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I recently pitched a project I've been working on to a small company that I know, coincidentally, has a need for something similar. They seemed excited by what I have, and what I said I could do, but worried that, as a lone (actually, they said 'rogue') programmer I could up and leave them with a non-functional program. They suggested that I get a few people together, write up a solid proposal, and meet with them again. They've promised office space and a good budget because this is an application that would greatly increase productivity for them.

The problem is I'm still quite new to the field, I have no professional experience, and while I know I could complete this project, I don't know how to find other people to bring in on it.

Does anyone have any experience in situations like this? Any ideas on where I could look?

Also, the company and I are both located in Manhattan, if that helps determine where to look for people.

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I've seen established companies leave clients with an unfinished or useless program. Going "rogue" has little to do with the size of the company. –  jojo Aug 29 '11 at 0:30
    
Along the lines of what jojo says, avoid waterfall and go for an iterative methodology. –  James Poulson Aug 29 '11 at 0:54
    
Try ordering pizza. –  kevin cline Oct 25 '11 at 19:32

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If it's financially sound for you to finish the project in your spare time without getting paid, then do that. Then come back to the company and pitch the finished project with a pilot trial run. No guarantees they'll buy it, but it will lay to rest their fears of an unfinished/useless program.

FYI. Contacts are gold and you don't share that all willy nilly. You may get cut out of the deal.

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1  
deserves more than the +1 for the FYI.... –  mattnz Aug 29 '11 at 9:08
    
I've accepted this because it's what I plan on doing, but the other answers all offer solid advice. –  Dogmatixed Aug 30 '11 at 22:34

Since you are in Manhattan, wait for the storm to die down then try Craigslist. But don't forget that the strangers that you bring into the program may be worse than a single "rogue" programmer.

Your better bet would be to demonstrate that you are using established programming techniques in an established programming language. Demonstrate that your code is well commented and conforms to standard programming conventions. Then in the event that you get hit by a bus anyone with knowledge of the language will be able to step in.

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Well, the people I'm proposing this to have no experience with programming best practices, they're in the music business, so I don't know that they'll understand that argument. I'm also hesitant to say something like that because it almost sounds like an admission that I might quit partway through. –  Dogmatixed Aug 28 '11 at 16:20
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@Dogmatixed You should plan as if you're going to go away anyway. A team must be always ready for a key member to leave. You might be abducted by ETs. Or just have a better proposal. Document both the code and the development process, and so on. dotancohen advice is good. –  Vitor Aug 29 '11 at 2:37

In terms of looking for people to join you…

• User groups

Look for meetings of user groups focused on the technologies you’ve chosen for the project. Attend those meetings regularly. You can get a sense of people by observing and chatting with them. Personality, interest, and reliability are at least as important as specific skills.

Besides technical user groups, there are also support/discussion groups for small business owners and people launching startups. They may know of individuals who are good at helping on a project.

• Word of Mouth

Let people know you are looking for a partner/co-worker in this project. Start asking around the technical folks you know (or will meet through user groups, etc.). Talk to people in your client’s industry. Lastly talk to the folks you know who "know people", who have a wide circle of acquaintances and contacts. I'm amazed at how some people alway seem to “know somebody who knows somebody who does such-and-such”. Baristas, café servers, people that work in Human Resources departments, etc.

• Ask Who To Ask

A successful salesperson taught me that when they get a "No" answer, they directly ask who else they could meet who might say "Yes". In this context, that means when talking to people who know a lot of people, if they can't think of any potential candidates, ask them who else might know of potential candidates. They might not have an apple to give you, but can point you to an apple tree.

This might seem tedious and inefficient. But actually you may be amazed how productive these approaches are. People like to help in this manner.

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If you are looking for help for a short-term project, you may ask for help on specialized websites (I won't link them cause I'm not sure it's allowed). You can find people working near you or worldwide with a remote job. I would start there. Googling for "freelancers" will give you already many.

You can also search for help in some programmers or programming-related forums, creating a new post (if a specified section for this topic exists) explaining your needs and the kind of project you need to make.

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I'm not sure how to find these specialized websites, could you be a bit clearer on what these websites do/how to find them? –  Dogmatixed Aug 28 '11 at 19:49
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I think Jose means freelancer sites. You should be able to find a few. I'll just mention odesk and hope it's ok with the moderating team here. –  James Poulson Aug 29 '11 at 0:56
    
@James Poulson: Yes I'm referring to those sites. Just google for "freelancers" and you will get many already. –  Jose Faeti Aug 29 '11 at 4:05

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