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Hiring a developer to build your Flex marketplace

Tips to help you hire a developer to build a marketplace with Sharetribe Flex

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Sharetribe Flex allows you to build a unique marketplace fast with custom development. Unless you have these development skills, you need to hire someone who does. Though any developer will do, we recommend hiring a vetted developer from Sharetribe's official Flex Expert Network for great quality work.

Hiring a developer to build your marketplace with Flex requires two things. First communicating your requirements to the developer. Second, matching your requirements to your budget, timeline, and what Flex offers. The rest of the article will walk through these aspects.

Defining custom requirements using the Flex Template

With Flex, you have full freedom to build a completely unique marketplace. This means the developers you hire need guidance on how exactly you want the marketplace to work.

We recommend using one of Flex Templates for Web as a basis for the development work, especially if you're launching a marketplace for the first time. The Flex Templates are examples of fully functional marketplace applications. Typically the Templates have 80%-90% of the functionality you need already available, so you can focus on your unique requirements, and save a lot of time and money.

Basing your customizations on the Flex Template requires understanding what it offers. There are a few ways to gain this understanding:

  1. Access the Saunatime demo via your Flex Console. Saunatime is one of the Flex Templates. The demo allows you to try out all the features of the Flex Template: searching, signing up as a new user, adding listings, making bookings and payments, sending messages, leaving reviews, and so on.
  2. Study how listing search, listing creation, and transactions work specifically.
  3. Install one of the template applications (Saunatime, Yogatime, or Sneakertime) yourself, or ask a developer to do it for you.
  4. If you're comfortable working with design software like Sketch, Adobe XD or Figma, you can download the complete design files of the two templates to explore all their pages and views.

Your developer’s job is to customize the Flex Template (how it looks and how it works) to meet your unique requirements. Your responsibility is to communicate these requirements to the developer.

When you meet with the developers, you should be able to explain to them how your users create content (e.g what kind of information you collect from them when they sign up or add a product or service on offer ), how your users find this content (is there a search by location or by keyword, what kind of categories and filters can be used when searching, and so on), and how buyers and sellers transact (is there an online payment, messaging, reviews, and so on). Whenever there's a difference in what you see in the template and how you want your marketplace to work, you need to communicate this to the developer. You can follow this user journey guide for help.

You also need to communicate to the developers how the marketplace looks visually. The fastest option is to follow the visual style of the Flex Template. However, you might have a completely unique visual style in mind. In this case, you either need to adjust the design files yourself to communicate the visual style you want, or hire a designer to do this work for you. Many Flex Experts also offer design services you can hire.

The required budget

Using one of the Flex Templates as a basis, building a unique marketplace concept typically requires at least 100 hours of development.

At a rate of $30 per hour (the hourly rates of Flex Experts vary from $15 to $100), this means building the first version of your marketplace would cost $3,000. This is the absolute minimum budget you need to be prepared for. However, in this scenario, your concept would need to require only minimal adjustments to the templates, where you keep the user journeys the same and focus only on changing the particulars: listing fields, search filters, small changes to the transaction process, and branding.

More commonly development will take more hours, so an average budget required to launch the first version of your platform tends to be around $10k.

The cost and time to develop your unique marketplace with Flex depends heavily on your specific requirements in terms of features and budget. What you are building and who you hire to build it are the biggest determinants of the budget needed to build your marketplace.

Connecting to the Flex Expert Network

You can connect with developer from the Flex Expert Network through Console. Either book a call with a Sharetribe expert to discuss your project and questions, or submit your requirements through the form. If you prefer, you can review Expert profiles and contact them directly in the Expert directory. Flex Experts can prepare a high-level estimate for building your marketplace fast.

As a general rule, we recommend you to launch your first version (the "Minimum Viable Platform") with as minimal a feature set as possible, in order to be able to launch faster and validate your concept. We call this the Lean Marketplace approach.

Once you start receiving feedback from your first users, it's a lot easier to decide what to build next. As you grow, you should be prepared to constantly adjust your platform and release new improvements to it. Our recommendation is to reserve at least half of your development budget for changes you're going to make during the first 12 months after launching, instead of spending your entire budget pre-launch.

Check out our practical guide to building an online marketplace for more strategies on how to build, launch, and scale your marketplace.