Familiar Waters – A new freelance network website will be launched for Central European IT talent

Sometimes the stars align: there’s a new, special demand on the market, a company is researching for a proactive solution to a productivity problem, and suddenly, thousands of coders get a new opportunity for overcoming one of their own weaknesses. Hungarian startup Let’s Nearshore brings freelance developers and international projects together, on a cleaned and simple online platform, disrupting the old methods of finding IT talent, which involves recruiter companies, informal networks, and a whole lot of uncertainty.

Interview with Dániel Szalai az Péter Orbán, founders of Let’s Nearshore.

As often the case with startups, Let’s Nearshore is based on a need of its own founders, Dániel Szalai and Péter Orbán, who already had a successful business up and running, developing database software for companies.They were always on the lookout for good projects, to make use of the free capacities of their developers. Simply put, they wanted good partnerships for their crew. Reaching out to Western markets from Switzerland to the UK, they collaborated with recruiters in the hopes of landing onsite contracts. At this time, the IT professionals would have moved to the location of the clients to work on their projects.

Dániel says the local IT job market is a bit stuck at the moment:

The Hungarian market is saturated, and mostly based on familiarity, you can’t really get to new clients if you don’t know someone there, whilst payments are not rising with the global trends. So looking for Western partners was a logical step for us. We realized that there is huge demand for skilled IT professionals in the UK. Actually we were already on the brink of signing the perfect deal, when Brexit hit.Dániel Szalai

The founders explored opportunities in other countries as well, without much success. As Péter recalls, they recognized a certain pattern in the IT job market:

If we aren’t knocking on the door in exactly the moment they fire a bunch of developers, we usually can’t even get one foot in. What are the chances? We’ve had to try something else. We wanted to give the clients themselves a chance to reach out right when the need for new professionals arises. It’s impossible to find this moment from the outside, yet, it would be greatly useful for them if they had a pool of IT talent that is always readily available and very dependable. We wanted to give the clients the chance to choose. Like a cake, that is always there to get a slice from.Péter Orbán
What is nearshoring?
Like offshore, it’s about shipping your production out, but instead of taking it to far-away, exotic locations, you stay closer to home – in neighbouring, or nearby countries. This is a new trend in IT business, emerging for these reasons:
– similar culture and work ethic
– no timezone difference
– easy to travel to the site if needed
– highly educated workforce
– lower risk of hidden costs and unforeseen circumstances

The founders knew the problem well: they themselves were also in the need of new people many times before. And they were not happy. According to Dániel, the whole process seemed unreasonably slow and redundant:

There are these multiple rounds of talks with the recruiters, specifying our needs, from which you can clearly feel that they don’t know our scene that much. They want to do the best job possible, of course, showing the best talent for us, but in the process they might filter out people for trivial reasons, people who might have been just the right fit for us. And we won’t ever know they even existed. There were occasions when it took 6 weeks for us to sit down with a professional to even start talking about the project, and if there is no agreement, we need to start again from zero. It’s not uncommon in this business that when the right candidate would finally start working, the project is already canceled. Or quite the opposite: when the client decides to hire the guy, they might be already gone to a different project.Dániel Szalai
The Situation - What are the circumstances bringing Let’s Nearshore to life?
– the Hungarian IT market is too rigid
– pay rise is losing momentum
– big demand for English-speaking, dependable IT professionals on the West
– Hungarians seem to be able to deliver according to all expectations
– traditional recruiting is not working efficiently enough in IT

We really cut to the chase with this service, because here the client registers and they can choose who they want to work with from our online pool, based on their own needs. They don’t need to tell us about the project or the conditions – they can discuss that directly with the professionals. We offer a platform for that. So, they can find the right developer in a matter of days. That’s a different ballpark from the six week long processes we had to endure. That can happen because no one knows your needs better than you. This makes the process simpler for clients and way more pleasant for the professionals, because they don’t have to market themselves and pitch for opportunities, and they are not competing with Asian payment requirements. Many freelance developers are tired of the clumsiness, the hassle, the instability of online work networks. These networks, in a lot of cases, are not much help for the clients either, because they, again, need a recruiter to browse and filter through the 200 or more applicants to their projects, so here they are, going full circle again.Péter Orbán
In general you can say that 90% of developers are not very good at personal branding.” adds Dániel.  “Most of them could be happy with a system where the clients approach them with projects, offering very competitive pay in a Hungarian context, with the chance to secure international reference projects. We also provide a bonus for every successfully completed project.Dániel Szalai

The founders are pretty confident about Hungarian developers finding international success, because their experience is that Western feedback about them is usually very good. Dániel highlights what might give them an edge:

Hungarians have a problem-solving mentality. They never despair if things look shaky. Not only they’ve got the skills, through their years they have already encountered lots of interesting situations and challenges which they had to solve. This, it seems, is a very valuable experience in Western European IT environments.Dániel Szalai

Let’s Nearshore launches in early 2019, but professionals can already register into the network.