like this and are sick and tired of the omnipresent, mischievous BS in the tech industry.
That is why we decided to set honesty and transparency as our core business value and we require them from all of our employees and contracts.
The way we work is fully transparent. The client can directly contact the engineers, is updated on the progress every day, and has access to the project management tool that is used. We regularly gather feedback and brainstorm together on the next vital milestones and plans. In case it is needed, the client also has direct contact with the company founder who can react quickly, and who is also up-to-date (on a high level) with what is going on in every project.
Rigorous, multi-stage recruitment process
To deliver what we promise, we came up with an extensive, multi-stage, rigorous recruitment process, tailored to a particular tech position, that we continuously improve.
As it is our “secret sauce”, it is not my intention to disclose every detail, but it involves things or stages like:
- CV prescreening
- An automated problem-solving algorithmic challenge
- Quick non-technical conversation
- 15-20 min problem solving challenge with one of our engineers – live coding
- Followup, longer calls with our engineers and non-tech team for further assessment
The important thing is to eliminate weak candidates very early in the process not to waste time on inferior talent, people without necessary acumen, brainpower, or CS fundamentals.
Skills and trait that we check:
- Communication and organizational skills
- Drive and passion
- Behaviour during difficult or unusual situation
- Business understanding
- Presentational skills
- Ability to think abstractly and finding generalized solutions for specific class of problems
- Intelligence and brainpower
- Reaction time
- Is the person up-to-date with the very recent tech changes?
- Computer Science fundations
- Awareness and knowledge of security aspects
- Deep understanding of and experience in the programming domain(s) stated in a CV
- Algorithmic problem-solving skills
Non-technical skills are also checked for the engineering roles.
DevsData LLC differs from a traditional agency or dev shop in 3 key areas:
Agencies are incentivized to utilize their full-time developers, even when they're not a great skill match. And they oversell their skills to the clients.
At DevsData, all of our full-time employees are assigned to long-term corporate projects on a contract basis.
For smaller projects, or at the beginning of business relationship, we custom-match clients with engineers or senior expert contractors from our network who area perfect match for the skills, experience and communication needs. Most of them are highly-experienced senior software engineers here in Europe that do full-time contracting, that we already worked with many time before with a very good outcome and client's satisfaction. Also, all of them passed a rigorous recruitment process that is described on this website.
Agencies spread their devs across multiple concurrent projects which is not effective.
DevsData's engineers are assigned to one particular project only. That vastly increased development speed, minimizes communication overhead and allows for a better budget utilization.
Agencies and freelancers over-bill the clients. And more often than not, the projects are under-managed, and priorities - misinterpreted.
At DevsData, for every project we assign an experienced project manager, often with business degree from a renowned European university who makes sure that the priorities are well-aligned and feedback - gathered regularly and frequently. It also means, that from the client side, the project is of low-maintenance.
Being in an IT business for years we know many senior engineers over-bill and BS that the work/implementation took longer than expected.
Every person that is recommended by a DevsData is already battle-tested (we worked with him/her with a very good client satisfaction), honest, reliable, and exceptionally experienced.
DevsData engineers and product managers have attended top-tier European universities, worked at tech titans, hedge funds, and are high-achievers with international experience. We are passionate about technology and we never stop learning.
We have people that graduated from Oxford, mensa members, ex-Googlers, ex hedge fund employees, experienced tech leads, and open source contributors.
Business understanding first
Business-oriented approach, always keeping an eye on the client’s goal and the progress and No over-engineering or pointless work.
Many engineers or agencies will jump straight into coding without taking the time to really understand what the project is about. They do not think about the business perspective, hear the client out, brainstorm and plan the initial phase together in a way that allows for fast iteration, feedback gathering, and rapid validation. And indeed – every project is different than the previous one.
Battle-tested work methodology
Proactive to suggest useful ideas. Low-maintenance team members with excellent project organization.
Brutal fact–According to a report by The Standish Group, many software development projects fail. It is not enough to just hire experienced engineers to build a successful digital product. There are many other pieces of a puzzle involved including business perspective, market validation, and most importantly, a proven work methodology that facilitates transparent & dynamic communication as well as continuous feedback gathering/idea validation.
Good also for startups
In contrast to big software companies, we do not have marketing/sales/management overhead and can offer more experienced specialists, for a more competitive price.
While charging high US consulting rates on the majority of the projects, we have a special affinity for startups and small companies with an innovative idea, and are willing to negotiate a more favorable cost structure.
We have experience working with SV-based startups, and have a local representative in San Mateo, California.
