Hiring a Good Programmer – always a gamble

When I started fuelmyblog, I had no programming skills (some would say still have none!).

None.

If I could change anything in my life it would be to have somehow learned to during my early non-children years.. At my school, nobody had a computer, the Head Master still caned the bad kids and the nearest we had to programming was to write hello on a calculator (try it now, tap in the number 0.7734 and turn the calculator upside down).

So when I bought a script online for $30 to test if my fuelmyblog idea worked, I walked into a whole new world.

After a couple of email exchanges, I received a ZIP file in my emails with the text “script attached”.. Great. a ZIP file with thousands of components..I followed the tiny help file and got this:-

Warning: mysql_select_db(): supplied argument is not a valid MySQL-Link resource in /home/kevind/public_html/header.php on line 12

Warning: mysql_query(): supplied argument is not a valid MySQL-Link resource in /home/kevind/public_html/header.php on line 14
Access denied for user ‘db_user’@’localhost’ (using password: YES)

Meant nothing to me at all..after two days of loading, deleting, loading…the time had come, I needed help and fast!

I seem to remember googling “I need a coder”, I found a site that allowed me to write my request for work and then within minutes, people were haggling over the price to do the job. Not one of them seemed legitimate but in fairness I was at the end of my patience, I needed to see if my idea would work. Eventually a guy called Kanhai Patel from GudApps offered to do it for the best price, shortly after agreeing the fee, he sent me an email that said “The next step is you send us the script and also make an advance payment of USD 45”.

Hmm…would you have?

UPDATE DECEMBER 2009 – Kanhai Patel has scammed me and various others out of money, do not use this guy if you want to see a result for your cash, no idea what happened but after his first job, I used him again, totally took my money and ran. So don’t use Kanhai or Gudapps.  The reason for this update is due to being contacted by others scammed by him and I don’t want to be blamed for recommending him as this post has/did.

What could go wrong, three things. 1. They steal my money, 2. They steal my script and 3. They steal my idea. The final idea scared me most. I had been thinking about starting this idea for three months, to have someone steal the idea was worrying me. Hugely.

I was desperate..

I sent the upfront “sweetener” and we connected via Skype, Kanhai in India, me in France…one of those take a deep breath and slowly exhale moments.

It turned out to be probably the smartest move I ever made. Kanhai is a classy coder, quick and dedicated beyond belief. We talked as he coded until I passed out at 4am..I rose up again the next day at 7am, there he was, still coding. Eventually after 48 hours, Fuelmyblog, the test site was born, it had cost me 4 days without sleep or seeing anyone and just $300. I have kept in touch with Kanhai since and would recommend this guy to anyone.

Anyone who tells you they need $millions to see if a site works is a liar, you need energy, no sleep and of course living costs. The days, weeks and months after are the only major losses, and the cost of that is time.

If you are prepared to work 18-22 hours per day every day 7 days a week, you might have a chance, I had some money saved in the bank and was willing to gamble every penny of it. Was I crazy?

Up next meeting Ian Green..virtually.

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4 thoughts on “Hiring a Good Programmer – always a gamble”

  1. Oh Kevin I think time has proven that you were not crazy. In fact, I would rather refer to the word genuis. Oh yes in reality I am taking this day off…so I really wasn’t here.

    But Fuel My blog is a wonderful spot Kevin and also my favorite place. And I love the addition of the new widgets. Fabulous move there.

  2. Hiring good developers (especially offshore) is hard. Most offshore firms are little more than ‘software sweatshops’ that over promise and under-deliver.

    I own a Chicago-based offshore development firm and we started finding clients on Elance. The problem we ran into was the ‘Elance mentality’ where buyers act like they’re at the flea market. We realized very quickly that we’re not for everyone and that we only work with clients that demand high quality and are willing to pay for it. It’s been phenomenal for us because we deal with clients that expect top notch work.

    Finding good offshore developers isn’t hard, but finding people who are committed and reliable is next to impossible.

    Outsourcing can not be transactional… the offshore team has to be a part of your team. That way they actually understand you and are committed to you. Big companies set up captive development centers that serve the same purpose. Startups can’t do that, so the trick is to find a mature an d reliable team that will become a part of you. The real benefit is nurturing a team that’s an extension of you.

    Outsourcing is about high value, not low cost.

    Raza Imam
    http://BoycottSoftwareSweatshops.com

  3. Hey Raza,

    Good to see you on here. I totally agree with you, it is like a flea market, totally, I’d rather see a site where you can actually talk with people face to face (Via skype) and actually build a relationship. Kanhai, mentioned in my post, worked for himself. I would be interested in talking further with you if you get a minute, drop me a mail info [at] fuelmyblog.com

    Kevin

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