First, the elephant in the room

I lead a software development agency (Filip Kubala here đź‘‹)
So you might think the whole article will end up with – ‘…select TH-EY anyway’.
But it won’t.
I’ll do my best to make the process of selecting an IT services provider at least slightly easier – that’s my goal.

P.S. My company has been on Clutch since 2017. We developed our profile from 2 freelance developers, to a 30+ people agency. I’ve seen from the inside, how this platform was changing, I’ve tested free, paid and sponsored options – this is a kind of knowledge, you won’t see from the surface.


A word about Clutch itself

We are talking about
Websites like these gather the companies, catalogue them and make it easier to browse, preview and compare.
This one, in particular, focuses on the B2B firms around IT.

What are the pros and cons of using Clutch as a starting point?

You have tons of companies in 1 placeTons of companies to browse through
You can filter and search them any way you want, also by the rates rangeMost companies look the same, just the logos are changing
Company profile is structured and easy to compareTo truly compare them, you have to get to their websites and read a bit more about each one of them
Reviews are there too, so you can check what experience and opinions given company hasSponsorships of any kind – you don’t know who is really in the top and who paid the most to be there

How to start searching for a company in Clutch?

Currently (April 2024) you have four main ways to go:

  • Search a company by category
  • Search a company with a standard search
  • Use Clutch AI – ChatGPT FTW.
  • Build your AI-powered project brief – AI version 2

Let’s dive deep into the details.

Search a company by category

The main menu groups all the companies into many categories – you have to know what you are looking for.
Then, when you select a given category, you can get into the companies list and filter them from any angle you prefer to.

Important note here – Results are by default sorted by the sponsored first. Which means, on the top you see the companies that paid Clutch the most, to be there.

To find the best rated, or ones with the best reputation, use different sorting straight away.

There are also Featured Providers, which can’t be skipped.

Search a company with a standard search

Same as previously, you should know what you are looking for. It is a standard free text search which can swallow everything.

But – first, it will try to find categories, profiles, and resources that match what you are looking for.

If the results are not matching what you were looking for, you can click See more results on the bottom.

Same as previously – on the top of everything, you will see the companies that pay the most to be there.

Use Clutch AI – ChatGPT FTW.

As we all know, AI is eating the World, so Clutch couldn’t stay behind.

I won’t introduce the chat for you – probably you have already been using it, but at the time I write this – it sucks.

It just returns a set of random companies, in different locations from India to the USA, with no experience in the industry I was asking for – don’t recommend.

Build your AI-powered project brief – AI version 2

A bit better approach, but to be honest – they are asking too many technical and specific questions at this stage, like what technology you want to use for your project – how can you know what’s best?

At the end of the form, you end up with a set of proposed service providers. The companies are connected directly with the answers, you have given in the form. You can submit the brief to all selected firms and wait for their response.

How NOT to shortlist the software providers found on Clutch?

I’ve seen that many companies are doing window shopping or initial research by contacting plenty of firms at once, asking for an estimation of their project. Then, based on the price, speed of responding and probably other factors, shortlist some of them.

It is some strategy, but a bad one, in my opinion.

What are you verifying this way?

  • Whose company sales team has the most spare time right now
  • Who has the lowest hourly rates (good devs are expensive these days, juniors are cheaper – remember about it)
  • Who can give a fixed price not knowing enough about the project, just to get it
  • Who has the most generic offer that can match your brief fast

So, how to overview the companies found on Clutch?

1. Profile stars && Reviews should be the first factor to consider.
Of course, the higher score the better, but I must warn about 2 things:

  • Don’t be afraid of not perfect 5 out of 5 stars companies – everyone starts somewhere, building a company is constant learning, the score might be a result of 1 unhappy client, and you’ll never know the full story.
    So 4.9, 4.8 are totally fine to consider. Moreover, here, you are sure, the scores are real.
  • And here we come to a bit more important warning.
    We get about 2–3 offers a week, of getting fake reviews for $20 – $30 each (or buying packages of 10, 20 etc.) I don’t know how good Clutch is in tracing fake reviews and how much they are fighting with it.
    But make sure that when you see a company with 123 five-star reviews, they are on the market for a decent period of time, and it’s physically possible to do so many projects.

