Providing real value as a middleman

Because Code For Cash is a marketplace between freelance programmers and hiring managers, we’re also a middleman.  There’s a book called The Middleman Economy that discusses a framework for roles in which middlemen provide value.

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Here are Marina’s six categories:

  1. The Bridge (reducing physical, social, or temporal distance)
  2. The Certifier (be able to discern quality)
  3. The Enforcer (make sure both parties stay honest)
  4. The Risk Bearer
  5. The Concierge (makes life easier)
  6. The Insulator (taking the heat, enabling self-promotion)

 

In this article, I examine Code For Cash’s opportunity to play each role – from the lens of the hiring manager as well as the freelance developer.  I also suggest a few ways in which we could measure our progress…

The Bridge

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Hiring Manager

Opportunity: Finding personnel to execute a task.

How we measure this: Average time from posting job to finding a good candidate.  

 

Developers

Opportunity: Find jobs for developer.

How we measure this: Average number of opportunities for developer after 2 weeks (increase).  Average number of opportunities per user per month that were declined due to poor match quality (Low-value, not a skill match, miscategorized, bad cultural fit, other) (decrease).

 

Certifier

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Hiring Manager

Opportunity: Conducting reference checks, coding tests, interviews, checking work samples, managing a vouching and reputation system.

How we measure this: What percent of potential projects succeed or fail, but not because of personnel issue?

 

Developer

Opportunity: Check into reputation of client and verifying that client has funds to pay.  Check client’s history with freelancers..

How we measure this:  What percent of projects that start end up with complaint?  What percent of projects result in repeat transactions between developer and manager?

 

Enforcer

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Hiring Manager + Developer

Opportunity: Publishing a Software Grievances forum where developers and managers may post and respond to grievances.  Indicate whether the parties chose to forgo best practices: specification with data inflows and acceptance tests (projects > $2000), reference checks, keeping funds in escrow, independent verification of functionality.  Indicate how the parties were introduced (enable posts external to Code For Cash).

How we measure this: How many views do Grievances posts get?   

 

Developer

Opportunity: Provide an escrow service.

How we measure this:  How much $ flows through escrow monthly?

 

Manager

Opportunity: Provide an escrow service.  Provide an independent verification of functionality service.

How we measure this:  How much $ flows through escrow monthly?  How many projects choose to purchase independent verification of functionality?

 

Risk Bearer

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Hiring Manager

Opportunity: Managing the five core risks common to all software development: irrational deadline, requirements inflation (“scope creep”), spec ambiguity, employee turnover, and poor productivity.  Making sure that all big projects have clearly defined data inflows and outflows as well as a spec.  

How we measure this:  

What percent of projects have clearly defined data inflows and outflows?  

What percent of projects have a spec?

What percent of projects have unrealistic expectations for timeline (this is arbitrary, but possible to judge with human judgment)?

What percent of projects experience scope creep – what percent of projects use a milestone-based scope system, to discourage scope creep (punt changes; force adjustments to subsequent milestones before milestones are underway).

What percent of projects experience a key member leaving the project underway?

What percent of milestones are missed?  Perhaps also–Git integration, tag all commits with milestone id, measure commits toward milestone.  Force breaking up of milestones into subtasks, and measure avg. time for task-in-progress.

 

Opportunity: Finance development with SAFEs.  Developers get paid normal wage; financier (Code For Cash) accepts equity at 2x wage.  For projects with proven/credible ROIs.  

How do we measure this:  How much SAFE funded development flows through the system each month?

 

Concierge

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Hiring Manager

Opportunity: Managing the hiring process *for* you so you can focus on other tasks: take a budget and be responsible for a deliverable; acting like an agency.

How do we measure this:  What is the GMV that flows through the platform?

 

Developer

Opportunity: Apply to jobs on your behalf

How do we measure this:  How much outreach are we performing per week?

 

Insulator

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Hiring Manager and Developer

Opportunity: Negotiating on your behalf, playing “bad cop” in the hiring process.

How do we measure this:  How many people have elected to have us negotiate rates for them?

 

Opportunity: Evaluate credibility of counterparties

How do we measure this:  How many reference checks do we do per week?

 

Conclusion

Which opportunities should we prioritize? If you run a middleman business, where do you provide value? Where are your opportunities? I’d love if you leave a comment! My email is zack@codefor.cash