Toptal Alternatives

If you are reading this page, it is likely that you are a startup co-founder, a CTO of a growing company, or a product development manager in a large organization. Either way, at some point you will face the exact same challenge of finding and managing reliable software and app developers, frontend or backend engineers.

Freelance platforms like Toptal are an alternative way to hire these developers and engineers if you don’t want to onboard more full-time employees to your company.

Like all businesses, you’re looking to get the highest return on your investment. Given that you will be investing substantial cash sums, and large amounts of your time and effort on your project, naturally you want it to pay off.

That amount of time and money poses a significant risk should the project fail, therefore, all aspects of the development process require proper research. The platform where you hire your developers is no exception.

Nowadays, there are many platforms where you can hire a developer or a development team. These include Gigster, Gun.io, XB Software, and DevTeam.Space. The challenge comes in figuring out which platform will serve your needs better.

To make it easier for you, let’s review Toptal, a popular platform to hire freelancers from.

Here is a clickable content of this article:

What is Toptal?

Toptal is a freelancer platform that connects startups and businesses with software engineers, designers, and business consultants.

Toptal claims to be an exclusive network of the top freelance software developers, designers, and finance experts.

The platform claims to provide high-quality freelance talent for any company size and the most popular tech stacks. To help clients manage their freelancers, they make sure all of them read and write English.

What Kind of Developer Do You Need?

Let’s start by going over the different developer requirements for the specific mobile application development needs you may have. This will directly influence the type, number, and hiring duration of the developer(s) that you hire.

  1. If you have a simple project, aka a handful of landing pages, then you’ll probably need a part-time engineer, namely an individual who is focused primarily on small projects and has built similar solutions before. You can purchase a landing page template and they will implement it for you, connect it to the email forms and your domain name, set up the server, etc.
  2. If you’re building something more complex, let’s say a simple corporate WordPress based website, then you may need a professional WordPress developer. They would most likely adjust one of the paid design or theme templates, write the backend, set up the server, and complete all other necessary steps in order to launch and support your website.
  3. However, if you’re launching a more serious website, you may need to hire a complete dev team, a dev shop or agency, or individual specialists and manage them by yourself. They will be able to build a custom website, let’s say a marketplace, for example, using NodeJS for the backend and AngularJS for the frontend. They will use WordPress to set up your company blog for your SEO marketing efforts and link it to the website. With this type of project, your development team will need to have a professional designer, frontend and backend developers, and a DevOps specialist. If you have never managed a project before, it may be tough and risky to build the whole team yourself. In this case, it would be easier for you to hire a complete dev team.
  4. The next level of complexity is developing a mobile application. For this, you will need to hire a complete mobile development team, mobile experienced designer, and web developers for your backend infrastructure and the server environment. Your project could even have both mobile apps (for iOS and Android) and a website. This will increase the complexity of the team you need even further.
  5. Finally, you may have a complex Java or .NET based software solution for your enterprise-level SaaS product with multiple microservices and complex API integrations. It may also involve some data engineering, artificial intelligence integration, or a blockchain-based solution. At this stage, you will need top-level experts working as a team, with relevant expertise and experience in cyber-security, high-availability systems, and different server architectures, etc.

It is likely that your project doesn’t fit 100% into the examples above. The idea is to give you some idea of your developer requirements.

Now you can see what type of project you have, we can discuss Toptal’s pros and cons. This will help you understand if it fits your product requirements and so understand if it is the right platform for you.

Later on in this Toptal review, we will look at Toptal alternatives so you can make an educated decision and pick the most suitable software development service for your project.

The Pros and Cons of Toptal

Many companies are attracted to Toptal because of its claim to only hire the top 3% of freelance talent. This statement implies that only the cream of the crop work for them.

However, you need to keep in mind that good developers are only a small part of a project’s overall success.

A successful project hinges on a well-defined product development process and developmental practices. This includes tech-savvy project managers and experienced account managers.

Without these core components, project delays and other problems are inevitable. Toptal’s service lacks several of these components.

Toptal’s main selling point is that they have already done the job of vetting candidates to make sure they are experienced freelancers. On the other hand, it’s up to you to manage the developers.

Let’s get into more details. Let’s start by looking at the potential advantages of using Toptal:

  1. Toptal allows companies quick access to a vetted database of freelancers (freelance developers, designers, and financial specialists). This may save you a significant amount of time when hiring developers for small projects.
  2. Cost of hiring individual freelancers can be lower than working with agencies. While hiring freelancers might be more costly on a per hour basis when compared to a full-time employee, on a project-by-project basis, freelancers save companies considerable amounts of money.

