Until very recently Angel investors and VCs were extremely bearish on companies with international tech teams, and teams that didn’t work in the same room. That view is changing.
The view is changing because it has to. Hiring a local team requires money and time that few entrepreneurs have. Entrepreneurs have to decide between forging ahead to build their business and waiting around to assemble the right team. Most decide to be scrappy and forge ahead.
At ClearGears, we’ve been using a combination of local and international talent to build our business and technology. We treat our international team members like employees – giving them equity and titles and insurance – and in return we get a committed team that’s in it for the long haul. I’ve known these guys for a number of years from working with them at my last company, so we’re truly a team. Thus far it has worked.
This model has worked for other companies too. Huffington Post uses a virtual and onsite team with developers in the United States, Chile, and Philippines. HuffPo proves that international teams can iterate fast to generate real value.
There’s an important difference, though, between hiring international employees and outsourcing one’s core business. Hiring a tech firm to build your business is a bad idea. Firm/client relationships can sour fast, interests are not aligned, and your company won’t build the in-house know-how it will need to be a valuable acquisition target.
A final caveat is that business development must be local to wherever your customers are. Selling, networking, hearing customer requests, and building reputation cannot happen through a Skype window.