Recently I traveled to Oslo for a couple of days. My aim was to meet people involved in startups in Norway, get to know their ideas for business, the need for software development and what is the market’s approach to working with teams from Poland.
I need to admit that people are positive, hardworking and open to help. First of all the Norwegian approach to startup development is very reasonable - start locally, aim globally. Organizations such as Innovation Norway try to activate and assist in the development of small businesses and also want to point global approach for achieving goals.
Norway as well as Sweden, Finland and Denmark is the perfect place to start your business. The market is very reactive, diverse and quickly revises all the ideas, giving advantage for reasonable pivoting when necessary. Probably this is one of the reasons why Norway startups are one of the most successful and innovative. Oslo provides access to several organizations that will quickly help You find the right environment to growth. One of the most important are: Innovation Norway, StartupLab, MashUp. An excellent list of things that you can do and organisations providing help can be found on Startup Norway website.
In Poland the development of start-ups is also fast and vast, but from the economical growth point of view Poland has been specializing slightly more in general IT where software development has it’s big share. Few of the most interesting solutions in the world are based on Polish skills. Google and other big corporations employ Poles in great numbers and it feels like Poland is becoming the economic centre for IT development offering the best quality.
But let’s start from the beginning - from the point of view of a Norwegian startup.
Software development for startups
Startups need software development.
Most of startups are based on software solutions. That is a big challenge especially when there aren’t any IT members in founders team and You have to find someone to write solid MVP description for the product - choose technologies, create features first and estimate development time and cost.
Starting from Founders.
The best start is to have software developer in the founders team especially a developer that can perform multiple functions: a coder, quality controller, head developer, as well as PM. In general he should have a good knowledge of IT, which in the long run he will be able to use as a CTO (person responsible for the technical development of the product). Founder is cheap, as he has shares in the business and works twice as much than hired developers. Additionally, in most of the cases the startup idea is his / hers passion, so … yeah.
Hiring software developers for in-house development.
The second common approach is hiring developers dedicated to the project. In the beginning usually one or two additional team members are enough, if funding is big enough.
The main advantage is that developers will be on-site, which will make the communication easy and all the problems can be solved within physical space if necessary.
Disadvantage is the cost of the software developer itself. In case of limited funds at the beginning (at least for MVP creation) it can be a startup killer. (of course it concerns only those countries where minimum wage for software development is above 50$ per hour).
Part In-House & Off-Shore development.
This solution is actually similar to the last one, but gives opportunity to hire additional, cheaper off-shore developers for a small part of starting budget. In this case the team members or in-house developer can lead the off-shore team or cooperate to develop the project simultaneously.
Advantage of this solution is faster MVP production, and it also saves some part of the budget.
Disadvantage is the difficulty to select good off-shore team members. You have to be very strict about what You need. The best team members would be those who code quality with diverse of skills (stack developers are probably the best at the beginning). They also need to communicate fluently in English, and it would be great if they could work in the same timezone as the founders team.
Full off-shore development.
The perfect solution for startups in the early stage, where budget is a crucial thing. It is also vital for the teams that lack a software development experience. In this case whole development is on the neck of an off-shore team.
Advantage here is that You have a dedicated and affordable team that will take full responsibility for the quality.
Disadvantages are similar to the ones in earlier solutions. Language barriers, imprecise communication rules, unclear principles of team-work and roles definition (who is the product owner, PM, head dev. etc.). Good team should clarify all the factors mentioned above, but also have an experience not only in software development, but also in business development and most of all - in product design. Full stack development + business awareness define the best ones.
Off-shore team selection
The best teams usually carry out workshops with founders to create an adequate description of MVP, which will be the base for further development with timetables and costs calculations - the most crucial thing for the founders and investors. You should call them CTO of Your project or at least a support for your in-house development team. The good team should even provide strategy for future in-house development if necessary.
What a perfect development for the Norwegian (and Swedish, Finish, Dutch etc.) startups should be like?
It needs to be disciplined - check if company has a playbook, guidebook etc. Something that describes how they work - which methodology do they use, how long the sprints are etc.
They need to have experience - it’s obvious – not only with coding, but also project management and cooperation with other experts or product owners.
They need to be able to communicate well and be mobile - choose countries that have easy access to Internet and that are close to you, so the team members can move to Your location if necessary.
As I mentioned at the very beginning Poland is specialized in IT, but the specialization is about quality and innovation and not about quantity or cheap labor. Polish IT higher education is one of the best in the world. Many of the technologies and open source solutions has its Polish roots. Currently, it is said that Poles know three languages: Polish, English and Programming. So what defines development companies from Poland?
- Quality - a lot of experienced teams with wide range of specialization from hardware to software.
- Price - Polish economic is one of the cheapest in Europe - so the development is cheaper.
- Location - Warsaw is one hour flight from Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki etc.
- Timezone - UTC/GMT +1 hour,
- Lack of language barrier - English is our 2nd language.
What defines Polish approach to software development is the difference between things that are said when meeting You for the 1st time:
for most of the other countries it is:
“We have 50/100/400 developers for Your project that can do everything”. ,
Poles start with:
“What's on Your Mind?”