THE THOUGHTFUL ENTREPRENEUR PODCAST
Outforce was conceived from Sean's frustrations with the outsourcing landscape. The challenge of sifting through the noise to find qualified software engineers was a time-consuming and often costly endeavor. Sean's mission with Outforce was clear: streamline hiring the right expertise efficiently and effectively.
Hiring and staffing engineers is notoriously slow and challenging, particularly in the tech sector. The high demand for skilled professionals and the limited availability create a bottleneck for businesses looking to scale.
Outsourcing can be a game-changer, offering a faster route to assembling a team. However, it's crucial to find engineers with the technical skills and domain expertise to match your project's needs.
Sean, a seasoned tech founder, understands the risks involved in hiring. The cost of bringing on someone who isn't the right fit can be significant. He stresses the importance of effective interviewing and a deep understanding of the technical requirements and domain knowledge necessary for the role.
Key Points from the Episode:
- Challenges in outsourcing software engineering
- Importance of finding the right expertise in a time-sensitive manner
- Risks and challenges of hiring engineers
- Outsforce's platform and approach to matching companies with engineering teams
- Pricing model and negotiation leverage of Outforce
- Defining scope and executing projects effectively
- Importance of dynamic interaction between engineering, sales, and customer success teams
About Sean Languedoc:
Sean Languedoc boasts over 25 years of experience in the tech industry, currently serving as the CEO of Outforce.ai (formerly Global Talent Accelerator). Throughout his entrepreneurial journey, Sean has excelled in transforming outsourcing from a daunting task into a strategic asset for venture-backed companies.
At the core of Outforce.ai is the mission to simplify the outsourcing process, turning it into a direct path for achieving goals. Sean fosters collaborations that swiftly transition from onboarding to project execution, reducing lead times for tech ventures.
In addition to his leadership at Outforce.ai, Sean remains actively involved in the startup ecosystem as a mentor, guiding emerging entrepreneurs and contributing to the growth of the tech innovation landscape.
Sean's commitment extends to serving on the boards of A100 and as a Charter Member at C100, emphasizing his dedication to advancing tech innovation and entrepreneurship in Canada and beyond.
Outforce, a pioneering venture in outsourcing solutions, simplifies the complex process of sourcing and scaling engineering teams for venture-backed companies. With a focus on safety and efficiency, Outforce navigates the intricate outsourcing landscape by thoroughly vetting thousands of engineering agencies.
The platform employs a swift and comprehensive approach, filtering and assessing teams based on essential criteria such as culture fit, domain expertise, and technical proficiency.
By seamlessly matching companies with the most suitable teams, Outforce transforms the outsourcing experience from a bewildering maze into a streamlined path to mission accomplishment.
This innovative solution enhances team onboarding speed and ensures a strategic alignment that propels venture-backed enterprises toward their growth objectives.
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Links Mentioned in this Episode:
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Josh (00:00:05) - A thoughtful listener before we get going. Did you know that my company up My influence.com has launched more than 200 business podcasts. The host of our shows are amazing leaders and collaborators. Folks I want to connect you with. Maybe you deserve your moment in the spotlight as a guest of one of these amazing shows. Just go to up my influence.com, where you can see more than 50 shows that are actively seeking business leader guests like you to celebrate right now in front of their high caliber audiences. Just click on the podcast tab and up my influence.com, where you'll see shows like the Optics in Action podcast hosted by the visionary Ryan Weiss, president of EPS. This daily podcast is a treasure trove of insights for anyone in the manufacturing and construction world. Are you a business leader or innovator in these industries? Then Optics in Action is your go to source for stories that inspire and strategies that really work. Ryan and his guests dive deep into the journeys of successful founders, uncovering the secrets to scaling up in today's fast paced business environment.
Josh (00:01:23) - But that's not all. If you are at the helm of a thriving company, Optics in Action is actively seeking guests like you in those industries, leaders who are shaping the future of manufacturing and construction. Share your story, your challenges, and your triumphs with a senior leadership level audience who are eager to learn from your experience. Don't miss this chance to be a part of a community of visionaries. Visit up my Influence Comm, click on the podcast tab and look for optics in action. Whether you're tuning in as a listener or stepping up as a guest, join us in driving the conversation forward. In the world of manufacturing and construction. Your voice matters and we can't wait to amplify it. With us right now it's Sean. Sean, you are the founder and CEO of outsource. Your found on the web at Out force dot I. Shawn, it's great to have you.
Sean (00:02:27) - Thank you for having me. Josh. I really appreciate it.
Josh (00:02:29) - Yeah, absolutely. I'd love to learn a bit about what out force does.
