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How To Scale Your Dev Team For Free In One Easy Step

Table of content:

A Speech Fit For Alex

I was a junior developer. You know, fix a bug here and there, help with the layout, manage some dependencies. In other words, I was a beginner. Imagine my surprise, when on a regular summer morning I've received a call from a guy I've worked with several years ago on a completely unrelated project:

– You up?

– Yes, why?

– Listen, we're starting an incredible project, and I need your skills. It's gonna be a 'yuuuge app and you're gonna be the technical director. You'll find a team for yourself, and we're gonna rent a big office and... and much more!

– Well, sounds good, but-

– No but's! Trust me, you don't want to lose this opportunity! Think till the evening, give me a call and just name your price

And so I did. I pressed the buttons on my calc for the whole day, gave him a call, named him an outrageous price hoping for him to haggle, but to my surprise he just said "Deal" and asked me to send him my data to prepare the contract. Great!

No, none of us were Alex, by the way. We'll get to him in time.

Onboarding the LA way

Now, on my first day of work, something felt off. I can't really put my finger on it but... it felt off. First of all, apparently in "we're launching an app", "we" stands for literally him and his lawyer that worked on a completely unrelated project. But hey, he told me that I'll have to hire a team for myself, did't he?

Good! Where to start? Not on the hiring platforms apparently. After 4 hours of radio silence on my first day of work he barges into the office and says: "You hungry? Let's go eat!". Sounds good! I was, in fact, hungry. And for some reason, instead of the cafeteria where all of the other office workers had their lunch, he took me to the fanciest restaurant in town – not even in the same district. If that's what onboarding is all about – I'm all for it! I already anticipate your question – no, his name wan't Mr. Gray and I'm not writing a fanfic.

What threw me off was that even though he's been telling me that they are going to transfer my prepayment "any day now" for like, 4 days straight already, he did his best to... I don't know, impress me? A fancy Uber, a fancy restaurant, a glass of wine at 1 PM? Really?

Then, actual work started and more questionable details started to surface.

The moment I opened up a hiring platform to fill out the job position, I noticed him pacing back and forth in the corridor talking on the phone:

– Alex, we're starting an incredible project, and I need your skills. It's gonna be a 'yuuuge app and you're gonna be the technical director. You'll find a team for yourself, and we're gonna rent a big office and... and much more! [...] Trust me, you don't want to lose this opportunity! [...] Just leave them – give us a year and we'll be bigger than them! How much do they pay you?

The thought process of Alex

Oookay. That doesn't sound good, at all. He then enters the room and, smiling from ear to ear, says the following: "I've secured a senior dev from Meta". If true, I really don't know what Alex was thinking. He's a incredibly smart guy to be working at Meta – how could he believe that we're gonna be bigger that Meta in what, 1 year? I was prepared not to hear about Alex ever again. Until, you know, he came to our office in a couple of weeks.

Great guy this Alex! It was great to spend time in the office with him – though I can't say much about working, because we haven't actually started doing anything project-related. But let's get back to our first day of "work" with Alex. We tried to become friends in a manner similar to kids in a playground:

– So, uh... what music do you like?

– Um, a bit of everything, and you?

– Me too! What's your favourite colour?

– Yel-

– Guys! You hungry?

Said our extravagant boss barging into the office. Wait a second, I've already seen this somewhere. You guessed it – same Uber, same restaurant, down to the same glass of wine. I was watching the scene play out with... curiosity. Just a reminder, my prepayment was still stuck in the accounting Hell for some reason.

Okay, back to our second onboarding session. Me and Alex went on a short smoke break:

– Did you really leave Meta for this?

– Well, he said that in a year we'll be bigger than them

Then, choosing my words very carefully, I've asked Alex a tactical question:

– Alex, are you stupid?

The prosaic reality of being a little bit stupid

As you might have already guessed, the guy didn't pay us. The project was like a black hole, sucking talented people up and spewing all kinds of "I've already sent the payment, you should receive it any day now" nonsense. Why continue working, you might ask? There comes a point where your thought process goes something like that:

  1. I've already invested time in this project and I don't want it to be for nothing
  2. He will pay me eventually, right? So if I keep on working he will pay me more
  3. How long will it take me to find another project that (potentially) pays me this well?

And the guy knew it! He kept on saying the same bullshit to more people until our team surpassed the 10 devs mark and the "company" somewhat imploded. He then left the country and sent us all a message saying that the project is frozen and he will pay us all in a month. It's been 5 years now.

I mean, he wasn't a bad guy. He had his flaws, like his lack of knowledge about how to manage a tech project, or his unwillingness to secure the project's budget, but he was ultimately a nice guy with a nice idea.

Moral of the story:  don't bite off more than you can chew. And f*cking pay your devs, for God's sake.

Look, I don't hold grudges, this can happen to the best of us: we get overwhelmed by an idea and we just know that it'll work. But sometimes it doesn't. But there's no need to be an asshat – if you're testing a hypothesis and not sure about funding, then just use a pay-as-you-go model, like the one we offer at And don't force the developers to relocate, opt for hiring a remote team of developers instead. This way you'll test your hypothesis quicker and spend much less (the rates for a remote developer are typically 30% less). You can just tell us what you have in mind, and we'll find you the perfect developer for your project in less than 48 hours. You won't even have to take them to a fancy restaurant for onboarding. Drop us a line at

P.S. Another friend who worked with this guy once told be about a phone call with him. He asked him how did he feel having so much debt to so much people. And he answered something along the lines of: "Well, on the upside – everyone wishes me good health!"

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