An often overlooked option is to find a team that very specifically specializes in exactly what you need to build. Most often this option is overlooked because such teams are hard to find. Such teams need to have 2 key attributes—a targeted focus in marketplace development and real world experience in it. These teams, when they exist, are often booked long in advance and don’t typically advertise on a big scale.

But if you are lucky enough to find a good, vetted team that specializes in just what you do, you can be certain you will realize benefits you’re unlikely to find in other structures such as agencies, off-the-shelf or offshore.

Five key reasons to go with a specialized team:

1. High-quality, vetted code

They already have vetted code. Even the most custom build will leverage significant amounts of vetted code. You want this because the vetted code has be tried and tested and this exponentially speeds up both development and QA. Which means you get to market faster and start making money rather than just spending it.

2. Experience and expertise

Having a specialized team with well-rounded diverse backgrounds means that you have a SWAT team of sorts. Everyone jumps in and leverages his/her expertise and because they are focused and experienced, they keep up with the latest best practices for their part of the build. And because they have already established and polished their processes and have worked with each other before they are very efficient.

3. More bang for your buck

Overhead is low for specialized teams. In stark contrast with startups that go the in-house team route for example who have to find, pay and keep top-notch programmers which is a very expensive endeavor. If you don’t have sign-on bonuses, big salaries, long vacations, medical, bonuses, and fußball tables to support, you can save a lot on overhead. Additionally, agencies have to support managers, sales, advertising, office overhead as well as developer salaries.

So with all those perks, why would top-notch developers opt out and work on a specialized team? It’s a lifestyle choice. They can do great, meaningful work, be based in Brooklyn but work for a couple of the winter months in Bali for example. Sweet.

4. Guarantee fixed budget and time

A great advantage of a specialized team is that because they focus on one kind of build, they can develop and hone good processes. This results in more efficient builds, which saves time and money but perhaps most importantly, it makes giving a fixed price and timeline truly possible. If you’ve ever done development before you’ll know how rare that is and for a lot of good reasons. Teams who don’t specialize, by definition, don’t know what they don’t know. They find out and unfortunately they find out on your dime. Knowing exactly what your marketplace will cost and when it will launch (without budget and time creep) is a luxury a specialized team can provide you.

5. Domain expertise

Marketplaces are simplistic in their concept and very complex in their execution. An excellent marketplace user experience is about distillation.

The devil is in the details. Marketplace development, like any other industry, has a plethora of niche details which take time to learn and get right. Specialized teams have already invested that time and you benefit from that. They already know how to convert currencies and all issues that arise with it; how to handle returns and refunds; how to secure the marketplace from fraud; how you maximize user experience without clutter, etc. All of this (and much more) is solved by leveraging experience.

Many founders will be pleasantly surprised to find that your specialized development team is anticipating problems and coming with solutions for issues that never occurred to you. A simple example would be the creative ways people have come up with to game a marketplace. A good specialized team has “heard it all” and already have safeguards in place as part of the initial build. Besides the obvious, this also saves you with users. One really bad experience can be a big blow to your reputation and thus ability to drive traffic to your marketplace. No users, no business. You want a team that will cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s for you.

Just makes sense

While it is true that you are essentially “renting” the talent of these experts to build your marketplace, as opposed to “owning” them in the way you would an in-house team, if money and time are issues (and when are they not?), then any implied disadvantage of not having these experts on as full-time staff are far outweighed by the advantages. Simply put, a specialized development team can get you to market faster and less expensively than an agency or in-house team and in the beginning of your business, when every dollar is precious, this matters.

Peter Burnes
Peter has been building marketplace websites for 10 years. He is a co-founder of Campus On Fire and founder of Brooklyn-based design firm Lúgh Studio.