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Ontwik beta is live

Ismail Ghallou, Jaafari El Housseine
June 13th, 2021 · 2 min read

We’re so excited to publicly share the news that Ontwik beta is now live!

Back story, the problem

Smakosh initially came up with the idea of connecting developers directly with founders back in February 2020 when he started getting more founders reaching out to hire him, he had to manually check developers he knew if they are available or not before recommending them to founders, as most of the work was manual, he started designing the user interfaces of a platform to automate that part.

Idea validation

That’s when the first coming soon page was rolled out & over ~200 users signed up already, 90% were developers, the rest were founders. This was motivating enough for Smakosh to start designing the user interfaces of the app.

Meeting Jeffrey

Few weeks later, Smakosh finally got to meet with Jeffrey who was really interested in the idea & we knew each other already as Smakosh was a guest on the Pentium podcast to talk about the JAM stack.

After brainstorming the idea, Jeffrey joined Smakosh as his co-founder & agreed to contribute to build Ontwik.


It took us a month to build a simple MVP to onboard developers, in order to start filtering them.

The tech Stack

We picked the PERN (Postgres, Express, React, Node js) stack as it was what both of us were good at, we both had boilerplates already to speed up the process.

Ontwik used to have multiple codebases:

  • A core Express js REST API that uses Sequelize as an ORM
  • An upload service - Express js REST API
  • An emailing service - Express js REST API
  • A coming soon page - Gatsby
  • A landing page - Gatsby
  • A web app built using CRA (create-react-app)
  • An admin web app built using CRA

Later on, we removed the coming soon page and landing page and we added:

  • A payment service - Express js REST API
  • A hiring app which is also the landing page now and it uses Next js

And the whole frontend apps are now written in TypeScript

We also migrated authentication from using a JWT token and storing it in localStorage to session based authentication which gets stored in an http only cookie. Hence we added Redis to our setup where we store those sessions.

The beta app

We’ve been working hard during the weekends continuously adding more features, fixing bugs and debating how we would implement a feature or which tools to use which was fun because fortunately that debate didn’t last long and we ended up going with the balanced approach that is good and quick and not too over-engineered neither quicker that it’s not well engineered.

Right now, founders are able to hire skilled developers instantly, they pay a small fee we charge to maintain the platform and also hopefully we get to afford a living building Ontwik.

Once the fee is paid, the founder gets the hired developers’ contact info and they can reach out to them or invite them directly to their Slack workspace.


We’re happy that 3 developers have already been hired via Ontwik and upon rolling out the public beta, the first successful transaction happened!


We really appreciate everyone who trusted us, stayed with us and supported us whether financially or just by spreading the word about Ontwik ❤️

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