While Toptal’s business model is ideal for companies that need to quickly bring in some extra developers to their team, their approach may not be ideal for companies that need a more structured approach. Let’s take a closer look at some of the potential drawbacks to using Toptal:

  1. There have been claims relating to poor management and low morale in the company, which, if true, obviously is a huge concern for businesses and entrepreneurs. Also, you have to manage developers yourself, which means there is no project management support and no client-facing tools for project management either.
    Not only do you need regular updates regarding your project’s progression, but you also need confidence that the development management team and developers are keeping the project on track from their end. Companies who wish to have detailed updates to maintain oversight of their projects might find themselves frustrated with Toptal.
  2. Toptal offers different types of freelance talent – developers, designers, and financial specialists. That being said, the platform is not specifically focused on highly skilled developers, instead, it offers a broad variety of different freelancers. In the majority of cases, especially in the software development world, it’s better to work with field-experts who are focused on one type of service.
  3. Even top freelancers are still freelancers. You should keep this in mind. Freelancers are individuals who have decided to leave long-term careers and stable jobs for a life of freedom, self-management, and the ability to work when and how they want. This all may drastically impact your product chances for success. In addition to that, they mostly work from home, often without a proper cyber-security environment. And if they go down with a cold, for example, there is no project manager to notify you. On top of all of that, most freelancers work on multiple projects simultaneously, sometimes fitting too many projects into their schedule, simply because they want to earn more.

Now, let’s talk switch the focus of this Toptal review to when it’s appropriate to use Toptal.

When to use Toptal

Generally speaking, companies will first engage Toptal during the later part of the project planning phase. This way they are able to put together their team of programmers, designers, finance experts so that it is ready for when the project starts.

Companies frequently look to undertake projects such as in-house software development to streamline internal processes or to expand or diversify their business models.

Adaptation is at the very core of today’s global business environment, so in order to stay ahead of the competition, companies need to be able to change fast.

The task of creating a simple eCommerce website can involve scores of developers should the site require multiple features and a complex UI design. Since companies only employ full-time staff to handle day to day operations, they are unable to undertake such projects without hiring new staff.

Freelance outsource platforms such as Toptal allow companies to employ skilled specialists on a temporary basis to undertake the projects that they don’t have the manpower to do otherwise.

Once a project is complete, they will sign off on the project and the contract is effectively terminated unless the company decides to continue development of additional versions or features, etc.

Because Toptal has freelancers all over the world, pricing can vary quite significantly depending on where your freelancer comes from. Toptal sales managers usually work with you to find the right developer for your project. Typically, pricing falls into the following ranges:

According to Toptal’s website, pricing is as follows:

Developer:

  • Hourly: $60-$95+/hour
  • Part-time: $1,000-$1,600+/week
  • Full-time: $2,000-$3,200+/week

(Note: Companies are required to place a $500 deposit if they wish to hire talent)

You need to make sure you have enough skills in project and team management to work with developers from Toptal. After all, you will end up hiring several individuals who may never have worked together before.

Since Toptal is unlikely to address all your development needs, it’s time to consider other options. That’s where we come to the Toptal competitors.

Toptal Alternatives: Comparison Chart

Parameters Toptal
Community Freelance developers, designers, financial specialists
Main Focus Development, design, finance
Dedicated Account Manager No
Data Driven Agile Process No
Daily project updates By request
Weekly project updates No
Parameters Upwork
Community All sort of freelancers
Main Focus
Dedicated Account Manager No
Data Driven Agile Process No
Daily project updates By request
Weekly project updates No
Parameters Arc (CodementorX)
Community Freelance developers
Main Focus Software consulting
Dedicated Account Manager No
Data Driven Agile Process No
Daily project updates By request
Weekly project updates No
Parameters Gigster
Community Freelance developers
Main Focus Development
Dedicated Account Manager Yes
Data Driven Agile Process No
Daily project updates By request
Weekly project updates Yes
Parameters DevTeam.Space
Community Field-expert development teams
Main Focus Development and support of complex software products
Dedicated Account Manager Yes
Data Driven Agile Process Yes
Daily project updates Automated bitesize updates with roadblock tracking
Weekly project updates Data-driven project performance reports

Thankfully, there are numerous competitors out there that are competing with Toptal in the wider software development industry.

In order to show you the best alternatives to Toptal, it is a good idea to compare them to their closest competitors. Let’s start this segment of this Toptal review with Upwork.

Toptal vs Upwork

Upwork is one of the world’s largest and oldest freelance platforms. Previously known as oDesk, the site underwent a massive revamp after it merged with Elance a few years ago. The platform is now the go-to freelancer website as it operates as a marketplace for freelancers of all skills and professions.

The Upwork model is a standoff approach, which means that developers are connected to clients, after which clients are entirely responsible for the vetting, hiring, and implementing management processes, etc.

Like Toptal, Upwork hosts both hourly and per-project payment options.

Unlike Toptal, however, Upwork allows freelancers with entry-level experience to become part of its active community, something which increases the chance of snapping up developers for less money.

However, this also increases the chance of problems relating to inexperienced developers. The chance of property theft is also higher.

Freelancers tend to avoid using Upwork as their main source of work due to the platform’s exorbitant 20% fees. Toptal doesn’t deduct fees from freelancers but rather charge a higher rate, from which they pay their freelancers a set rate.

Upwork gained its stature because it was among the first to offer companies the chance to hire remote workers. However, this doesn’t guarantee the quality of their freelancers, nor does the platform offer much in the way of management help or tools either. Both of these factors will be a deep concern to client companies.

