Odesk contractor rip-off

I previously a positive experience on Odesk for finding a graphic artist. I even offered a bonus.
The job was correctly after 3 hours, I decided to polish the work for a total of 10 hours.

However recently, I posted a job to build server side on Python Google App Engine for a new venture kowifi.com

How a contractor on Odesk can rip off

The people I invited were top talent, so they were busy with other projects. Some contractors bided . The ones who beg for the job are actually the needy. I interviewed two contractors from Ukraine both seemed good. I took the cheaper one and he seemed competent enough to do the job on his own. I planned 5 hours to get a first draft of the job done and as a test of skillset.

I passed some interview with great companies and before you get on an site or even technical skype interview, you have to pass a 5 hour challenge. Some are shorter like 30 minutes of coding test. But I said to myself : “no one will want to pass these tests for free”. Actually these tests filter the good candidates from the rest.

I should checked more on the dumb contractor. One job accomplished on Odesk for more than 200 hours and no review , sounds strange.

I hired him on friday. WRONG.
I set the time limit at 5 hour per week.
– However after 3h of work, nothing was visible. It was clear he had a poor understanding of “foreign key” and SQL. On the interview he bragged how he knew about PostgreSQL , GeoDjango … and showed his references project. But he had to look at the documentation every time. He hardly knew how to read SQL schema and translate into a Django model. Just three tables.
– I prolonged to 5 hours. still nothing. I should have stopped by then.
The Odesk  billing summary starts on Monday next week.
– On the next week, he worked unauthorized hours. I clearly said to wait for my instructions.
I saw my project on his github repo. No need to say some employees will get immediately sacked. It’s common sense not to make public the client’s project. When outsourcing software, the intellectual property is really important . But the bozo just pushed the source code on github. There was also the previous client project …

At the end , it’s a total of 8h, the test job is not done, time over run. I filed a dispute to get some cash back and for the extra log time.

Odesk makes money on hours billed

After reading this http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?987335-Odesk-getting-ripped-off

It’s clear Odesk is protecting the contractors or the hours billed by the contractors. Simply Odesk makes money on the percentage of hours billed. So it’s in their advantage not to refund money because it’s a loss. Odesk does not evaluate the quality of work. Even if I leave a bad review ( extra log time, put the source code on github … ) , the contractor can still make the comment private.

This open doors to shady contractor who will exploit it in the sense where as long they log their hours properly, they will be paid even though what they did is not usable nor complete.

Clearly I will never be fooled again by some bad contractors.

The Art of “Invest less, Get more”

I just came across an article from TIME.

How do you get started? All that’s required is a great idea for a product that will fill a need in the 21st century. These days you’d do best if your idea either makes people money or saves them money.

The term ramen profitable was coined by Paul Graham, a Silicon Valley start-up investor, essayist and muse to LILO entrepreneurs. It means that your start-up is self-sustaining and can eke out enough profit to keep you alive on instant noodles while your business gains traction.

I love this term LILOs, for “a little in, a lot out.” With economic crisis, VC are less willing to invest in high risk start up. Nonetheless some entrepreneurs turn to find cheaper developers through rentacoder.com or eLance.com.  It’s getting cheaper and cheaper to start a company :

  • hardware cost less, servers are affordable
  • cheap developers in rising countries are available
  • open source technology are free, no high licence fee

For me the new wave of entrepreneurs who will go through the crisis are the ones who can monetize instantly their projects. I think getting a load crap of users then selling ads/their personal info is not a business model. Rather it should be ‘freemium’ : free to register, pay for additional services (WordPress, Flickr …). Think of it a decade ago Jeff Bezos needed 300k$ to launch Amazon.  Now one lonely guy can run plentyoffish and generate revenues. Here is a VC’s view on Open Source

Guy Kawasaki on Startups using Open Source