Toptal Alternatives and Competitors

Find Toptal alternatives with our comparison of the best Toptal competitors like Gigster, Crew and X-Team. We help you decide the best freelance developer platform for your needs.

Toptal Alternatives and Competitors

Toptal Review

What Is Toptal?

Toptal's business model is to provide contractors for large corporate clients. Originally, they focused on software engineers but have since expanded to designers and finance experts as well. The company has offices in New York and San Francisco, but the vast majority of their freelancers work remotely, with most being located in the Americas and Europe.

Since Toptal's founding in 2010, its CEO, Taso Du Val, has led it to become a well-known developer, designer, and finance talent marketplace. He founded the company together with Breanden Beneschott, who is Toptal's co-founder and COO. He is a frequent writer of articles on leadership of distributed teams and hyper-growth company culture.

Some of Toptal's major clients include companies like Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Airbnb, J.P.Morgan, the United Nations, and Pfizer.

Talent Available:

Toptal provides freelance software engineers, designers, and finance experts.

Project Management:

With Toptal, you work directly with the developer, designer or finance expert you hire. Project managers are not included.

Screening and Interview Process:

Toptal looks for great problem-solvers with passion and drive who are experts in their domain. They use a 4-stage vetting process:

  • Interview stage: Toptal begins by qualifying each of their freelancers' language skills via a video interview.

  • Assessment stage: Next, they start to assess their technical knowledge and intellect through automated code tests.

  • Screening stage: Toptal then screens for their problem-solving ability, depth of experience, communication ability, and creativity.

  • Test project: Developers are given a small project to test their competence, thoroughness, professionalism, and integrity.

Developers' Learning & Growth:

The Toptal community is primarily engaged through events, such as happy hours and tech meetups. The Toptal Community Leaders are responsible for engaging their community and creating more events and attract more developers to Toptal.

Toptal Is Suited for You If...

You need a developer, designer or finance expert to work on your existing project. Ideal for short-term engagements as they offer hourly and part-time rates.

Gigster Review

What Is Gigster?

Gigster is a company that connects developers with companies that need help with their projects. Since Gigster's start in 2014, they have grown and are now located in San Francisco. Gigster differs from its competition in that it charges their clients a flat per-project fee and also pays their developers a per-project fee.

Gigster is an invite-only network with 70% of their workforce based in the US, 15% come from western Europe, and 15% from elsewhere. They claim to accept only 0.5% of all applicants as “new members”, with only 0.2% making it to the “experienced member” stage.

Gigster was started in 2014 by Roger Dickey and Debo Olaosebikan. Roger, the CEO, is a serial entrepreneur and his co-founder and Gigster's CTO, Debo, is a not-retired-just-busy former rapper and Cornell Physics Ph.D. student who co-led a DoD project while studying.

Some of their major clients include names like IBM, Airbus, USBank, Mastercard, and eBay.

Talent Available:

Gigster provides full teams of developers, designers and project managers.

Project Management:

Gigster assembles an entire team, using AI, led by a project manager, whom the client communicates exclusively with.

Screening and Interview Process:

Gigster claims to have people who have graduated from top schools, worked at leading companies, or built popular open source projects in their network. Their vetting process consists of 3 stages:

  • Resume review: Here they look for people with resumes with big company names and top schools.

  • Written screening: They then ask a series of written questions that test their ability to ship products.

  • Phone screening: Gigster then tests their personality via a phone call and makes a final confirmation that they are a good fit for their platform.

Developers' Learning & Growth:

Gigster has a fund that invests in its own clients, and a portion of returns from that fund can be given to their developers as bonuses.

Gigster Is Suited for You If...

You have a project idea and want to outsource the development process and work only with a product manager.

Crew Review

What Is Crew?

Crew is another company that connects clients that need extra hands on projects with freelancers who are willing to provide those hands. They specialize in hiring out web and mobile developers, and web, mobile, and branding designers. Unlike companies which match developers with projects themselves, Crew allows developers to apply for projects they believe they would be a good match for.

Crew was founded by Mikael Cho, Luke Chesser, Stephanie Liverani, and Angus Woodman. With Mikael as the CEO. The founders have since left the company after selling the company to Dribbble. According to the CEO, however, they have made sure that the company values and respect for its designers and developers remain. Dribbble itself is a platform, where designers can present their work, process, and current projects.

Some of Crew's clients include Eventbrite, Google, Dropbox, Tinder, and Uber.

Talent Available:

Crew provides designers, software developers, and small development and design studios.

Project Management:

You must manage the project with your designer or developer through the Crew platform.

Screening and Interview Process:

Crew is a very design-oriented company (they were even acquired by the #1 design community, Dribbble). That is why they look for design-oriented profiles specialized in web, mobile or branding work. For developers, the requirements to join are simply:

  • Speak English fluently.

  • Share 3 references from past clients you have worked with.

  • Share links to at least 3 websites/web apps that you have designed or developed.

Crew Is Suited for You If...

You have a project that needs creative work from designers (or developers) and want to manage your project within a platform. It is also suitable if you want a website using a CMS or want a small studio take your product from idea to reality.