Toptal vs X-Team

Launched back in 2006, X-Team provides developers to companies that are looking to scale their existing teams. The company has no head office as work is done 100% remotely by staff as well as its freelancers.

The platform claims to provide motivated developers who undertake remote development work. It places its freelancers in direct contact with the client company and lets them get on with it. It does not offer project managers.

X-Team works to guarantee the quality of its developers by insisting that they pass a verification process when they first join the company. This includes a test project which must be completed to the company’s satisfaction before the freelancer is accepted.

The platform also offers incentives to help developers improve their skill sets. The X-Academy was devised to allow developers to work on internal projects under supervision in order to improve their skills.

If you are simply looking to on-board unmanaged team members, then X-Team is an option, however, it is not the best one.

Toptal vs Arc (Formally CodementorX)

Arc’s business model is very similar to Toptal in many ways. It offers the chance for companies to access vetted freelancers through its platform. Arc promises to match companies with relevant software engineers within 72 hours and charge companies on an hourly or weekly rate.

Its approach follows the stand-off model to the extent that Arc offers no managerial oversight or tools to client companies other than a daily checkup with developers by their director of technology. If your project requires several frontend reviews, they will assign a non-technical in-house team to try to help.

One key area where Arc has an advantage over Toptal is that they offer a code vetting service. For an additional fee, Arc will review your code with a set of freelancers who promise to identify bad code or bugs.

In addition to this, Arc will pair company developers with expert mentors and training coaches. The aim of this service is to school client-side developers on how to write better code to improve the products they create.

While companies will benefit from Arc’s singular focus on software development, the platform falls short by offering little in the way of day to day project management. Companies who think they may benefit from Arc’s code reviews may prefer this to Toptal, however, for those who require the safety of agile project management, Arc falls short.

Also deeply concerning is the company’s recent change of name, something which implies that the company might not be doing as well as it would like.

Toptal vs Gigster

Gigster has one unique selling point when compared to freelance development platforms like Toptal.

While the platform matches clients with developers in the same way, it differs in that Gigster assigns a project manager to oversee project development. The client only communicates with the project manager throughout the process. Toptal does not offer this service.

Given this added level of responsibility, the cost of using Gigster to develop a project is higher than using Toptal. Gigster offers a price estimation service that can be found on its website. Companies need to beware that this is an automated service, so the actual price can vary quite significantly.

For complex projects or for those companies without the required development experience, Gigster might be a better choice than Toptal.

However, Gigster still lacks a refined agile development process that streamlines the development process and keeps the client informed on a daily basis as to how things are really progressing.

Toptal vs DevTeam.Space

While Toptal has its strengths, it doesn’t offer a comprehensive solution for all types of software development projects.

Since Toptal’s developers are not hired full-time by the platform, they remain freelancers and bring to the table all the issues associated with hiring freelancers, i.e., other commitments, unaccountability in regards to intellectual property protection, chance they will abandon the project mid-development, etc.

DevTeam.Space was created to solve all the problems that arise from outsourcing development work.

DevTeam.Space is a data-driven agile software development platform. Unlike Toptal, DevTeam.Space is exclusively centered on software development.

Through our platform, you can hire individual managed developers, managed field expert development teams, or just outsource your entire project to us to develop.

Our developers are not freelancers but work full-time with us.

Depending on a client’s business stage or requirements, we can easily scale from an individual developer to a team of 100s of engineers in a very short period of time.

The best part is that we guarantee the work of our developers, so if you are not 100% happy, you don’t need to pay.

At DevTeam.Space, you’re matched with the most relevant field-expert developers or development teams according to your requirements.

The project management process is Agile-based and overseen by a dedicated account manager As a part of the process, your tech account manager and tech project manager (provided with teams) will be there to provide comprehensive development support.

Check out DevTeam.Space’s customers‘ feedback here.

During the project development process, you receive daily bite-size updates and weekly performance reports so that you are on-top of exactly where your project is at any given moment.

Learn more about the DevTeam.Space process here.

As you can see, DevTeam.Space is better prepared to help companies reach their goals.

We have designed our model to make it fit every kind of project, from a simple WordPress-based site to a large cross-platform app project.

By offering this complete package, the DevTeam.Space takes away all the stress and time-consuming effort that goes with complex product development, meaning you can focus on the more important parts of the project development process.

Several of our past clients have called DevTeam.Space the AWS of software development. Want to find out why? Simply submit your project requirements to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Toptal is a freelancer software development platform that aims to connect businesses with software engineers. The entire company is operated remotely and has no head office.

While the company vets all its software developers and claims to only hire the top 3%, Toptal offers little in terms of project management assistance or tools. Project managers must be hired separately. This can be a huge drawback for certain types of companies. Toptal’s service has received mixed reviews from customers.

Toptal offers freelance software developers for a wide range of software projects. The company claims to have freelancers who are expert in all the major tech stacks.

DevTeam.Space is a vetted community of expert dev teams supported by an AI-powered agile process.

Companies like Samsung, Airbus, NEC, and startups rely on us to build great online products. We can help you too, by helping you to hire and effortlessly manage expert developers.