Apart from being in the news for acquiring numerous startups, Marissa Mayer also made headlines last year with her opposition to the work from home policy. The debate about remote working raged all across media. Richard Branson, the entrepreneur who works from Nectar Island, wrote a post on Virgin’s blog –
“The key for me is that in today’s world I do not think it is effective or productive to force your employees one way or another. Choice empowers people and makes for a more content workforce. In 30 years time, as technology moves forward even further, people are going to look back and wonder why offices ever existed.”
Pratham Mittal and Randy Rayess, both graduates from University of Pennsylvania, started VenturePact with the same belief. They are building a marketplace for full-time and vetted remote talent with a vision to enable companies hire the best talent anywhere in the world. VenturePact enables top developers to get discovered by exciting startups around the world for secure and full-time remote employment. The proponents of VenturePact have their base in Philadelphia, though their team is, of course, spread around the world.
Hear it from Pratham and Randy about the why, what and how of VenturePact.
The problem at hand
Every startup’s foremost challenge is talent acquisition. Startups can’t scale their teams nearly as fast as they need to. You may have all the money, but you don’t find the talent to spend it on. This talent gap is huge, especially in the tech hubs of the world. In New York and San Francisco, the problem is with the numbers. There are just not enough engineers. It is a mixture of many factors — not enough engineers are graduating from universities and there isn’t enough stress on analytical skills and mathematics in high and middle school. Restrictive visa policies throw out smart tech people. In places like Bangalore, numbers are not a problem at all. But other factors come into the picture. Most of the students’ first jobs are in large companies where they lose their creativity and coding skills. Everyone in these companies wants to become a manager, so it is hard to find experienced programmers. Quality becomes a constraining factor.
As engineers, we spent a lot of time helping fellow entrepreneurs build products. Over time, as we realized the size of the tech talent problem, we grew more and more passionate about it. When we had de-risked most of the assumptions around the business model, we decided to go ahead full time in October 2012.
We allow companies to hire anywhere in the world, thereby expanding the talent pool available to them. Our marketplace allows companies to hire vetted and full-time remote talent anywhere in the world. We provide access, screening and international payroll management. Startups are starting to go remote but it is very difficult to meet, let alone vet people who are not in your immediate neighborhood. We want to solve the problem by creating this managed marketplace where we exhaustively screen both the talent and the companies and provide an ecosystem of trust and reliability.
The business of making ‘remote’ work
To make life easy for the companies, we manage the legal and payroll issues around international hiring. We take a cut of the monthly salary of the remote employees hired on our platform. We are also evaluating charging a listing fee. Bootstrapped with revenue through some initial consulting projects, we are a team of two co-founders, 22 developers at various levels (and hiring more) and two people for business development.
Fighting the stigma people have against remote work has been difficult. We are looking at any startup/company that has faced a tech talent crunch. We know that the market potential is very large. Our main challenge to scaling is the ability to get many highly talented developers on the platform. To scale up we would need thousands of extremely high quality developers.
Freelance marketplaces are our main competitors. But we are at an edge because they don’t offer full time hiring and they list all contractors and outsourcing companies, many of whom have limited credibility and quality. We want to move beyond the concept of the freelancer and offer a new way for cross border collaboration. We want to empower organizations and talents worldwide by making the world more flat and enabling remote work.