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10 Hours Per Week: How Fractional Hiring Boosts Productivity

“There are certain highly skilled roles that no company will ever need 40 hours of each week.” --Insight, YC W19
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It wasn’t until they went through Y Combinator in 2019 that the Insight team took the time to formalize their roles as founders. They’ve always prided themselves on being uniquely scrappy, or ‘uniquely Insight’-- keeping things flexible and staying light on their feet, embracing both traditional and non-traditional practices. Their team is “a really wonderful mixed bag”, as co-founder Archa describes it, of remote full time and flex time talent.

Rather than focusing on a potential hire’s location or work schedule, Archa maintains that “a level of being serious about your work and being devoted is the biggest delta.” And finding devoted, serious collaborators is absolutely essential when you’re a startup taking on a massive incumbent. 

Insight is building a web browser and extension that helps users discover smarter, more authoritative answers as they’re searching the internet. The team started with a focus on building a search engine for medical information and is now expanding into other domains.

Insight began adding to their team with developers on Turtle for just 10 hours per week. They started to scale their platform beyond just the medical community, creating dedicated search engines for a wide range of specialized fields. 

The whole team came together recently to focus on scaling the current product in a two week sprint “with an absolutely impossible number of tasks.” Both Filipe and Felipe, developers hired through who typically work about 10 hours per week with the Insight team, were there for each step of the sprint as well. 

The results were impressive: “I haven’t seen a team pull off nearly as many tasks ever,” said Archa, “We needed the whole team to be all hands on deck, constantly trying to break it and find bugs. We saw that from every single member of the team– and the first set of users we rolled it out to didn’t see any bugs at all.”

Beyond working with Turtle developers with flexible weekly hours, the Insight team has extended that hiring construct to other remote freelance needs as well, from motion graphic design to web scraping. 

“This kind of piecemeal approach is extremely efficient as a young team. Sometimes we don’t know exactly what the next step is. Sometimes there are waiting cycles. And there are certain highly skilled roles that no small company will ever need 40 hours of each week,” said Archa. 

It’s a dramatic departure from both the hiring and product development process typical of Silicon Valley. 

“You can tell when a product team is making up work, really manufacturing work so people aren’t sitting idle while waiting in a development cycle. In an hourly cycle like with Turtle, what gets done is what gets billed,” shared Archa. 

Part of the success of this approach is their focus on integrating Turtle developers and any other flex workers fully: Treating them like their own internal team and getting to know them as people.

Archa added, “Since our whole team is remote by design, they don’t feel separate in any way, and Insight can stay highly efficient.” 

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