We read about tech, even after hours
With the world moving that fast, and changing tech landscape, staying up-to-date with modern tech is crucial.
A genuine passion for technology in all team members. They never stop learning.
What is more – many of them are tech speakers on local conferences and meetups.
Small, dynamic software vendor able to adjust quickly to client needs and to deliver more features before an important business meeting or a fund raising milestone.
Get things done in weeks, not months; and in hours, not days. (See David’s story)
We move quickly, always with an individualized approach for every client.
Super transparent communication, with a no-BS approach – always know what the status, and what the plans are.
Over the years in tech, we have seen many bad things happening in tech. We do not agree with them and want to do things in a way that puts client’s interest first, and work in a transparent environment.
Vast network of exceptional tech specialists
Throughout the years in the tech industry, we have built a vast network of experienced tech specialists – domain experts in various areas.
The founders of DevsData have graduated from one of the most prestigious Computer Science universities in Europe, the students and alumni of which attend and achieve high ranks at national and international programming algorithmic contests.
We are active in local tech communities – many of our engineers are speakers on local meetups and conferences. Some of them have written tech books and are considered tech micro-influencers.
In our work we treat every project as a rare opportunity to network and befriend with likeminded tech people that we consider exceptional and well-versed in their domain. Have a look at our recruitment case study where we have sourced 25+ tech specialists (software, UX, machine learning, and big data) and relocated them to Oslo, Norway.
Serious about security
We worked with sensitive financial data before, genuinely caring about security and pay attention to details.
For the project that we are involved in, data leakage would be catastrophic – that is . a reason why we involve high quality engineers to ensure the confidentiality of every project.
A highly-selective club of consultants
While it might seem like the path of the least resistance, engaging a standard software agency or dev shop may ultimately cost more for less output.
The things to consider are:
Agencies are weakened by the payroll plague.
Ten good software engineers will easily top a total fixed payroll of $1,500,000 annually in the US, and $1m in Europe. This means that the shop absolutely must come up with $125,000/month just to meet their engineering expenses. Furthermore, agencies with a fixed, recurring payroll are encouraged to assign the next available employee to a client's project — rather than the best one for the job. It is hard for agencies to avoid billing you the available B-player vs. hiring an A-player with the exact skills set that you require. And whether or not this employee knows your stack or desired technology, the agency is encouraged to tell you that they do.
Agencies must remain on the "Agency Treadmill".
"They were great at first, but..." is a common refrain we hear from clients who have been burned by agencies before. The economics of a fixed bench payroll dictate a priority toward new client acquisition, and fast payback of the acquisition cost in order to get to a profit margin. This means that the relationship will always be great at first, then diminish in importance over time as the best talent gets re-deployed to wooing new clients.
Agencies must say "yes" to new deals even if not a good fit.
Fixed bids worsen the Agency Treadmill problem. Since agencies require a fresh business to survive, agencies must say "yes" to deals that infuse their business with cash, even if they may have trouble delivering on those commitments. By the time work must be delivered, the client's money has already been spent (typically to finance the previous months' operations). This business model and pricing model combination encourage agencies to take on more than they can handle and to kick the can down the road with your money. When it's time to deliver on your project's critical final stages, the agency's leadership is already courting new business.
Our model is vastly different
We believe in the idea that successful projects are the result of complimentary, talented people working together. We also know that every project has its own dynamics, variables, and stages, so we have built our model around flexibility, finding the right talent for the right work, at the right time.
We believe in the idea that successful projects are the result of complimentary, talented people working together. We also know that every project has its own dynamics, variables, and stages, so we’ve built our model around flexibility, finding the right talent for the right work, at the right time.
We are different than a regular agency, and we think it has some distinct advantages, but it is really not down to what we think. Schedule a conversation with one of our developers and see for yourself.
Quality and client satisfaction are at the forefront of everything we do. All of our full-time employees are assigned to long-term contracts with big corporate clients. For new contracts or smaller projects, we leverage our network of battle-tested senior software
contractors, subject-matter experts, that we have build over the years in tech. Each and every one of them have passed a rigorous, multi-stage recruitment process focused on checking brainpower, resourcefulness, the ability to find solutions to non-obvious problem-solving challenges quickly and cutting-edge software framework, tools, and engineering practices. There are many engineers and agencies out there with the “years of experience”, but we strongly believe one of the key factors that distinguishes the mediocre from the good is – brainpower.
Got a project idea?
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- Find out how bespoke software can help your business.
- Estimate the time and budget needed to develop a solution.
- Learn more about our expertise and capabilities.