What can we say about Toptal? They've built a $100 million dollar business in record time, with minimal amounts of venture capital. We respect the shit out of that.

That said, we're in the same business. They do some things well; we do other things well. We take a blue ocean view: we encourage you to try us both and see which you like better. Our estimation is that you will find Toptal appropriate for certain jobs, and Gun.io appropriate for others.

A review of Toptal

Toptal's founders are whip-smart Princeton graduates. They've built a cool business that engages freelancers from across the world to augment companies' existing teams. If you check out their website, they have an impressive list of brand name enterprises that they and their freelancers have worked for.

Toptal is a great fit if you need bodies to execute faster, or you need trusted folks to take care of your B-list and C-list priority items while your existing team executes on your core list.

An (admittedly biased) review of Gun.io

While staffing companies like Toptal sell resources, we sell results. Rather than provide a body, we provide the following:

  • one week of a product manager and technical architect's time to build a estimate cost and a plan of attack (free of charge, and provided at signing)
  • Scrum* management of your team (free of charge, and provided throughout your project)
  • QA and product testing conducted by outside parties on every release cycle (you pay for this, but we highly recommend it)

Our approach has intrigued hundreds of large companies like Cisco & NBC and thousands of small companies that are doing only a few hundred thousand dollars in revenue. For every project — no matter the size — we provide full support.

We know that if your project launches smoothly, you'll come back for more. We're willing to over-invest in guaranteeing results, rather than under-invest to make our financial reports look pretty in the short-run.

Comparing Guarantees

Toptal provides a trial period of 20 hours. If you're unsatisfied, they'll refund your payment and you get a new developer.  

We have a different approach. If we screw anything up at any point during the project (let's say, we introduce a bug into your codebase) we: 

  1. Offer you the choice of a refund or allow us to fix it for you on our dime 
  2. If necessary, swap out the freelancers responsible for the error (for free)
  3. Own the cost of training them on your particular project and codebase's context (we pay our freelancers, but you don't have to pay us)This is important, because if you were to go to a traditional development shop, they will bill you for discovery.
  4. Work on the mistake until it's gone (on us — we will pay our freelancers for this time, but you don't pay us)

Refunds in the way Toptal provides are good, but they don't go far enough. They get your money back, but not your time. They limit your initial financial exposure, but they don't increase your overall chance of success. 

Conclusion

We have a lot of respect for Toptal and believe they have earned their reputation for high-quality software development.  If you want good, effective developers, you won't go wrong with Toptal.

But, if you want more than just top talent, come say hello.