5 Best Toptal Alternatives For Hiring Developers [2021]

Toptal is a freelance platform present in the market for over 11 years now. By the time when Toptal was founded, the entire industry of freelance marketplaces wasn’t even near as crowded as it is now. [ Toptal Alternatives ]

Back in 2010, Toptal offers an innovation that no one else on the market had: the vetting process. And this was the innovation that employers wanted.

Before Toptal, the public was mostly using the classic bidding freelance marketplaces: the clients would list their projects among dozens of others, and the freelancers would apply to be hired for those gigs. Placing the various bids for which they are ready to complete the task.

Such platforms have their pros and cons: on one hand, those generic freelance platforms were quickly gaining popularity among freelancers, and as the supply of the working force grew. So did the competition lower the average rates and make the services more affordable.

On the other hand, with the hourly rates going down, the overall job success rates also started declining. Freelancers with higher professional levels wouldn’t want to compete with the prices offered by their less skillful competitors.

At the same time, generic freelance websites didn’t offer any guarantees, real client protection, or effective verification processes. This makes choosing the right vendor for their clients even more difficult.

So, when Toptal came out with the vetting process, which includes inside client-freelancer matching algorithms, and client support. Everyone started valuing their time over the cheap rate offered by unverified freelancers.

In this article, you’ll find a list of top-5 Toptal alternatives along with our perspectives on why you should or should not choose to work with them instead of Toptal.

But if you already know what you’re looking for, and that thing is a place that offers Toptal -quality at or up to 50% more affordable rates. We suggest you save the time you’d spend on reading the article and hope on a 15-minute call with us right now. This is the way, we could match you with a perfect candidate by this time tomorrow.

What Distinguishes Toptal Competitors?

As it often happens in the tech world, the market goes from admiration to see the weak spots, that could be improved, quite fast. The same thing happened with freelancing platforms.

The main problem with Toptal was the narrow focus on big corporates orders and booming startups. Not that it’s a problem as it is — nothing’s wrong with that. Unless, of course, you’re looking to hire a vetted freelance developer for a small business, or a bootstrapping digital agency, and don’t have extra money to pay for the brand.

As the benefits provided by Toptal take them high in the existing competition. The cost of the service is high as the quality they were providing.

Fortunately for the businesses who couldn’t afford Toptal, it has been quickly discovered, that it is indeed possible to match the clients with qualified freelance professionals at rates much lower than Toptal’s. So this boosts the ranking and requirement of the Toptal.

Of course, not all of the alternatives to Toptal are the same. However, the good ones can be determined based on the following 4 criteria:

  1. Multiple-step vetting process
  2. Fixed hourly rates, no bidding system
  3. Focused on one to five professions
  4. They offer lower prices and welcome small projects

How To Choose The Best Toptal Alternative?

Judging from our experience, 80% of the clients during their search for alternatives to Toptal, hope to find a freelance talent vendor who is able to provide the same-level professionals at the lower price points.

Here are the four main reasons why employers are finding the website like Toptal:

  1. Their scope of development tasks is not big enough for Toptal
  2. The service doesn’t manage to find a developer fast
  3. They were not satisfied with the services provided by the person they hire from Toptal
  4. One has to pay a $500 upfront deposit before getting a developer assigned scares them off

So, if you’re looking for better Toptal alternatives to hire a freelance developer. We recommend focussing on the companies with the following features and benefits:

  1. On-point vetting process
  2. Their talent pool is mainly developers
  3. Fast matching — within hours for small tasks and common frameworks, within a week for full-time or long-term positions
  4. Hourly rates within your budget, but not suspiciously cheap
  5. No payments before you’re matched with the freelancer that suits your needs
  6. They work on projects of all sizes
  7. Positive reputation and feedback on trusted review websites and social media
  8. Non-bidding pricing system
  9. Live support team

So let’s take a look at the top-5 most popular Toptal alternatives or competitors and analyze whether they’re worth giving a try.

FeaturesLemon.ioUpworkGigsterGun.ioFreelancer
Vetting
Talent poolDevelopers,
Web Designers,
QA engineers
GenericDevelopers,
Project managers
DevelopersGeneric
Matching algorithm
Prices$$$ – $$$$$$$$$$$$ – $$
Time to start project
Project scalesAny sizeSmallEnterpriseMid & large
scale projects
Small
Client reviews
Customer support

1. Lemon.io

Lemon.io - Toptal alternatives

Lemon is a non-bidding freelance marketplace that helps you hire freelance developers on-demand. This freelance platform has been on the market for over three years, providing clients with access to the most talented developers from Eastern Europe. Lemon was previously known as CodingNinjas, it is well known as one of the best Toptal alternatives.

Focused on improving vetting and matching systems, Lemon.io has been able to provide the best-suited programmers to more than 500 startups and gain the reputation of a transparent and reliable partner.

Comparing Lemon.io vs Toptal, the obvious difference would be the size of the company and talent network, as a result. Size matters — no doubt. But being big doesn’t equal being better. Compared to Toptal, Lemon offers customers a faster matching and feedback. Treats every project, no matter how big or small, with the same personal approach on every stage. Also, Lemon offers free project estimation, to get a free quote on your task.

On average, Lemon is able to offer up to 50% lower hourly rates connecting clients to professionals with the same or better coding skills.

