Valerian Gegidze: How to Hire and Manage Tech Talent Remotely
Over the past five years, Valerian Gegidze and his team have built not only a digital solutions agency for tech and marketing with Gegidze, but it has also become the go-to place for staff augmentation, employer of record and everything around hiring and managing tech talent in the Caucasus region and nearby countries.
Employing tech talent in nearby countries rather than distant offshore locations, called nearshoring, comes with several advantages, such as similar time zones, ease of travel, and cultural similarities, making communication and collaboration more convenient while offering cost-saving benefits to businesses.
We’re excited to start working together with Gegidze. For this article, I had the pleasure of speaking with Valerian about why he started Gegidze, tips & insights for employing remote talent, and what trends he’s currently observing. Let’s dive in.
Why Did You Start Gegidze?
I started the agency in 2017, initially to support local clients on tech, operations, and marketing. When I moved to Berlin in 2019 to expand beyond my home country, Georgia, one of our clients, an e-commerce company, struggled to find team members. Back then, few people worked remotely, but I told them to look at Georgia because of its great and affordable talent.
Within one week, we suggested candidates for their open positions, and they hired all of them. This early traction signaled to us that we were on to something, and despite only a few companies hiring remotely, we got into staff augmentation. Then Covid-19 hit and changed everything.
While the market stood still for a few months, everyone suddenly realized that they had to go remote and change how they worked – and we were ready to catch the remote work wave. Starting in Berlin, we worked with clients internationally and expanded our talent pool to over 16 countries, covering various tech, marketing, and operations roles.
A lot came from listening to our clients and following their needs. That’s when we realized what a huge problem talent shortage is globally, especially in IT, whether it’s frontend, backend, or DevOps. Doing dozens of interviews with professionals for our talent pool, talking to many potential clients, and attending various conferences, we built a talent pool of the industry’s best experts from Georgia and the Caucasus region – with lots of Georgian passion and German structure.
What Should Startups Keep in Mind When Hiring Remotely?
Early on in your startup journey, you definitely have an advantage if everyone is in the same room. Get all your co-founders and early employees together – being in an office helps to build team chemistry and culture. Yet, once you’re expanding the team beyond a handful of people, it makes sense to start looking into hiring remote talent. Many tasks can be done remotely just as efficiently, and some even better, like coding, when there are no interruptions.
Remote hiring is not limited to contractors. We have seen many businesses succeed with in-house remote teams. Just don’t go too far regarding time zones – more than a three-hour time difference really becomes a stretch. Georgia is only two hours from Central Europe, so that’s a significant advantage.
That way founders structure the hiring process and interviews says a lot about the company. As talent is scarce today, founders also need to sell their companies. Their job is to build a product and form the team that builds the product. Great founders focus on identifying talent, vision, and culture fit. They may also test skills, but much more important is understanding a person’s mindset. People can learn any skill as needed, and jobs evolve, especially in young businesses, so hire for passion, vision, and team fit.
As founders, we sometimes spend more than ten hours a day building every single aspect of our business and doing all the tasks ourselves before handing them off to an employee. By then, we know the tasks inside out, how long they take, and how difficult they are. So, we hire someone only if we know we truly need that person to complete the tasks. And we can evaluate their work as we’ve been doing the tasks previously. This is not to judge them but rather to figure out how to support them best.
As employees work remotely, one of the many challenges is to align on workloads. On the one extreme, employees are bored out or work multiple jobs simultaneously. On the other extreme, they’re overloaded with work and burnout – and neither is good!
Some companies address this issue by meticulously controlling every second of their employees, tracking screen time, and micromanaging them. That’s not our philosophy. We grant lots of trust and freedom to our employees early on. We aim to keep them happy as happy employees do their best work! And we don’t micromanage – we just care that tasks are done with the deadline.
Hiring is all about building a good working relationship. If it’s too transactional, you don’t get good team chemistry. At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind as a manager that you’re building a team, not a family. You can’t choose who your family is, but your job is to build a great team of passionate people with great skills to change the world!
It is important to be able to rely on each other, to be consistent and loyal, but not to show too much emotion. Working with friends has been one of my worst experiences, as the friendship brings additional emotional barriers, especially if the working relationship is not working out and thus is also ruining the friendship. But if you work together with someone professionally for a long time, you develop a different kind of friendship, more like loyalty and mutual sympathy that is not emotionally blind.
What’s on Your Roadmap for the Future?
We’re well-established in large European markets like Germany and the Baltics, and we’re now starting to expand more to the Nordics, the UK, and the US. We’re seeking more partners and starting to set up teams in all time zones: working with talent in Mexico and South America for clients in the US and intending to cover all of Eurasia.
Besides operational roles like recruiters, sales, customer support, and tech roles in software engineering, we’re currently seeing the greatest demand in data science and everything around processing data – from data collection to sophisticated machine learning to evaluate data. Many companies are sitting on a treasure trove of data and have realized its value but still lack the talent to process the data to harness its value.
We’ve also just launched our Tech Talent Hub, where clients can browse our talent pool, check for the skills they need, and hire them directly through our platform. As we expand our talent pool from hundreds to thousands of people, we’re opening it to the world through the talent hub.
What Advice Would You Give Founders?
Nobody knows more about the things you love the most. Listen to people, but take their advice with a grain of salt, and dare to follow your gut. Find something you love, and let it guide you. As a startup, you’re often creating something entirely new so no one else knows – like no one knew social media before the first networks came about.
We’re happy to offer Future of Computing readers an exclusive deal for hiring remote talent through Gegidze 🤗
👉 Send them a message with our code FOC10 and get access to the industry’s best experts from Georgia and the Caucasus region