The cost of tech work around the world has been steadily rising, and building your team in the right market could have a real impact on your runway and the rest of your budget.

We all know made in America is everyone’s preferred solution in the US, but for those starting, it’s not always an option. Many local engineers get a 6-figure first job right out of college, and the more senior ones can quickly score 500k/y in large tech companies. Let’s explore various markets and see how you can work around that

The different markets of tech workers

While there is a lot of similarities in tech work by continent, there’s also a lot of nuance and differences. Workers in western europe charge drastically more than workers in eastern europe. Brazilian workers who speak fluent english will charge significantly more than those who don’t (2-3x). Keep those differences in mind when building your team.

USA, the gold standard

Good for well funded companies
Cash cost/year $80k-$250k+
Equity cost/year $0-$1M+

For many, the US tech market has been the gold standard for a long time, and it is not surprising why. Many of the most successful tech companies are from the United States, and there is a certain savoir-faire from the west coast that continues to breed success. Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, Meta, Oracle etc… all followed similar software development methodology to reach their fame. Engineers in these companies are very well positioned to reproduce the success of their previous employer in your venture. This high quality work however comes at a cost: it is among the most expensive tech labor in the world. This cost can be negligible for companies generating enormous profits, but can make it difficult for smaller players to leverage prior to raising significant funding.

Latin America, where US startups should look

Good for American startups looking to build an affordable team in a similar timezone
Cash cost/year $20k-$80k+
Equity cost/year $0-$100k+

While Latin America is huge, most countries’ timezones heavily overlap with the US. Combined with lower labor cost, it makes it the first market US startups who are trying to remain conservative with their expenses should look. These countries are filled with talented developers, many of which already worked with American companies and can speak various levels of English. While it would take me 23h to fly to Buenos Aires, there’s only a 4h time difference from where I live, keeping communication at all time of day possible. This makes it my favorite market to build a remote team for a US startup.

India, affordability at a cost

Good for companies that can run development asynchronously
Cash cost/year $20k-$80k+
Equity cost/year $0-$50k+

In the major tech labor markets, India is certainly among the cheapest. Tech companies all around the world have been outsourcing their work to the Asian continent for decades, creating an unprecedented amount of qualified labor at a very affordable price. The English language is also baked into the Indian society which often make communication easy and straightforward. While talents are numerous, you will also find numerous low quality dev shops there which will make you rethink your trust in humankind. Nightmare experiences are frequent when getting connected to the wrong people there, and you can expect business owners to lie to you about who’s even doing the work. Additionally, the time difference (10-14h) can create a constant stagger between a decision and the work being done. When going in this market, build a team around a trusted individual or company. Maybe make a trip there to meet the people you want to work with before committing.

Europe, the silver standard

Good for companies with some funding looking for outstanding talents and are willing to deal with timezone differences
Cash cost/year $40k-$100k+
Equity cost/year $0-$100k+

Working with Europeans companies will make you wonder why many companies in this market don’t reach the success of their American counterpart. Most times, it comes down to one thing: access to capital. Capital is what allows US companies to grow and scale quickly, and it impacts how labor is used to work. You will however find very talented engineers all over Europe at highly variable cost. Eastern Europe tends to be a lot cheaper, and western Europe has more experience being directly embedded in the tech world. Overall, Europe is cheaper than the US for similar talents. You will however deal with timezone differences (7-10 hours) making collaboration delayed. Europe has a lot more labor laws than other markets so make sure to look into that before pulling the trigger.

Africa, the secret gem

Good for european startups looking to build an affordable team in a similar timezone
Cash cost/year $20k-$60k+
Equity cost/year $0-$100k+

Africa is the continent no-one really talks about in tech. That is despite the fact that the tech scene is increasingly interesting and creative there, and that more CS engineers come out of universities as ever. While you will not find talents everywhere, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa are among the top countries that top tech workers come out of on the continent. For founders in Europe, there is a real opportunity to cut your early costs while working with a team in the same timezone as yours. With tech going remote, you can expect Africa to be the place the next generation of founders will be looking at.


There are other places you can look. Many talented developers are now nomads living in different countries and are well versed at working with US companies and adapting to their timezones while offering more competitive rates than US workers. Be open, talk to people, figure out what you company needs and what you can afford. Some companies go full remote and have team members all around the globe. Other can’t work out the time differences and prefer to have more overlap in their work hours. Looking to build a team? I can help .