Here’s 5 other facts that speak Lemon.io the most:

  1. 98.6% of the projects assigned to developers are delivered on time and according to initial requirements.
  2. 90% of the new clients are satisfied with the very first candidate Lemon matches them with.
  3. 84% of new projects get matched to the right candidates within 24 hours.
  4. 97% of the first-year clients still work with Lemon after more than 3 years.
  5. Customers review Lemon.io at 9.4 out of 10 on Trustpilot, and 4.9 out of 5 on G2Crowd. Both rankings are the top scores among all the freelance platforms reviews.

Lemon.io has recently started to also provide the customer’s access to verified and trusted web designers and QA engineers, striving to become a one-stop solution for digital businesses relying on freelancers.

2. Upwork

UpWork - Toptal Alternatives

It wouldn’t be fair not to include one of the biggest and most popular freelance websites on this list. Meanwhile, is it fair to compare Toptal vs Upwork?

As both the platforms have completely different business models?

Let’s analyze!

Upwork is known as the go-to website for hiring freelancers for all sorts of work: developers, copywriters, designers, or data-entry virtual assistants — you name it. Another significant difference is that, unlike Toptal or Lemon.io, Upwork has a bidding system.

So, if you’re looking for a freelance developer, for example, instead of just submitting your task and being automatically assigned a professional who has the skills and experience to complete your project, you will have to go through dozens of applications from all the freelancers who are interested and you gig and figure out which one of them would be the right fit. Since they are free to set their own prices, it’s likely that the min and max bids will significantly differ.

As we’ve said earlier on, such a system has its’ positive side — you may get lucky and hire a decent professional at a lower budget. On the contrary, you’d have to spend much more time and effort going through applications, CVs, interviews, and still, you’re not guaranteed to get the on-time delivery.

Another advantage of Toptal vs Upwork is that with the platforms that have a vetting process and fair rates for freelancers, you’re protected from the frauds common within the generic bidding marketplaces like Upwork. One of the most frequent fraud schemes you should keep in mind is that often when hiring a freelance developer you may bump into fake accounts which in reality serve as avatars for low-quality dev shops.

In these scenarios, you may be presented with fake portfolios and speak to one of their senior developers while in reality your project will be completed by someone with much lower code quality.

If the money factor is decisive for your case, and you’re going to be choosing Upwork vs Toptal based on this criterion, we encourage you to take some time to learn how to vet your developer on your own.

3. Gigster

Gigster - Toptal Alternatives

Gigster is another a much closer fit to be on the list of Toptal competitors. And just as Toptal, they’re not the best fit for smaller projects or standalone tasks.

They’ve taken the matching process one step further than other Toptal like platforms: instead of providing clients with developers on-demand. They use an AI-based matching algorithm to gather a whole team of developers led by a project manager.

Thus, you, as a client not only won’t have any control over accepting or declining the specific developers as team members, you won’t even get to know them since the only person you’re going to communicate with is going to be the assigned project manager.

After all, Gigster’s main promise is to help enterprises build software solutions with the speed of a startup. And their prices reflect exactly the speed, quality, and scale of the projects they work with.

Of course, their exact hourly rates differ depending on the type of work you’re hiring for, but we believe it’s enough to say that they don’t take on gigs with budgets under $150000 which can be seen on their application form.

After all, if you’re considering choosing Gigster vs Toptal for an enterprise-level project. We believe they may turn out a better solution for you based on the fact that unlike Toptal, they fully commit to their responsibility for the final outcome of the project.

4. Gun.io

Gun.io - Toptal alternatives

Gun.io is one of the smaller Toptal competitors. But nevertheless, the quality of work they deliver makes significant enough to make it on the list of the top-rated Toptal alternatives.

Gun is a likewise website to Toptal and offers only software engineers to its clients. And does not wish to expand their services for now.

Since they’re on the smaller scale customers who have tried both services. And can compare Gun.io vs Toptal based on their own experience, often point out that Gun is able to offer both better customer support and faster matching.

On the other hand, Gun may still not be the right fit for standalone projects or small businesses with occasional development tasks. The platform is focused on providing a targeted engineering reinforcement for high tech businesses. And claims that the company was built for engineers by engineers.

With Gun, you get what you pay, for small businesses too. This means you may be hiring a significantly overqualified and paying times more than you should.

Also, if you’re looking to hire for mid to large size projects, both Lemon.io and Gun should be worth attention, while the second option is likely to cost you 50-60% more.

5. Freelancer

Freelancer - Toptal alternatives

Another best Toptal alternative is Freelancer. We don’t believe that it’s 100% fair to compare Freelancer.com vs Toptal as a righteous alternative. But still, we felt we should provide the information for people who want to consider them.

So, same as Upwork, Freelancer differs from Toptal on these major points:

  1. It’s a generic marketplace for all possible professions
  2. Freelancers don’t go through any significant vetting or verification
  3. It’s a bidding marketplace
  4. No matching algorithm
  5. Competition for the projects among freelancers is enormous

In addition, according to the reviews on G2crowd and Trustpilot, Freelancer.com offers poor customer support and doesn’t hold any responsibility for the failed projects and missed deadlines.

Conclusion –

Hope you find the article on Toptal alternatives useful. You can find decent developers on the platform. But unlike Toptal, Lemon, or Gun, Freelancer doesn’t make your hiring process easier.

You’ll have to go through the proposals and profiles on your own, interview the candidates and micromanage their work to ensure your project is going to be delivered on time.

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