With a little help from my outsourced friends – 6 successful startups that outsourced software development







With a little help from my outsourced friends – 6 successful startups that outsourced software development

Published: 2020/06/18

6 min read

What makes a great startup? An innovative idea, that solves the problems of their customers, topped with perfect execution. As you are reading this maybe you already got the idea and now wonder how to bring it to life or develop it further. Most startups have highly limited resources, and struggle to spend them as efficiently as possible. Here outsourcing software development may come to the aid. Many startups used this kind of cooperation as a way to accelerate their growth on different stages of their development – primarily because of its cost-effectiveness but also due to other outsourcing benefits 

With well-defined needs, you can select an external company that would perfectly fit into your realities and provide what you’re lacking. Below you will find six examples of startups that decided to outsource different parts of their projects, achieved their goals, and became the best of the best in their fields. Keep reading and check which of products you probably use daily have an outsourcing footprint!   

1/ Slack

Slack with its colorful design is now one of the most popular collaboration tools available both in web and mobile app, allowing teams all over the world to communicate and cooperate. I wouldn’t be surprised if during the time you’re reading this post you will get at least one slack notification. So which piece of the puzzle had been added by the outsourced company? Steward Butterfield, Eric Costello, Cal Henderson, and Serguei Mourachov who founded Slack in 2013 decided to delegate the complete design of the famous logo, web, and mobile app and the marketing website of the company to external specialists. These experienced outsourced designers managed to prepare the unique visual identification in just about six weeks!    

2/ WhatsApp

Staying within the field of communication we got two more examples. But in this case, the distance dividing the company and outsourced developers was much bigger than the one between the USA and Canada from the story about Slack. WhatsApp being founded in 2009 by Jon Koun and Brian Acton is probably installed on almost every phone with an internet connection. So, if you won’t receive a notification from Slack, you are likely to have one on WhatsApp ? This messaging client uses the internet to make video or voice calls, sending messages, documents, and many more. It became so popular that in 2014 it was sold to Facebook for 19 billion dollars. Where are the outsourced developers hiding? In 2009 when the company launched the founders decided to cooperate with contractor from Eastern Europe Igor Solomennikov, who was responsible for developing the iOS app. As Igor recall at the time he started developing the WhatsApp, the company consisted of 3 people only. In 2014 he moved to California and became a full-time WhatsApp employee.    

3/ Skype

You’ve reached this part of the article without being interrupted by Slack or WhatsApp? Then maybe something awaits you on third and final online communicator from our list. Skype – the product which name became a synonym for online call also have outsourcing footprint. This company established in 2003 by Swedish and Danish founders was firstly sold to eBay in 2005 and finally in 2011 acquired by Microsoft for 8.5billion USD. Even before the idea for Skype arose, Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis cooperated with Estonian developers over their peer-to-peer file-sharing company called Kazaa. This cooperation led them to wonder if the internet could be used not only to share files but also to make calls, hence “classic” calls between Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Tallinn cost tons of money. They decided to give it a try, overcome complications with investors and together with mentioned Estonian devs Ahti HeinlaPriit Kasesalu and Jaan Tallinn build the product that evolved to what we all either use or have used ?      


With more than 31 million users and 100 million repositories, GitHub is without a doubt a top online code repository. Company founded in 2008 by Tom Preston-Werner, Chris Wanstrath, and PJ Hyett is a great example of software development outsourcing being a perfect solution to fill the gaps in your expert base. Preston-Werner met Scott Chacon on local Ruby on Rails MeetUp. Chacon was one of the best Git experts back then, being at the same time experienced developer, author of one of the first books about Git, and appreciated lecturer – perfect guy for the job that needed to be done. Unfortunately, as a bootstrapped startupGithub founders didn’t have enough resources to hire him full time right away. That’s why they started the cooperation with Chacon being an outsourced contractor for whom Github was one of the projects on the table. As time flew and GitHub started to grow the founders convinced Chacon to join the team which in the end led him to become the CIO of the company.   

5/ Alibaba

The biggest online marketplace established in 1999 in China by Jack Ma now can brag about their success as their revenue for 2019 is said to be around $56.152 billion. Their beginnings are another example of utilizing outsourcing in order to cooperate with specialists that are unavailable in your region. In a book about the company and its founder, Jack Ma reveals that with the aim to appear to a bilingual audience he decided to outsource website development to a foreign company. Working with experienced developers who were also native English speakers allowed Ma to lay the foundations of the multinational business that grow to the success it is today. 

6/ AppSumo

We all love to pay less than more. And that’s the reason why is such a well-known address. This company provides affordable deals for digital tools. Where’s the catch? The quantity of the products is highly limited so you can’t delay the decision. In the AppSumo case, though the outsourced developers’ work wasn’t as demanding as in the previous ones, without a doubt it might be described as crucial. Noah Kagan, who decided to create AppSumo and start this business, managed to create a website on his own but lacked one important thing – the PayPal button with a payment form. Noah decided to outsource this button development to a freelance developer and paid for it 50 dollars. That allowed to finish the work necessary to start AppSumo on a weekend and launch the 8 figure business with about 1 million subscribers with minimal investment.


These six companies are just a few examples of how outsourcing some parts of the work might be exactly what the company needs to move to the next level. Whether it is developing a simple button like in the AppSumo case, designing the whole product, turning your idea into code, launching a spin-off product or scaling up your teams to assure fast product development there is no point in struggling with it on your own if you can be supported by well-seasoned specialists. 


We also got a chance to cooperate with several start-ups, working either on their MVP or following product development. It is a challenging yet rewarding process that requires a combination of technical skills and general work experience that allows to adjust to the rapidly changing start-up environment. If you wonder if outsourcing is the right way to enlarge your team let us know and let’s talk. A short call is not bonding at all and can be a great way to verify if outsourcing is for you and how can it help. Maybe your product would become a new Skype and in a few years, its name would find its place in the dictionary. Or future readers of this article will be interacting with your product while reading? Remember that fortune helps those, who help themselves and consider beefing up your team and product with skills and experience of outsourced IT specialists. 

About the authorSoftware Mind

Software Mind provides companies with autonomous development teams who manage software life cycles from ideation to release and beyond. For over 20 years we’ve been enriching organizations with the talent they need to boost scalability, drive dynamic growth and bring disruptive ideas to life. Our top-notch engineering teams combine ownership with leading technologies, including cloud, AI, data science and embedded software to accelerate digital transformations and boost software delivery. A culture that embraces openness, craves more and acts with respect enables our bold and passionate people to create evolutive solutions that support scale-ups, unicorns and enterprise-level companies around the world. 

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