Sean (00:02:35) - It's the product of having built for tech companies and actually suffering from all the noise in the outsourcing world. You know, when you're looking to hire a software engineer, a good one, all the good ones are obviously employed. And sometimes you need to do a big push to get something ready for a conference or a big client that needs something specialized done. Whatever the reasons you want to do it, it's usually a time sensitive requirement with expertise needed. And if you ask any outsourcing agency, they'll all tell you they can do it. But only a few are really good at what they're what you want to do, so they're hard to find. So it's kind of like you go from a desert of engineering capacity when you're looking to hire them to water everywhere and not a drop to drink. So rather than what I wasted a lot of time talking to engineering companies that were a waste of time. And the worst thing you could do is waste your time spending money on those people. Yeah. So I really just wanted to build a filter so nobody wastes their time talking to engineering companies that are a waste of time and get matched way faster, way quicker, and get their products built with the right teams.
Josh (00:03:45) - For someone that hasn't hired or staffed out, you know, engineers. Can you explain, like what the typical process usually looks like and why it can be problematic? You know, certainly the risky.
Sean (00:04:00) - Yeah, and it totally is. So I mean, hiring your own engineers is usually really done well, slowly. And it has to be done slowly because there's just not that many good people available. Even with the layoffs, they're still only a 1.7% unemployment rate in engineering for software for in tech sector. And, you know, uh, there's still 350,000 tech jobs available in the market even with all those layoffs. So don't kid yourself. It's a tight market and it's tight worldwide because everyone's discovered other markets where to find those good engineers. So that's a slow process. And you know, if your typical hiring process would be, you know, you find a senior engineer who then helps with his or her network to find other engineers. And, you know, three months to find the first one, a couple more months to find the second and third to get a cross-functional team of about seven people takes between 9 and 12 months between onboarding and hiring.
Sean (00:04:59) - So outsourcing offers that opportunity to accelerate that to, you know, getting 5 or 7 people in a couple of weeks. Yeah, takes months to figure out who's good. Right. So and it and it is your baby. I mean, assuming you've built something already, you know you're you know you built it and now you're growing it. And maybe you got a big cheque from a venture capital company or, or like I said, a big enterprise customer that wants to build a new front end, or you need APIs to connect to other channel partners, whatever it is, this is your baby and you don't want, you know, you don't take your baby to just any old daycare. You want to know who's good, right? So your first motion is generally to talk to friends. So, Josh, do you know anybody who's good and Josh oh, sure.
Josh (00:05:42) - Yeah. But I don't know that they're the best for you.
Sean (00:05:44) - That's right. So you might. And if you know somebody is good they're generally booked out because good engineers like I said are booked out.
Sean (00:05:51) - Um, or they might be in a completely different tech. So domain expertise. Right. So you might know media experts but I might be in fintech or health tech or a marketplace need. And so I want people who understand the business logic. Right. So that's first criteria is domain expertise. And then the second criteria is technical expertise. Do they understand the tech stack. So that all reduces your onboarding process. And the problem is with the current motions is and everybody does it, you sort of go to your friends who you know has a good experience. Like I said, they get booked out. Then you go online. Now you're subject to people who are really good at SEO and SEM, like on online marketing. And then you speak to the leaders of the organization or the salesperson, and they'll tell you everything you want to hear. Right. And then they'll try and find whoever they can to fill it in. And that can be, like I said, a big waste of time. So we do a bottom up approach to filtering, you know.
Josh (00:06:49) - And I don't know that every founder of a tech company is necessarily super techie themselves. Right. And so there's always two there's this challenge that, you know, a founder of visionary may come in, say, hey, listen, I've got this great idea, but, you know, it's not as it can be challenging to make sure that you're hiring the right folks. But then the ongoing operation and I've just, you know, I know from my own experience I had to learn through the school of hard knocks. Shawn, you've been with a five time tech founder. Now, I'm sure that by the fifth go around, there is a lot of wisdom that you had gained that you didn't have in that first go around.
Speaker 3 (00:07:32) - Oh, yeah.
Sean (00:07:32) - I got the scars to prove it. No, no, definitely. And even hiring, like outsourcing is a risky business. Hiring is a risky business. You know, you got a 50% chance it's not going to work out. There's anyone who's really good at technology.
Sean (00:07:45) - A lot of people are really good at technology, are not really great at interviewing. So if you're not in technology and you don't know how to interview, guess what happens? You end up hiring people who you think you're going to like, who are good in technology, but they might not be as skilled as you want. So anything can happen like that. Yeah, it's totally fraught with problems.
Speaker 4 (00:08:05) - Yeah.
Josh (00:08:06) - And so can you kind of explain how the outsource platform works and kind of where it fits in?
Speaker 3 (00:08:14) - Yeah, yeah.
