Whiz Kids Help ASP Race To Market | Article

National KeyboardLarry Moore was at a movie one Friday night when his cell phone vibrated. U.S. Immigration officers were calling the president and CEO of SourceGate Systems Inc. in Burlington, Massachusetts. They had detained a young Bulgarian who claimed he had traveled to the U.S. to write code for Moore’s company.

The CEO placated the immigration officials. The programmer was a whiz kid from whizcom, an outsourcing supplier located in Sofia, Bulgaria, whom he had hired as his outsourcing vendor. “The Bulgarians have overcome phenomenal hurdles” in their quest to become an offshore supplier, he says.

SourceGate provides services to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to help them develop an additional revenue source. The start-up allows them to tap into the growing flow of advertising revenue on the Internet.

SourceGate’s timing couldn’t have been better. Currently, free ISPs and big brands like America Online (AOL) and Microsoft Network (MSN) are eroding the Internet access dollars that have been the financial heartbeat of the traditional ISPs. Now these established companies are looking for new sources of revenue.

In addition, SourceGate’s program helps the ISPs create a brand recognition using its “PowerBar.” ISPs can customize the bar to appeal to their specific end users.

Currently SourceGate, operating as an Application Service Provider (ASP), is in its pre-launch stage. Outsourcing part of the programming was crucial to allow the PowerBar to power up and hit the market as soon as possible, according to Moore.

Turning to Eastern Europe for Help

“We were faced with a shortage of hard-to-find skills. But there are locations were there are no shortages,” says Moore. The CEO was tired of competing with other start-ups for talent, so he turned to eastern Europe to solve his people problem. “The reputation is that the Bulgarians are the brightest of the eastern bloc developers,” says Moore. Bulgarians have won the world math championship for a number of years, he points out. The suppliers met when they attended school in the Bulgarian capital that was an extension of the University of Maine. They formed whizcom shortly thereafter.

Since November, 1999, two whizcom coders work in Sofia, Bulgaria and a third is stationed on site at the suburban Boston office, working alongside SourceGate’s own staff.

Moore is a cheerleader for offshore outsourcing. He began his association with the programmers at whizcom when the CEO was a consultant completing another assignment. Not only was he impressed with the Bulgarians’ talent, he was very appreciative of their competitive rates. He reports he is receiving “high quality work for up to one-eighth the cost” of what he would have to pay U.S programmers.

In addition, they had sophisticated project management skills. “I was impressed with their software development practices,” says Moore. Whizcom has its own Web site which is designed to help the two partners located two continents apart work together. Moore can check activity logs daily, for example.

These rigors made the distance between Burlington and Bulgaria virtually meaningless. “Distance was not an issue because they have developed a tool set” to work remotely, he reports. Language was not a barrier, either, since the eastern Europeans speak “perfect” English, having studied at a branch of an American university where all the classes were conducted in English.

Turning to Eastern Europe for Help

“We were faced with a shortage of hard-to-find skills. But there are locations were there are no shortages,” says Moore. The CEO was tired of competing with other start-ups for talent, so he turned to eastern Europe to solve his people problem. “The reputation is that the Bulgarians are the brightest of the eastern bloc developers,” says Moore. Bulgarians have won the world math championship for a number of years, he points out. The suppliers met when they attended school in the Bulgarian capital that was an extension of the University of Maine. They formed whizcom shortly thereafter.

Since November, 1999, two whizcom coders work in Sofia, Bulgaria and a third is stationed on site at the suburban Boston office, working alongside SourceGate’s own staff.

Moore is a cheerleader for offshore outsourcing. He began his association with the programmers at whizcom when the CEO was a consultant completing another assignment. Not only was he impressed with the Bulgarians’ talent, he was very appreciative of their competitive rates. He reports he is receiving “high quality work for up to one-eighth the cost” of what he would have to pay U.S programmers.

In addition, they had sophisticated project management skills. “I was impressed with their software development practices,” says Moore. Whizcom has its own Web site which is designed to help the two partners located two continents apart work together. Moore can check activity logs daily, for example.

These rigors made the distance between Burlington and Bulgaria virtually meaningless. “Distance was not an issue because they have developed a tool set” to work remotely, he reports. Language was not a barrier, either, since the eastern Europeans speak “perfect” English, having studied at a branch of an American university where all the classes were conducted in English.


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