I need help vetting a solid team or individual to help me build software for a start up idea I have.
I couldn't disagree with David's answer more. Someone non-technical using any kind of freelance service is likely to result in wasted time and money and failure to achieve an MVP. It's easy to get the "Minimum" part of Minimum Viable Product but it's still quite difficult to get the "Viable" part right. He's right that code written early-on likely won't be part of your active code base, but that's not sufficient reason for a non technical person to believe that they can achieve an MVP from freelancers.
I would suggest you look at events organized by http://founderdating.com/ and/or http://startupweekend.org/
I wrote an answer here https://clarity.fm/a/1929 directing first time founders to consider joining a startup before starting their own. You'll develop a network of technical and design talent, you'll understand the challenges a Founder and their team have to navigate, the requirements for raising capital and so forth. Most importantly, you'll appear far more credible when recruiting talent for your own startup to have experience under your belt.
If you're hell-bent on pursuing this idea, my advice to you is to be really clear on what makes you the right person to lead this startup. Why should the technical talent believe in their first meeting that you are the person who will take this idea and turn it into a very large business?
I'm happy to do a quick "pitch" call with you for me to pretend as though I'm that engineer you've met and give you candid feedback about whether you come across credible.
But I'd also seriously encourage you to get some startup experience under your belt first before pursuing this idea.
There are lots of good developers on odesk.com and elance.com. Go for someone who has a 5 star rating and lots of project hours.
Remember you don't need a GREAT developer... you need a product that is good enough to start with, get a few people using it and test the market and your idea as cheap as possible. I can guarantee that 100% of the code you write in the first year will end up in the trash as your product evolves. :)
It seems that what you need is not help on where to find these people or how to sell your pitch to them. In my oppinion you need help on how to differentiate a good and a bad developer, specially because code quality is not apparent to non-technical people.
There are tools that you may use to test technical skills like coding dojos, http://codility.com, http://codeeval.com adn others, but you may need help from a technical person to begin with.
Please call me and will coach you on the process so that you may be able to choose by yourself.
In most cases you get what you pay for. Our company gets a lot of business from start-ups that went the route of finding a cheap freelance developer or company and then find out they could not use the code, they wanted more to deliver the code and or kept the code to attempt to get more money.
We help these companies get the code working and looking good for their investors but if they had gone to a reputable company first it would have saved them valuable start up costs. This is not always the case of course. When you are looking at a developer, large or small, get references and look at previous work just like any other business. A lot of companies are also wary of start ups due to lack of finances so be upfront with them about your goals and ability to pay.
Please contact me if you need any help.
There are two ways I could think of to answer this question. Half of me agrees with Duncan - hire a good company that knows what it is doing. The other side of that is can you afford to go in that direction. When we started our business, hiring a good company was not an option - we bootstrapped and had no money to fund development. We went the route of hiring developers, but it caused us to make mistakes, some big, but all of which we recovered from. These included using the wrong development platform, selecting Microsoft SQL as our database that could not scale to where we grew. Our biggest problem was we often did not know the right questions to ask (i.e. how difficult and expensive will it be for us to scale Microsoft SQL).
We are marketers, not developers, so many times we did not know the right questions to ask. Over the years we hired more senior development staff and they helped tremendously. So my best advice is have someone on your team from the start that understands the technology side of what you are trying to do, and can translate and direct the developers you do hire.
It ultimately worked for us, but we learned a lot in the process. Would be happy to discuss this more if you like.
5* on odesk does not always mean what you think. they play tricks on odesk. using one profile to attract customers but in the end your developer is someone on their team.
I have hired from Odesk and there are teams which are a waste of time.
I have spent a lot of money and time with odesk.
For me it would have been ideal to find a local partner.
Find someone you *trust* that can either do it with you (e.g. he does all technical stuff, u do the rest) or knows how to organise it or where/whom to delegate. In latter case s/he may not be 100% techie but should be able to know and "read" people. Call it Architect/CTO if you want. Trust is essential, because a) you dont want your idea go stolen but more importantly, b) you're going to have lasting relationship with hir / people/group s/he finds/makes, and c) both of you should be able to ask real bad questions about the idea/undertaking and not break.
Make sure you two talk and discuss long enough on the idea so you both have same-enough understanding of it - you probably don't want a product that is perfectly build bit the wrong one.
Making software is all about trust - and people.