Sean (00:08:15) - So I mean, like I said, the emotions you can do, you can. And again, the third motion besides online looking is to pick a country right. Poland, Eastern Europe, generally known for good engineers or India generally has a reputation for less expensive but obviously timezone constraints. So we say don't pick a geography, pick the industry expertise, then pick the tech stack depth, and then figure out geography where you really want to know who the best engineers and where are, and and then figure out if where they are, are they available and are they at the right price and go from there.
Sean (00:08:54) - So um, so we take a bottom approach, as I said, that most people ask, like if I came to you and said, Josh, you got an engineering firm, hey, I'm building a fintech application. We need a payment rails for visa or whatever. Can you build it? Well, Josh, you're in sales. You're going to go, yeah, of course I can. And then you go find somebody to do it. Just picking the hiring requirements down the road a bit. What we do is we go to companies and we say, hey, we represent North American companies that are looking for engineering capacity. If we brought you the perfect client, what business would have been? And they go, oh, marketplaces, what kind of marketplace? B2B, B2C, fashion, logistics. You know, these are very different kinds of business logics. So we get down that down that well. And then out of thousands of companies, there's literally you know, there's probably 200,000 companies out there.
Sean (00:09:49) - We have about 80,000 in our database. We narrowed down to about 50 that are really well suited on paper. And then out of those 50, we nail it down to who's the best teams that are available for our client based on their resumes. And so we're doing it a bottom up as opposed to a top down. We're looking at the actual people that are available at the time our clients are asking. That makes a big difference.
Speaker 4 (00:10:13) - Yeah.
Josh (00:10:13) - And Sean, tell me about, you know, outsource I the company itself and and kind of who you brought together and you know because obviously I had a lot of back end stuff to develop just for this.
Sean (00:10:25) - Yeah. No, I can.
Josh (00:10:26) - Imagine like who the, the engineers that you hire and you explain. All right. So here's what you're going to be building. It's a little meta.
Sean (00:10:33) - Well it's actually a really at this point very much a services company. It's very high touch, you know, that the amount of money spent on outsourcing, it ends up being pretty significant.
Sean (00:10:43) - And so we want to we have a lot of people making sure things go really smoothly. So we we don't step away. Once we've matched a company with a client, we stay involved heavily on, you know, making sure that everything's working smoothly from an HR perspective. And the timesheets are all lined up. You know, those kinds of things. I would liken us more to a travel agency, you know, we know where to go, who to talk to, where to eat, all those things, how many tables, how many seats you need at the table where the best places to go are. We're slowly moving towards being more do it yourself. Because I've also recognized that engineers hate talking to salespeople. The and so and so letting the engineer actually doing the filtering for themselves. And then we'll do the due diligence once they've shortlisted a list. So we're slowly becoming more like an Expedia as opposed to travel agency.
Josh (00:11:36) - Yeah. And how does the model work. So if someone's like, well look, you know, we're going to have some projects coming up ahead in 2024.
Josh (00:11:44) - Um, we know we're going to need to staff, you know, two to 4 or 5 engineers. How do they how does the kind of the pricing model work and so forth?
Sean (00:11:52) - Yeah. So we work on a markup basis. So we don't we're it's very important that we don't take any money from one of the vendors, because then we that would impede our neutrality in searching on behalf of the clients. Uh, so we make an agreement with the client based on volume and length of contracts on a markup, and then that markup gets added to the whatever the winning vendor is. And what's nice about how we work is we have so much leverage more than the client. So let's say a client needs two or 3 or 5 engineers. Well, in some companies that are may be the perfect fit. That's maybe not a lot of their engineering bench. And so they're going to like, hey, you know this is our retail price. And we can say, hey, look, we're the entree for you to get in North America, do really well here and we can know more about you.
Sean (00:12:43) - And you can potentially get more business through, you know, through utilization and recommendations. So we have a much more levered negotiating power on behalf of the client. We generally drive it down to our markup being revenue neutral for the client or cost neutral for the client.
Speaker 4 (00:12:58) - Yeah.
Josh (00:12:59) - That's pretty great. You know, I was going to point out something that you had, uh, recently written. It was in a Forbes Council post, but you kind of talked about just since I got you and you, you have done some or some. Leadership thought leadership work around this? Um, as leaders. Um, you know, sometimes, again, defining scope can be tricky or not scope, but, you know, just kind of how that gets executed, right? And sometimes, you know, we end up lumping a bunch of stuff that maybe isn't truly critical or essential. Um, and you offered some advice about helping to understand, you know, maybe some of that unessential or non-essential work that's being done so we can kind of focus on what really matters.
Josh (00:13:44) - Do you mind maybe sharing some thoughts around that topic?
Speaker 3 (00:13:47) - Well, yeah.
