Once you’ve developed your app business plan a bit, you then face the tiny problem of getting someone to build it for you. In a perfect world, you have a technical co-founder who is like Mozart on a Mac and can bring all your app ideas to life. However, the world is cruel and not everyone knows someone who can code and who is also ready to jump aboard your startup. So if you don’t have a technical founder, you need to hire someone to do your programming work.
Ask any tech startup (especially in New York) and they’ll tell you hiring a full-time programmer is like a T-Rex trying to put on a hat. It’s tough, and unless you have funding to support a full-time programmer salary (which is well north of $100k), it’s not going to happen. Luckily for you, finding programmer to work on contract or freelancer basis is much much easier!
When looking to outsource your app development there are generally 2 avenues you can go down:
- Find and hire a freelance or independent developer
- Work with a contract development lab
Which road you take depends on your own comfort level with managing your app development project. Going down the freelance route works if you know what kind of help you need and you can manage the person you hire. Hiring a programmer isn’t going to magically make your app appear, you’ll need to manage them and guide your project forward. Over the course of building an app there are likely to be a host of issues that will arise and decisions that have to be made. Whether its choosing the right technology, designing functionality, or testing the app, you are going to be who the programmer turns for answers. Sites like Guru , VWorker (formerly Rent-a-code), Odesk and ELance make it really simple to find, hire and pay a freelance programmer. They all have some sort of reputation system where you can review a prospect’s past work and read their reviews, plus there are escrow payment systems which minimize the chance of getting totally ripped off.
On the other hand, if it’s not one of your life goals to become a project manager, then you might be better off working with a development lab. Just as it sounds, development labs are companies that have their own developers who will take your requirements and come back to you with an app. They generally manage themselves and relieve you of the burdening of getting into the nitty gritty of project management. While more expensive than the freelancer route, you actually lower the risk of your project going off the rails because it’s probably not the first app they’ve made (one would hope). Development shops come in all looks and sizes, some are small outfits (i.e. Blue Label Labs ), others are much larger (like Fueled or BlueWhaleApps ). Some are based in the U.S., others in South America, India and Eastern Europe. The most comprehensive listing of mobile development labs can be found at TheyMakeApps.com .
The actual cost of developing your app depend on very much on what you are building , but in general you should be ready with a few thousand dollars to get the ball going. Next week, I’ll follow up with a more in-depth exploration of how to choose the right developer and the benefits/risks of outsourcing your work to a foreign countries. Until then, stay fit, keep healthy and may the Gods of Entrepreneurship continue to smile upon you.