My saga on hiring coders in Brazil (and what i learned trying to be a solo enterpreneur)

Well, this text begins, first of all, telling you that if you have the patience to read it till the end, you will realize that inexperience, almost lack of intelligence (not to say stupidity), on my part also contributed for the hole situation i’m in and, of course, what i have learned.

I’ve been trying to release an app since 2017, and the full story goes back to 2010, when an idea had come up in my mind and knowing absolutely nothing about coding, i decided to hire someone to build a website, when the worst experience of my life has its start. (and gives context to the title of this article)

So, back in 2010, i was looking for someone to make my idea a living thing. Some contacts of mine gave me theirs of people who work with websites. The one that i chose was a guy that gathered a team of 4 people, a designer, a “system engineer”, a coder and himself as the project manager. All of them worked, at the time, 2011, at one of the biggest agencies in IT from São Paulo, at Faria Lima street, one of the most known commercial streets in São Paulo Brazil. Long story short, 8 months later, the only thing i received was a Logo. (And they had 3/4 of their money in the contract)

Back to searching an agency, Google did the job this time, and i found one that had a better contract, and apparently was serious about what they were doing. This time i got a website, with some delay, but i got it. This was in 2012. But…. it was a website with so many bugs, it was barely acceptable. The agency received all their money and after that they were done with me. No support.

I was a little desperate at the time, since every test i did showed a new problem with the website.

And the craziest thing happened. My phone rang, first monday after they stopped answering. A guy i never heard of asked me if i was satisfied with my website.

I answered: “who are you and how do you know my website? “

His reply: “I’m the one who developed your website. The agency you hired contacted us to do the job.” ( yes the agency i hired didn’t know how to do the website and even so they took the job by passing to someone else)

As shocked as i was, the guy offered help for free once i said the website was a mess and full of problems, problems that were on his account. After got screwed and screwed, this guy got my admiration, since he seemed responsible in his contact.

Then the biggest mistake of all this path took place. I started trusting this guy, a guy from an agency in Curitiba. He suggested me a design change in the website and i accepted. It was a long 1 year and a half untill he deliver the change (it was supposed to be delivered in 6 months and long after i discovered that he actually didn’t know how to do it and learned over the process)

And worst of all, he did the hole thing differently than the websites original purpose, that was to have quick conversations. He did something Medium like (after sometime i discovered the guy was a Medium fan). For long texts.

Since the beginning i said this wouldn’t workout. The chances of success were minimal. Even so, with the perspective of getting a lot longer to do it all over again, i tried to make it work. Emailing a thousand people a day, when was easy to search blogs on Google, i got about 400 users in two months.

After a year or so (about 2015/2016), i realized that i needed to get back to the original idea with some new things added, that would make the hole platform more appealing. So after a lot of conversations about changes and how the website should really work i trusted (yes i was wrong) this guy again to make the changes and develop and app that could represent an overhaul to the platform. This was already middle 2017. Long long story shorted, by the end of 2018 after i put some pressure on the guy, i discovered he hadn’t made a single thing. Long after the promised dates. He suggested to give me my money back with no fine evolved and in parcels, even if it was accorded in the contract a fine. Of course the thing ended up in a lawsuit.

So by the end of 2018 i was almost broke. I decided to take my last shot. And man, how i screwed this time. After all the terrible agencies experiences, i decided to hire a freelancer coder to program the app ( i made all design by myself on adobe xd with more than 150 screens). I went to a very known coders website and chose the one with the highest score. And this time, with a contract made by my lawyer. A great contract to protect me from all the problems i had before. The coder agreed. Long story shorted: the guy (from other brazilian far state), was awesome at the beginning and after delivered me the website with all the changes ( still with bugs), but no app, simply disappeared from the face of the earth, and a lawsuit is in its course again. (Just to be clear, lawsuits in Brasil take long long very long journeys, imagine a few years, no matter how right you are)

After all that i got to talk with a coder (who has his own agency) that taught me the following: no coder (at least in his experience here in Brasil) does this kind of job, either you find one that wants to partnership with you or you have your own employee, that you pay monthly, and is right in front of you for you to watch him woking. Otherwise, the thing never gets done, the coder doesn’t do his job.

Since i ran out of money, i decided to try a partnership with coders (like the guy above suggested me), giving them part of the business. After a NDA was signed ( as with all previous agencies and the coder from the last paragraph), and i made it clear to them that i had no money and was looking for a partnership, the coders ( from IBM here in Brasil) said that they wanted about 70k to do the job. My obvious reaction was: if you knew i was looking for a partnership why do you guys are proposing me this??? One of them had the nerve to tell me that he had to do this and that if the business was successful, than he would want a chunk of it. I sincerely don’t know if he was trying to be smart, if he was dishonest or just ignorant.

This has been my experience with this kind of service in Brazil. Maybe i had no luck, certainly i had part of the fault in choosing wrong people. And maybe, or certainly, there is a good chance that my experience echoes others’, showing a pattern of how brazilians work.

After 10 years and 150k (in brazilian currency) spent (a minimum wage here is 1k/month) on four different people i have nothing and of course every new agency or coder say they have to start all over again.

I remember back in 2010 how i “prepared” myself to all that i thought was going to happen. Business plan, marketing plan, pitch deck, taking online courses on how to be an entrepreneur, learned design along the way, translated the hole website to two languages myself, created videos for YouTube and etc. Done all that. But I didn’t learn the most important things. Didn’t learn how to read people, how to know who to trust. Didn’t know that the path was to have someone big to back me up financially so that i could hire big agencies or even make a team paying monthly wage, something that would make my bussiness not a MVP but a real company, with people that would believe the idea and fight for make it work. That being a solo enterpreneur with no experience in the area was the worst idea ever.

And didn’t know the brazilian justice and laws well. It’s slow with no guarantees whatsoever even if you pay what was in the contract and didn’t receive a damn thing.

If i did it all again, i would never done this way and never here in Brazil. That is my experience.

Cadu Roncatti Bomfim

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Solo enterpreneur, photographer and trying to figure out life itself

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