Sean (00:13:48) - A lot of people think of outsourcing as doing a project, and most people don't have projects sufficiently scoped out to really do that kind of thing. Big, you know, government organizations, they can spend months getting these things organized. And then how to fully or enterprises have a fully scoped out project, but most companies really don't have. As you said, Josh earlier, the technical expertise to really understand scope even and or how an agile development environment works. So sometimes it's better to actually bring there's many methods of applying an outsourcing agency. Probably the best method is to bring a few of the engineers into your existing engineering team as a staff augmentation team, so they really get embedded with the culture of your organization, understand the logic of how you're building things better, and then they can break back into their own team so that they are really efficient and know understand everything. And they effectively become a clamp onto your existing team and time and materials as opposed to fixed price contract, because you can get, you know, fixed price contract sounds.
Sean (00:14:58) - Oh man, that's great. I know exactly what it's going to cost.
Speaker 4 (00:15:00) - Right.
Sean (00:15:01) - You know, three weeks later you're going, oh, I forgot about that, I forgot about that. And then you're adding, adding and adding and it goes infinitum. You can get really scope creep.
Josh (00:15:09) - Scope creep. So easy to is any advice on like how to either get it right at the beginning or how to I don't know what's your opinion on that, because I know that that happens frequently. I know I did that, you know. So for our last company, it was a, you know, as again, as a SaaS, B2C platform. And I mean, we were just constantly in the iterative process of developing like, oh, yeah, we should probably do that. Ah yeah. Yeah. No. Oh, I didn't consider that right. And so just like along the way and I'm sure the developers I was working with are like, oh man, this guy.
Sean (00:15:44) - Well that's true of any earlier stage company.
Sean (00:15:47) - Most companies have an idea, build a product and then realize, oh, this is what the customer actually wants and then drift off to it. Hopefully if they're going to be successful, they're going to listen to the customers and actually build what they want, not what you think they want. And, you know, very few people have the Steve Jobs magic of knowing what the customer wants before they actually want it, right? Most companies are responding to customer demand. And so it's almost impossible to figure what they want until you actually push it out to them. So so what's really important, what you just described, though, Josh, is having a lot of dynamic interaction between engineering and sales and customer success teams, so that you're getting that feedback loop on what's important, because you don't want to build what you think is important and find out it's a waste of your time and money. You want to build what that you really want the customer to know. And that's probably where a lot of companies fail is they just think those engineers, they don't know what they're just go build what I tell you to build.
Sean (00:16:44) - No, let them get involved. And that way they can also scope out whether this is going to be, you know, a massive project or whether it's minor. And sometimes the minor things are the tweaks that the clients love and really hook on to and get you sticky with your clients. So very important to have a leader within the engineering team that is really good at listening and communicating with sales, customer service, and ideally directly with the client. But nobody gets it all. First time I can guarantee you. No.
Josh (00:17:17) - Right? Yes. Well, good. It's good to know that I wasn't too far off course in our experience with that. Um, yeah. Uh, Sean, your website is out for Sky to a friend that's been listed for a conversation. What would you recommend that they do?
Speaker 3 (00:17:32) - Well, first of all.
Sean (00:17:34) - One of the most important things. And I do this company as much for the sake of entrepreneurs, that they don't waste time talking to engineering firms that are a waste of time.
Sean (00:17:45) - And there's a lot of them. They can be the right ones on paper, even for us, but they don't have the right engineers at the right time. So effectively shortening that period of time to understand how to do this. Somebody told me I should sell the book. We've written the definitive guide for outsourcing, and that's available for free on our website. So even if you don't use our service, take a look at that before you go and outsource for engineering. It has all the trick questions to ask, all the things to look out for. And I implore you to take a look at that. And if you want to, you know, test drive our product. We do have a redacted version of the entire database, which is 79,000 companies to choose from. And their median rates. So you can get a sense of how much in our database is actually fitting what you're looking for. And generally it does work. Um, and then we would love to help you. And that's what we're here for.
Sean (00:18:44) - It doesn't cost anything to search. As I said, we only take a markup if you successfully find the right agency through our service.
Josh (00:18:52) - I like it. All right, so the website again is out. First, I, uh, the resources, if you hover over where it says resources and then you click on guides, you actually have six. Yeah six different guides here that uh, again looks like you just click and uh, it's yours. And then again, you could test drive the platform as well. Again the website outsource I well, Sean, again, thank you so much for joining us again, founder and CEO Sean. It's been a joy having this conversation.
Sean (00:19:22) - Thank you Josh I appreciate it. And happy holidays.
Josh (00:19:30) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up my influence common Guest. If you're a listener, I'd love to shout out your business to our whole audience for free.
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