2. Match the company size and minimal budget with your project.
You should more or less know what budget you have – if it’s $5k, $50k or $500k.
For each company (and in filters) you will find ‘Client Budget’ and ‘Employees’ characteristics.

Too small firm, that is starting, can lack of skills and experience to manage your project. The exception here are established companies intentionally small, focusing around the technology, niche, or industry and specialize in it.
Too big company, can treat you as a small client, one of 38 they currently have, and you will get some team, some manager, but it’s harder to talk about the proper relationship.

3. Services Provided, Focus, Industries, Clients

These data might tell you a bit about the company and what they are doing, but Clutch forces us to put something up to 100%. I honestly don’t know what is better – put 100% into custom software development, as this is what we do, or put fragmentation into different areas because we also do web dev, mobile dev etc.

As far as I know, companies experiment and check the results – in the end, we want to maximize traffic coming to our profiles. So it is difficult to tell how reliably you should treat this data.

What might be more important for you, are the Industries and Clients tabs – this will tell you with what size of clients they mostly work with and from what industries. These factors are also used in the filters and AI types of search.

4. Location

If the location of the company / employees matters to you, you can filter by this parameter too.
What’s significant – companies can put multiple Headquarters in there.
Like in our case, we have 2 headquarters (where the companies are formally registered) but from day 1 we work remotely.
Another scenario is the companies with 99% of employees located in India and having only sales office e.g. in London, having 2 employees in there.

5. Avg. hourly rate – the lower, the better?

I intentionally put this as a last factor to consider because it won’t tell you much about the project cost.
Some companies might hire many juniors and interns, which will make their average hourly rate low, but they lack of the experience in projects like yours – it will take a long time to build.

Other ones hire only seniors, have many internal components, libraries, built 37 projects like yours, so they will be fast in building it. You will end up with a much more reliable solution.

On the first sight, the first one will be cheaper, but when you get deeper, it might turn out, that the estimation from the second company will be lower. So don’t put too much attention on this factor.

Lastly – you might be considering fixed price vs time and material approaches. This is a topic for another article, but as a rule of thumb, in the modern software development world, agile = time and material. Otherwise, agile concepts are crushing.

6. Contact them

This is a must-have, and Clutch won’t do it for you.
At first, I wouldn’t ask for an estimation, but rather the process, contact, speed of responding, initial conversation flow, expertise etc.

Everyone can provide an estimation for you and there will be time for this, but it should not be the core factor deciding about which provider you will choose.

Make sure they can explain how they work, what will be the steps, what they think you need – jumping straight into the development is not always the best approach.

What to ask the software development provider?

  • People – who will be involved in your project, what is the usual team composition
  • Processes – how they work, why they work this way
  • Documents templates – MNDA, Contract, any extra appendixes or whatever you require
  • How they understood your project
  • What is their idea to build it
  • Experience in a similar industry / type of project
  • What is their generic approach to the technology – if they will be forcing their core stack or can adjust to your needs

How to compare companies found on Clutch?

You can use the built-in function for shortlisting the companies – you will find it both on the list and in the company profile:

This feature gets deeper and allows you to save or share the shortlisted companies, put the ratings, notes and your custom rates, based on the contacts with them.
This might be very useful, especially when there are more people involved in selecting the provider.

How to pick the best offer?

At this stage, I assume you shortlisted a couple of providers. The competition is tight.
Let’s say you like three firms. This is the moment when you had some conversations with them, you shared all the documents, designs, NDAs etc. Companies know what your project is about – probably, you also learned something during the process.

This is the moment when the estimations provided by the companies can become reliable and will tell you, more or less, how much your project will cost.

The offer itself and the estimation is the icing on the cake. It should summarize everything you discussed so far and should just be a confirmation that you are selecting the right company.
It should also be the place where the price is a bit secondary because the communication, level of service and expertise is much more important here.


This is it. I hope, selecting the software development provider, will be a bit easier now. I promised it won’t end up saying ‘select TH-EY’, and it won’t, but if you are interested…

Nah, just kidding.

Happy to help, extend the article or answer any additional questions you might have, and I missed.
You are welcome to use the form below, or contact me directly the way you prefer to:

All the screenshots, come from