Lessons from an Appster: 4 Tips to Successfully Outsourcing Your App Development

Michael Jacobs, founder of the SocialLink iPhone app, shares some of his hard earned advice on how to successfully outsource your app development.

Michael’s app, SocialLink, was built by a outsourced development team in India.

My name is Michael Jacobs,  I’m a 20-year-old app entrepreneur and this my app story. Over the past years I have been following the entrepreneurial path and it has lead me into mobile app development. This past summer I traveled abroad to India where I came up with an app idea that I decided to pursue when I got back home. Since then, I’ve worked with a development team based in India to develop and release my app SociaLink on the iTunes App Store. I am not a programmer nor do I have any technical background, but that didn’t stop me from bringing my idea to life. In this article, I’ll share 4 important lessons I learned through outsourcing my app development to India which I believe can help any app entrepreneur looking to do the same.

1)   Have More Than An Email Conversation With Your Developers

  • Create visual or verbal connections (i.e. Skype)
  • Emails are great, but making a physical connection is best

When outsourcing people make the mistake of relying on email rather than face-to-face or verbal communication. I personally see this as a huge mistake. You NEED to make a human connection with the person you are working with rather than relying on technology. Luckily, I was in India when I came up with my app idea, which allowed me to have face-to-face meetings with the development teams I was interviewing. If you are not in the same position, I recommend you start using Skype and get some face-to-face or verbal exposure. This will build a stronger relationship and better communication between you and the development team.

2)   Do Your Research On Potential Development Teams

  • Look at the teams previous work online
  • Study their app store reviews
  • Ask for references and follow up with those references!

One of the most beneficial things for me when deciding on a development team was that I did my research. I had multiple teams that seemed to have high quality work, but each had different prices. At that point, I realized that my main concern needed to be quality. I made sure to test the previous apps that the company had created, read as many reviews as possible, and spoke with their previous clients. Getting in touch with previous clients and hearing their positive responses about the company I did choose is what solidified my decision. Your goal with doing research is to make sure you know the good and the bad about a company before you decide to hire and invest thousands of dollars with them.

3)   Choose a team based on quality, not price

Although lowering costs is one of the main goals of outsourcing, especially for a startup, the quality of the product MUST to be the first priority. If you cut prices by half but receive a poor product, then you will end up spending more getting it fixed or having to starting over with another company. Although I was a startup company with extremely low funds, I realized that the main priority when creating my app was to have it functioning correctly. If you don’t believe the development team can do it correctly, keep looking for someone who can, despite the low costs.

4)   Keep constant communication with your developers

  • Explain everything in extreme detail
  • Never assume things are happening…CHECK!
  • Get ready for some late nights

One of the biggest mistakes you can make (and that I made) is to assume that the development team is working or they are properly creating your product.  One of the mistakes I made when working on my first outsourcing project was assuming that the development team understood how each step of my app was suppose to work. Although I had provided a detail SOW (Scope of Work), the words and pictures themselves were not enough to explain how the app needed to function. For me, the reason my app was developed successfully was the fact that I was on Skype constantly communicating my vision to the development team in India. Since there is a 12.5 hour difference between my time zone and India, I stayed up late for multiple months to make sure the app was developed properly. If you don’t do this, you risk having an app that doesn’t do what you want it to and you could end up months behind development. Trust me, the late nights are worth it.

About Michael Jacobs

Michael Austin Jacobs is a passionate 20-year-old entrepreneur, author, and student who is following his dream. He is presently a Senior in the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, (Tucson, AZ) and planning to graduate Summer 2013 with a B.A. in Business Management. His previous venture was CollegeReg.com where he looked to provide value to college students who were in need of a place to share private information. His current venture is SociaLink, a mobile application that simplifies the way people networking. You can find SociaLink on the Apple iTunes App Store for free. Also, want to learn how to create and publish a mobile app? Michael recently published an eBook to help people turn their ideas into apps. The eBook is titled, ‘Make Your Idea an App Store App – 8 Secrets Behind Creating a Successful Mobile App’ and it can be purchased on Amazon.

  • oltoby

    When you did your research, did you consider developers in Eastern Europe? What are your thoughts on quality vs. price between India and Eastern Europe?

    • http://twitter.com/MrJacobs21 Michael Jacobs

      I actually didn’t do any research on Eastern Europe developers. I focused mainly on India because I was based in Bangalore at the time and I had already learned a lot about the culture. I personally can’t comment of the India vs. Eastern Europe because I haven’t had any experience yet in Eastern Europe but I can say that India’s price point is VERY good.

  • sumit kher

    I am comparatively new to Iphone apps however I can make some of the apps but I also wanna advance and learn iphone gaming programmes/ how to make games also, I only need the right direction to start the programming and recently got to this 1 of iphone and Ipad app development course http://www.wiziq.com/course/13809-iphone-app-development-xcode-cocoa-framework-jquery-phonegap, wonder this will work or not as I haven’t got enough info regarding these online course

    • http://www.facebook.com/michael.jacobs.587 Michael Jacobs

      I am not sure about if the course will help or not, but you can check out my eBook titled ‘Make Your Idea an App Store App – 8 Secrets Behind Creating a Successful Mobile App’! It details all the steps I took to make my idea a reality as well as how to develop your app! Hope this helps!


  • Once Bitten…

    Also worth mentioning, be wary of local developers who promise a premium service, only to offshore all their development work to countries where they can engage developers for cents in the dollar.

    Be aware of where the actual development is taking place. Often this critical information is buried in fine print somewhere in the contract. Do not get suckered into paying premium rates for 3rd rate work.

    We did our due diligence as described in the article, but still got caught out. Fortunately for us, another local team that we engaged on a separate project was willing to help us get this one over the line.

    There are a lot of cowboys in this industry, and many traps for the unwary. Make sure that you know who your dealing with.


  • JTZ

    Can you recommend a developer. I have brilliant app idea but like you I xan not program


    Its amazing post on 4 tips to successfully outsourcing app development. I blog often and I truly appreciate your content. The article has truly peaked my interest. I’m going to take a note of your website and keep checking for new details about once a week. in IB World Academy