Helping startups get the coding base right
By Benjamin Cher December 31, 2015
- Codesurance helps non-technical founders draft coding document
- Connects them to experienced solution architects and development houses
ONE of the biggest hurdles for any startup is getting its product up and running, and with many founders hailing from a non-technical background, the problem is compounded by the shortage of technical talent.
While outsourcing software development to coding houses might be the answer, startups still need to come up with their own coding document that lists down the requirements – and that’s hard to do if you don’t rightly understand what technology can or cannot do.
This is where Codesurance hopes to step in, by connecting non-technical founders with technical mentors.
The startup, spawned from a previous platform called Inderr, matchmakes startups with angel investors and mentors, according to cofounder Jayren Teo.
“We found that in terms of mentorship, the most important thing that startups need is technical mentorship – and that’s how we thought of Codesurance,” he told Digital News Asia in Singapore.
“There’s a lack of technical developers in Singapore, and founders try outsourcing a lot, but they are still unable to find the right person to outsource to,” he added.
Founders are forced to spend a lot of time and money on this, which can be detrimental to the health of the startup, according to Teo, citing interviews that Codesurance conducted with founders over the last three months.
From idea to code
The entire process starts with startups which can express an interest in Codesurance by filling up a simple form.
“We will reach out to the relevant solution architects in the relevant areas or industries, and organise a first meeting to set expectations,” Teo said.
“They get to know what they actually want, as startups often have very broad ideas of what their app should do,” he added.
Codesurance’s solution architects are experienced developers “with at least five years of development work and a portfolio,” according to Teo. They are able to choose an area to focus on and are not required to be all-rounders.
“This is where we come in to help streamline the app with the core functions, and make it good for customers,” he said.
These solution architects then plan out the architecture for the solution, making it more scalable.
Startups often have big plans, but they need to start out with the small functions first before they can start expanding, Teo argued, adding that choosing the right coding language and platform will help when they need to expand.
The first draft of the technical documentation would be prepared, along with suggestions by the solution architect – who would have seen a few apps and might have a few pointers, according to Teo.
All the startup has to do then is just present the documentation to a third-party developer or development house for them to start developing the app.
Codesurance also works with MomoCentral, a platform that links developers and designers all over the world to startups, according to Teo, with a key factor being able to converse in English.
“Communications is key – most development work fails due to communications,” he said.
Pivoting and delivering
Startups often pivot, wasting many months of development – hence the importance of the first meeting between the startup and the solution architect, according to Teo.
“That’s why we set expectations and streamline the functions at the first meeting. Over time, startups might start pivoting, but their core function is what drives them and is what they are passionate about,” he said.
Startups also have to recognise that it is not about their app having tons of features.
“It’s not really about whether it is cheap but about your brand value – and also more on when people think about your startup, what comes to mind first,” Teo said.
Plans and funding
Codesurance is looking to raise S$25,000 (US$17,600) by next June, but for the next six months, it will be focused on getting more startups and solution architects on board.
“We are already working with a few organisations like Startup Grind Singapore, IBM and Alpha Camp for our solution architects,” Teo said.
“These organisations are quite established, so startups don’t have to worry about their credibility,” he added.
Outsourcing to a freelancer might mean startups get developers who might not understand what they want, Teo argued.
“Developers … want people to tell them what to do to code it out – they don’t want to think about the process,” he claimed.
“For example, one of our customers pretty much had its app all done, but forgot to include a ‘forget password’ button in the documentation, and the developers – despite their experience – just followed the document without mentioning that they forgot the button,” he added.
One startup has already jumped on board, with up to three more possibly deciding to use Codesurance, according to Teo.
“They are still in the midst of talking to the solution architects, and we are still coordinating the process,” he said, declining to name any of the customers.
Currently, Codesurance charges startups hourly rates to talk to their solution architects, taking a 5-10% cut, according to Teo.
“The market rate now is between S$20 (US$14) and S$60 (US$42) per hour for a solution architect to sit down for a consultation to prepare the technical specs,” he said.
“If startups go through the Alpha Camp programme, it will be S$499 (US$352), with S$400 (US$282) going to the developer and S$99 (US$70) going to us to sit with them.
“For founders who are unable to pay cash, we might look for solutions architects who are willing to take equity – we will get about one-eighth of what they are getting,” he added.
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