Drinkster scales up through Outsourced Tech

Editor’s note: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Elance.

I wish Drinkster was active in Helsinki. This Danish startup offers cheap deals on drinks through a neat little SMS system that benefits the customer, the bar and Drinkster itself. The problem is that right now they are only in Denmark. They will start operating in Romania in the next few months, with some other countries in mind over the course of 2014, but no word on Finland yet. Until then we Helsinki folks can only look on jealously.

The idea for Drinkster came from seeing a similar service set up in the USA. Founders Henrik Lysgaard Jensen, Mads Schjølin and Mads Lund brought the idea back to Denmark and within six months had launched the website, a further six months later saw two mobile apps brought out as well.

What the website, and the subsequent apps, allow a user to do is to select an offer from a wide range of bars, pubs and nightclubs, pay for it, and then receive an SMS code that they then have three months to redeem. It’s really a great solution for all three parties as the customer gets cheap drinks, the bar gets paid early, and Drinkster take a small cut to facilitate the transaction. As we covered in our previous article, serial investor Casper Bloom put his money into the company back in December.

We talked to Mads Schjølin recently to learn more about Drinkster and how they’ve got as far as they have so far. One of the first things we discovered was that Drinkster uses outsourcing, namely – Elance, for its needs and leans heavily upon a team in India to handle all of their coding. Mads sees their relationship with contractors a little differently though from what you might expect. He tells us, “We use them for all our programming. We have two programmers dedicated to Drinkster, so in a sense it’s not outsourcing, it’s almost as if they work for us, just in a different location.”

As they have scaled up the number of cities in Denmark they operate in, and correspondingly increased the number of bars, clubs and pubs they work with, they have not encountered any difficulties. Mads attributes this to the scalable platform they have built. In fact it seems he’s been so impressed with the work of his ‘Indian team’ that even when Drinkster grows big enough to justify bringing the programming work in house, he anticipates keeping his outsourcers around.

“It’s a good way to get started with an IT startup cheaply.” Mads’ praise did come with a word of caution though, “However, it is critical that someone on the local team has IT skills. In our case, that’s me – I’ve been programming myself and have a deep understanding of requirements analysis and specification. Without those skills, it would never have worked with outsourcing.”

No small startup comes with all the skills necessary to build world class apps, websites and content, but using outsourcing companies like Elance to draw in what’s missing, supported by the knowledge and experience in the team can lead to success. Just as Drinkster are demonstrating. Now if only they’d start offering deals in Helsinki…

This post is part of a series of posts, sponsored by Elance.

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