Hiring for the Long Haul

Before B-Stock Solutions hired even one local employee, it was carefully building a distributed team on oDesk.

B-Stock Solutions, a startup that helps major manufacturers and retailers liquidate excess inventory more effectively, has built itself with remote workers, and says it's counting on its stable, well-qualified workteam to help it continue to succeed over the long haul. Bill Cornell, B-Stock's vice president of technology, says he wanted a long-term team from the start, one that could mesh with his in-house staff.

B-Stock Solutions

— Bill Cornell / VP of Technology, B-Stock Solutions

"We don't just throw new things over the wall."

"Hiring freelancers on a per-project basis wouldn't have cut it," he says. "Having remote workers on an hourly basis has been invaluable to the rapid development of B-Stock's technology."

B-Stock, which sets up online auctions for companies' excess inventory, had 13 oDesk freelancers on its roster barely six months after its December 2008 launch — providing everything from visual design to software development, the team consists of seven workers in Russia, four in the Philippines, one in Bangladesh and one in the United States.

Cornell says he recruited carefully. "Initially, you need to break jobs into small, discreet tasks before posting them."

In assessing freelancers, he didn't start by comparing hourly rates. Instead, he looked for the most qualified workers, ones with the skills needed to get the job done. He also looked at the number of hours they have logged on oDesk, to judge their experience and success, and looks for relevant work samples in their portfolios.

B-Stock Solutions' Advice

Building remote teams takes strategy and effective management.

  • Look at freelancer qualifications before rates.
  • Read the cover letter to see that the candidate carefully read your job description.
  • Email and Skype are a powerful combination.
  • Have freelancers repeat instructions back to you, to make sure everything is clear.

These are skills he says he'll be using in the future, too.

"Our expectation is that we're going to continue to work with our current team of oDesk freelancers," he says, "and we'll expand as needed."

This Menlo Park, CA company is a true believer in remote workteams.

  • The first freelancer was hired before the company was even funded.
  • The company has hired from the United States, Russia, the Philippines and Bangladesh.
  • It has more than three times as many remote freelancers as internal employees — and counting.

About B-Stock Solutions

Launched in December 2008, B-Stock Solutions ( www.bstocksolutions.com ) builds, hosts and manages private online auction marketplaces, helping Fortune 2000 retailers and manufacturers liquidating excess inventory increase recovery rates by 20% to 100%.