How to Hire Developers for a Startup: Hiring Models, Required Talents, Hiring Process, and Costs

How to Hire Developers for a Startup - ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft offers professional software development for startups since 1989.

How to Hire a Developer for a Startup: A Summary

Hiring models

Possible hiring models: in-house employment, team augmentation, dedicated team.


Costs: depending on the hiring model.

Key steps

Key steps of the hiring process: defining requirements for candidates, screening & interviewing, hiring, onboarding, team building, scaling a team.


Talents usually required for a startup: software architect, UX/UI designer, front-end developer, back-end developer, QA engineer.

Hiring Models

One of the key steps in hiring software developers is choosing the right model. The models differ in costs as well as in the way employment and management responsibilities are distributed.

In-house employment

You provide long-term employment to a team of developers, fully take care of their onboarding and training, and make sure that each of them has necessary hardware and software to perform their job (either in your office or remotely).

  • Employment and related legal paperwork responsibility – your company.
  • Management – your PM or a team lead.
  • Payment developers’ salaries, which include payroll taxes and sick leave payments.

Caution: You can build a cohesive and devoted team with this hiring option, but the process may be too costly and time-consuming and cause serious delays in project time-to-market, which is critical for a startup.


You partner up with either freelancing programmers or an IT company that lends you its resources under a team augmentation or a dedicated team arrangement.

Caution: Cooperation with freelancers can’t ensure risk mitigation in data confidentiality, adherence to schedule, and software quality. Hence, this type of outsourcing can’t be considered startup-friendly.

Among startup-friendly outsourcing options, you can choose between team augmentation and a dedicated team.

Team augmentation

You have one or several developers from a staffing vendor with a large pool of IT experts to join your existing in-house team temporarily.

  • Employment and related legal paperwork responsibility – vendor.
  • Management – your PM or team lead.
  • PaymentT&M (according to developers’ hourly rates).

Best for: Established startup teams that prioritize fast time to market and face a tight deadline; startups that experience skill gaps or enter a software evolution stage and need to scale up their team.

Dedicated team

You have a self-managed development team from a staffing vendor to work on your project (or its part) while complying with all your tech, business, and management requirements.

  • Employment and related legal paperwork responsibility – vendor.
  • Management – vendor.
  • Payment T&M (according to developers’ hourly rates).

Best for: Idea-driven startup initiatives with no in-house development team yet; startups who have a number of products in development and whose in-house team’s efforts have to be focused on a top-priority product.

If you are still don’t know which model to choose, feel free to consult our article on in-house and outsourcing pros and cons.

Talents Your Startup Needs to Develop Software

Your team’s composition is usually defined by the scale and type of software your startup creates – a web app, a mobile app, SaaS/XaaS, etc. Below, we give a list of common developer roles for a startup with a mid-scale software project of any type.

Software architect

  • Plans out a software architecture.
  • Oversees architecture compliance with the project requirements.
  • Configures the cloud infrastructure (for a SaaS startup).

UX/UI designer

  • Plans out a visual representation of your software’s functionality.
  • Ensures intuitive user-software interaction.
  • Prepares visual assets for a front-end developer.
  • Implements UI design mockups.
  • Delivers code of the client-side scripts using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript languages (for web apps) or Objective-C/Swift, Java/Kotlin, C# (for iOS & Android apps).

Back-end developer

  • Delivers code of the server-side scripts using .NET, Python, Java, Node.js, PHP, or Go languages.
  • Sets up databases.
  • Performs API integrations.

PM/Team Lead

  • Plans out development schedule and distributes tasks.
  • Overviews the team’s productivity.
  • Communicates with all project stakeholders.

QA engineer

  • Creates and runs different types of tests based on software requirements.
  • Logs testing results.
  • Verifies software compliance with the initially established quality standards.

How to Hire Developers for a Startup: Tips for Each Process Step

1. Defining requirements for candidates

ScienceSoft’s first tip on how to find developers for a startup is to make sure you understand who you are looking for. Your requirements to future candidates should describe both the work approach you expect (proactivity, leadership, time-management, etc.) and technical competencies based on your software’s technical stack from a software requirements specification (SRS).

Your SRS is Yet to be Created?

Let ScienceSoft’s startup consultants and experienced PMs handle it! Equipped with the knowledge of 30+ industries, they will translate your software idea into features and suggest the best-fit technology stack for it. On your demand, we can provide talents skilled in the chosen tech stack, too.

2. Screening and interviewing

The table below shows the scope of your screening and interviewing responsibilities for both in-house and outsourcing hiring models.

