What One Startup Wants from Latin America Software Builders

A software shopper who says accelerated English training is essential if firms want to be in the top tier By Robert L. Scheier Conversations about the needs of …

A software shopper who says accelerated English training is essential if firms want to be in the top tier

By Robert L. Scheier

Conversations about the needs of customers looking to “nearshore” in Latin American often focus on the Fortune 500.  But working for a startup in North America or Europe can give a nearshoring firm the credentials it needs to go after larger clients, and develop (or take advantage of) its expertise in a specific vertical market.

One example is Ted Epstein, CEO of ModelSolv, who I found at Nearshore Nexus last month scouting for a Nearshore development team to help him create modeling software for a major international bank.

The company, founded last October, now consists of Ted and two contractors, one in Paris and another in Los Angeles, and he’s looking for a creative Nearshore firm that can save him 30-50 percent on development costs.

Epstein, who worked for Morgan Stanley for ten years before striking out on his own, is developing a modeling platform that will help companies understand what data various applications need to share in an SOA (services oriented architecture) space. Currently, he says, SOA technical standards do a good job of defining the technical interfaces among applications and other components such as databases. But when it comes to the data on which those applications rely, different business units might have subtly different definitions for different terms, and that causes a lot of expensive problems when it’s time to deploy the systems.

“We’re describing the data being transferred, but not in a technical format using XML schema or traditional data models,” he says. “We’re describing them at a more conceptual level that’s more accessible to the business.”

Near term, he’s looking for “strong Java development with Google Web Toolkit experience.” Longer term, he wants Web designers and developers with social Web site development experience (since populating models requires extensive collaboration) and hard-core model-driven developers skilled with Eclipse modeling technologies.

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His next “must-haves” are curiosity and creativity, so he can develop long-term relationships with Nearshore partners and “to get them deeply involved in what we do, so they’re not limited either by their current technical skill set or a rigid process.” As both SOA technology and business needs change, he knows he’ll need to change his product and wants a partner who’s willing and able to make “course corrections” with him.

Epstein likes that with a Nearshore partner in the same time zone he can avoid the early morning and late night hand-off calls with India that make real-time coordination and cooperation difficult, especially for agile development projects that require fast turnaround of work in progress. He also likes the fact that Latin American firms “seem to be a little more creative and dynamic” than Indian firms that emphasize “formal methodologies and maturity models” that he says  emerged to allow large systems to be outsourced, and before IT teams relied so heavily on agile development and distributed teams.

On the other hand, he is finding that in some cases, the language barrier is still a bar to using Nearshore firms. “I think the companies that are going to be the most successful in getting the U.S. Nearshore market are the ones that do a good job with accelerated English training,” he says.

Epstein, who hopes to have a limited version of the product for the bank in June and a commercial version early next year, can be reached at ted.epstein@modesolv.com.

 

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