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Apr 23, 2024
BY 
Devin Martin
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Osmos
OSMOS

Breaking Code: The Unseen Damage of Unethical Agencies

🚨 An Industry Epidemic: 

Behind the cover of success stories shared on Linkedin, a low-key group of burned startup founders haunts the startup graveyard. Year after year, hopeful founders tirelessly work to secure funding, unaware of the shadowy figure watching closely. Startups frequently fall prey to agencies that masquerade as trusted companies with promises of low costs and false claims of top-tier professionalism. In reality, these agencies promise big but outsource your project to junior talent, keep communication vague, and push clients toward unnecessary work. This dishonest practice eventually leaves freshly funded startups in ruins and their founders disorientated.

💡The Core Issue: 

Pursuing higher margins and the pressure of overhead is leading some firms to sacrifice client interest. Large outsourced firms traditionally carry massive costs and look at new clients as a short-term solution to their immediate problems. Outsourcing, when done ethically, is a valuable strategy. However, the issue arises when companies prioritize profits over product integrity, leaving clients with substandard and overpriced tech solutions. As agencies feel the pressure of overhead, they naturally prioritize themselves to survive. This can lead to agencies pushing clients to overbuild their products, delay launches, and utilize junior talent to achieve complex tasks.

🔍 Our Agency's Experience: 

As a creative agency specializing in startups, we've observed a troubling pattern from new clients. Almost every non-technical founder who approaches us with their MVP for marketing faces significant product issues. This recurring scenario led us to implement a mandatory policy: conducting our technical audit before agreeing to market services. This isn't just a precaution; it's become necessary to avoid the liability of marketing a flawed product that leads to user abandonment and tarnishes our client's reputation.

How to spot signs of this before it's too late:

Early Warning Signs: 

If your product is already developed be sure to keep an eye out for signs like one fix breaking several other features. It's a red flag for underlying instability in your product. If you are still in the proposal phase, look out for broad budgets without a defined scope, this may mean the contract is hourly billed. While hourly billed contracts are great for seasoned professionals, they can be detrimental for young founders who assumed the budget was a fee for a turnkey solution.

Team and timeline Consistency: 

Frequent changes in the development team and timeline can signal trouble. It often leads to inconsistencies and gaps in the codebase. A stable and cohesive team, along with a well-defined timeline, is essential for maintaining consistency in the codebase. When there are constant shifts in team members or project deadlines, it often leads to disruptions in workflow, communication gaps, and inconsistencies in the codebase. These inconsistencies can accumulate over time, making the codebase more vulnerable to errors and bugs.

Independent Audit: 

When you spot these signs, don't hesitate. Get your codebase audited by an independent, unbiased third party. This audit should be conducted by professionals who are unbiased and detached from your internal development processes. They can provide an objective assessment of your codebase's health, identifying any structural weaknesses, vulnerabilities, or areas in need of improvement.

🛠️ Practical Steps for an Unbiased Technical Audit:

Understand Your Tech Stack: 

Ask your development partner for a detailed outline of the technology stack used in your product.

Post a Job for an Independent Audit: 

Create a job post for a freelance senior developer or CTO to conduct an audit. Be clear that the purpose is to provide a detailed quality report. Use resources like ChatGPT to craft your job posting.

Select the Right Auditor: 

Interview several candidates, focusing on trust and budget compatibility.

Use the Audit Report Wisely: If the audit is positive, it's a green light for marketing and a valuable asset for potential investors. If negative, you can either demand improvements from your current developer, use the report to seek legal action or find a new development partner.

🔎 Finding the Next Development Partner:

Request Their Audit: 

Ask potential new partners to audit your product. (Don'tDon't share your internal audit results)

Compare and Shortlist: 

Shortlist those whose feedback aligns with your independent audit. Evaluate these based on timeline, price, and reliability.

💬 An Offer of Help:

 If you suspect you're a victim of this practice, reach out. I'm not here to sell my agency's services. Instead, I offer my time to guide you in the right direction, ensuring that you find a path that best serves your project's needs and your business's integrity.

📣 Final Thoughts: 

Our industry thrives on trust and quality. By demanding transparency and prioritizing ethical practices, we can safeguard our products and uphold the industry's reputation. Let's be vigilant and proactive in combating these unethical practices.

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