Note: In case of team augmentation and dedicated team arrangements, your first step is to find an outsourcing vendor you trust and partner up by signing a Service Level Agreement.

In-house hiring

Team augmentation

Dedicated team

Screening and high-level interviewing

Technical interview

Note: The technical interview should test a candidate’s theoretical understanding of the development technology, strategic approach to coding practices, and practical experience in development (best to verify with a technical task).

3. Hiring

In case of in-house hiring, you’ll need to allocate a significant amount of HR and legal efforts to enroll each developer you decide to take on board.

Vendor cooperation is based on a Service Level Agreement, which stipulates that the vendor remains the legal employer of all developers while you leverage their skills in your project. In other words, SLA is the only major paper you need to take care of regardless of how many talents you will need to join your team in the long run.

Note: You need to set up vendor management processes to ensure successful vendor cooperation. These processes usually aim to control track vendor KPIs and oversee the adherence of hired developers to the schedule. Vendors who ensure transparent collaboration can facilitate your vendor management efforts by giving you access to their internal reporting tools.

4. Onboarding

For startups, in-house onboarding includes instilling company values and sharing motivations behind the software idea in new hires. It implies significant newcomer training efforts that can come at a high cost for the productivity of your in-house resources.

Cooperation with a vendor - even with an offshore one - is a sure way to speed up onboarding as a vendor’s developer pool consists of experts for whom quick adjustment to new requirements and onboarding in 1-2 weeks are parts of the job description. Regular communication between your startup and a vendor’s developers will streamline your collaboration from the get-go and accelerate the ramp-up even further.

5. Building a team

To build a real team, you need to teach developers to feel and show respect for each other’s skills and duties, communicate in a friendly manner in any situation, and be always ready to request and provide help. In in-house employment, it is usually achieved with the help of long-term HR training or during a small, carefully managed test project.

However, spending so much time and effort on training can be considered a luxury for most startups. A dedicated team cooperation model may be a good alternative since it allows you to enjoy the results of cohesive teamwork without investing in team-building and fully entrusting it to a vendor instead.

6. Scaling a team for software evolution

After an MVP release to the market, you can face new challenging needs during software evolution: implementation of advanced features (e.g., AI, blockchain, AR), CI/CD setup, continuous software maintenance and support, etc. For an in-house team, this implies a number of new roles and a months-long wait for the recruiters to fill the openings with the fitting candidates, which can hold back your software growth.

With outsourced cooperation, your needs can be addressed within a few days after signing a ‘team scale up’ addendum to the SLA. After you share a list of resources required for your software evolution, you get access to the vendor’s pool of experts in cutting-edge tech, DevOps, L1-L3 support, or other fields and can welcome new necessary talents in your augmented or dedicated team in 1-2 days.

Want to Launch Your Startup Project with a Vendor?

ScienceSoft offers staff augmentation and dedicated team services with fast onboarding and quick project launch in just 1-2 weeks.

Costs of Hiring Software Developers for a Startup

Hiring costs depend on multiple factors:

In-house hiring

Team augmentation

Dedicated team

Cost structure



Services reimbursement

Consider ScienceSoft as Your Outsourcing Partner

With over 32 years in outsourced software development and cooperation with startups, ScienceSoft offers reliable team augmentation and dedicated team services.

Team Augmentation

Hire experienced talent to speed up time to market, get rid of skill deficiency, or scale your team after MVP launch. We offer:

  • Onboarding within 1 week.
  • Fast and easy team scale up and down (<1 week).
  • Assistance in designing various architectures (mircoservices, headless, PWA, etc).
  • CI/CD automation and the IaaC approach.
  • Assistance in implementing advanced features (AI, IoT, blockchain, AR, VR, etc.)
  • L1-L3 support and maintenance services.
See Our Offer

Dedicated Team

Hire a self-managed team of skilled tech experts to work on your project or its part. We offer:

  • Collaboration launch in 1-2 weeks.
  • Software concept analysis by our business analysts with 5-9 years of experience.
  • Services of conversion-driven UX/UI designers.
  • Agile software development and iterative software evolution.
  • Result-oriented management by a full-scale Project Management Office.
  • Transparency in cooperation and use of proven KPI metrics.
See Our Offer
About ScienceSoft

About ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft is an IT consultancy and software development company headquartered in McKinney, Texas. We offer software development team augmentation and dedicated development team outsourcing to startups, assisting them in faster software launch and scaled support & evolution. Being ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certified, we ensure adherence to the required quality and data security standards.