lready it is up to 35 staff and the company expects the facility to be full by September. Although the cost of the staff is around 25 to 30 per cent cheaper than in London, Betfair said the main reason for setting up in Romania was to tap into extra skills and resources.
Eachan Fletcher, Director of Betfair development in Romania, said there is so much work on the company’s product roadmap that decisions were having to be made on what couldn’t be done.
He told silicon.com: "We just didn’t have the capacity to deliver all of it. It makes no sense to stick another 200 developers in London. We have almost reached a critical mass. You have to attract them away from city banks and it is costly and takes a long time."
Betfair looked at various countries including China, India and the Ukraine but opted for Romania because of the high-quality skills available, its relatively untapped potential as an offshore location and its recent EU membership.
Fletcher said: "It’s virgin territory we were looking for. It’s not stupidly cheap but it is cost-effective. We compared lots of locations. Many were cheaper but didn’t have the quality versus investment you put in."
Betfair also decided to build and run the Romanian offshore facility itself rather than outsource it to a third party - and chose to locate it in the city of Cluj-Napoca. In February silicon.com’s Steve Ranger visited the Indian tech hotspots of Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad. Click on the links below to see photo galleries of the cities and companies visited.
He said: "One of the strengths of Betfair is culture and the way we work as a team and we already have a well-oiled machine for setting up offices overseas. It is important for us to maintain control over the technical output, culture and work environment."
Some of the skills Betfair is tapping into in Romania include Microsoft .Net and SQL, Java and specialist areas such as mobile driver development. Fletcher said: "The quality of the people is really high. They have a fantastic university [Babes Bolyai] and they have a really great engineering programme. They are of the calibre of the guys in London."
Unlike many offshore software development centres the Betfair staff in Romania won’t just be doing the boring ’grunt’ work. Fletcher said they will be working on a new sporting platform, the booming poker and gaming products and support for the mobile platform.
But setting up in a relatively undeveloped offshore location such as Romania also comes with its challenges, particularly around employment law, accounting practices and setting up legal entities.
The language barrier also wasn’t an issue for Betfair, with many of the university courses taught in English. Fletcher said: "It’s stilting my efforts to learn Romanian. We never had a communication barrier and this makes a difference."
Betfair said it will continue to expand the Romanian facility in blocks of 50 people in line with product roadmap demand.