X-Team Review

What Is X-Team?

Since 2006, X-Team has provided trusted, motivated developers to companies looking to scale their teams. This makes it the longest-running service of the group. Unlike most of its competition, X-Team is not a simple project-freelancer matching service or agency. It is a tightly-knit community of top-class developers, specifically selected not only for their technical skill but also their well-vetted communication skills and a certain compassionate personality, which fits with the company's philosophy of creating a better future for people around the world.

X-Team places a huge value on professional and personal growth, and have teams dedicated to helping their developers “unleash” both their hidden and obvious talents. This investment resulted in a huge and steady year-over-year growth of 30% in the past three years, with more and more partners trusting X-Team's fully remote workforce. Moreover, all that while being 100% remote — the company does not have an office. Instead, they have distilled remote working down to a science and opened the lessons for everyone to see in X-Team's Definitive Guide to Remote Development Teams.

The company was founded by Dave Rosen in 2006. However, since 2014, it is run by the CEO Ryan Chartrand, who has envisioned its unique approach to employee satisfaction (>96%), unprecedented developer growth and motivation, and its marketing strategy, which have been instrumental for the company growth.

The major partners of X-Team include some of the world's leading brands, such as FOX Broadcasting, Riot Games, Kaplan Inc., Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and Twitter.

Talent Available:

X-Team focuses solely on providing motivated developers who are driven to keep their skills sharp in the most widely adopted technologies today.

Project Management:

Project managers are not provided so that developers can communicate directly with your team.

Screening and Interview Process:

X-Team attracts and hires experienced developers who are driven, proactive, open source contributors, committed to always learning and growing, and communicate often. X-Team's vetting process consists of 4 thorough stages:

  • Initial screening: First, X-Team gives developers a stage to showcase their background, communication skills and personality through a variety of questions and video interviews. X-Team has a strong culture based around a spirit of generosity and humble attitude, and it makes a strong effort to only accept developers who meet that profile.

  • Portfolio Review: Next, they dive deep into their portfolios and prior code samples, looking for people with creative problem solving, highly relevant skillsets, disciplined approach to testing and best practices, experience overcoming large scale challenges, and well-documented code.

  • Test Project: Developers are then given a project with changing requirements and unique challenges to help reveal more about how they react to and communicate in common situations, as well as what technical decisions they make and how those decisions impact long term stability. The product is never used commercially by the company.

  • X-Academy: At this stage, developers are paid to work on internal projects to continue to prove their value (and that they do not need their hand held), while also being trained on how to be an X-Teamer by giving them a decade's worth of knowledge on how to communicate effectively. They are also welcomed into a highly motivated community filled with opportunities to continue learning and growing.

Developers' Learning & Growth:

X-Team provides a wealth of opportunities to their developers to continue learning and growing through its Unleash program.

  • Every developer gets a $2,500/year discretionary growth budget to purchase programming books or courses (Egghead, etc.), attend workshops or tech conferences (including X-Team's own conference, UnleashConf), get a gym membership to stay healthy, get productivity tools or apps, and anything else that they think will help them grow and stay motivated. The total growth investment into every one of X-Team's developers is approximately $7,500/capita/year, however.

  • In their free time, developers can participate in X-Team's various ongoing challenges that motivate them to learn and grow. Challenges range from building open source projects together, learning new tech, joining hackathons, mentoring other developers, participating in fitness challenges, learning and sharing productivity techniques, competing in gaming tournaments, and much more.

The development industry today is highly competitive, requiring considerable effort to engage developers sufficiently enough to retain them for the long haul.

Developers today join companies expecting to grow and that expectation has to be met to keep them around.

That is why X-Team invests significantly in keeping their developers motivated by providing them with a myriad of learning and growth opportunities, allowing their customers to focus solely on making great products — not trying to keep their developers engaged.

X-Team has discovered after a decade of this approach that motivated developers are more active, push projects forward, communicate more often, and consistently deliver and ship products.

“X-Team's moral compass, ethical framework and care for its developers are all immense factors into what makes X-Team an amazing place to be.”
Ali Uz, X-Team Developer

X-Team Is Suited for You If...

You need motivated, proactive programmers who move projects forward, communicate often, do not need their hands held, and are supported by a company dedicated to helping their developers keep learning and growing.

It is also a great fit if you are looking for a developer to keep around for the long haul, as with X-Team's support via its Unleash program, they will continue to grow their skills alongside your business.

Conclusion

Although all of these companies provide development and/or design resources, your decision ultimately comes down to what you need.

Need short-term resources? Consider Toptal or Gigster, they boast high quality and vetted talent for more short-term engagements.

Need design-centric resources? Consider Crew, a Dribbble owned company with a strong focus around design.

Need long-term resources you can trust for the long haul? Consider X-Team, they boast high quality developers who will be supported, motivated and given a wealth of learning and growth opportunities for as many years as you need them. If you are going for long-term growth (more than 3 months), you need developers who will have the support to keep growing with you.

We hope we helped you understanding the differences between each of these services.

This research comes from the information published on each company's websites. If something is not accurate or you want us to modify it, please reach us at contact@x-team.com

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