Elance is dying, here’s why

In late 2012, I started freelancing. Because I don’t like commutes and offices, I decided to work from home and was pointed to Elance. After signing up I got hired to help a startup turn the herd of remote cats they hired into a team. I succeeded in a couple of weeks to make the team behave like a team, and we started pushing out weekly increments. Then, the client ran out of money. The whole point was to pay the bills so we decided something needed to change, and after some introspection, the team decided that the essential problem was that we didn’t have a paying customer. Working together as a team was fun, we didn’t want to stop. That’s when the first StarterSquad team got born, and I started to do sales. I looked back at elance and its competitors a couple of times, but never used it seriously again, here’s why.

Why do we need an Elance alternative?

40% of freelance work is paid late, or not at all. This tells us two things: people are opportunistic and expectations are not managed well. The way Elance solves this is through an escrow service and a tool that records screenshots of the freelancer working. The premise of mistrust is mitigated by two band-aid solutions. If your job requires a team of freelancers, you’re in for a ride. Each of the freelancers will be positioned as a competitor of the others. This way, clients are forced to find the right people through trial and error, either wasting their money, or being bad clients to some. Freelancers are forced to have their good clients compensate the losses of the bad ones. This isn’t fair to either party; it breeds more mistrust and stands in the way of productivity.

After my experiences with Elance I decided to do things differently. The result is best summarized best by one of our clients, BridalLive, who have, by the way, the best bridal shop software in the world.

I’ve been outsourcing for about 6 years with mixed results.

I’ve been working with StarterSquad for the past 18 months and couldn’t be happier.

I like most that they have experts in a variety of different areas (i.e. designers, developers, dev ops, and digital marketing).

What I hate about oDesk is that it is full of amateurs and you burn a lot of cycles evaluating someone’s true skill set. Then after all that time spent, someone will flake out and you have to go through that same process again and again. It makes for shitty code – shitty product. Our desktop software product suffered from this.

That is not the case with StarterSquad. Everyone that I have worked with is an expert and better than any front end developer I’ve worked with. I think they do a great job of evaluating/training their developers. Also, I feel much more secure that they won’t disappear because over the past 18 months, I’ve seen them grow as a company.

During launch week, the dev team is frequently underused as we wrap up QA and prepare the code for deployment. When that happens, I just book less capacity for that week and they work on another client’s project.

What you can see happened there is that having a team that delivers a full service takes away the competition within the team, and allows the client to focus on the product instead of managing the internals of the team.

Vandebron.nl another one of our clients was a lot less hands on. After helping them convince their investors, we built the entire product for them and then recruited their CTO. Doing something like this is simply impossible with Elance, but with the multidisciplinary teams of StarterSquad it is even easy.

Long story short, I believe that the Elance model is not suited for teamwork, while most business problems require a team to solve them. This is why the StarterSquad model, now automated with Capacitor will work much better. The Elance-oDesk remote era is over.

Give it a go and sign up for Capacitor now to sample our community.

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