By Nathan Mullings
Having an idea for a web or mobile app is an exciting experience, but if you’re not technical, the next feeling might be dread. This is because the next questions are going to be “who is going to build this for me?” , “how much is it going to cost?”, “how long is this going to take?”. Let’s go through a few of the different options, when taking these questions into consideration.
One of the best options is finding freelancers. It’s likely that you’ll need to find 2 or 3, many freelancers will specialise in specific areas such as design, front-end, and backend development. Luckily there are many platforms out there now such as Upwork and Fiver, that makes finding freelancers extremely easy.
These platforms also drive the cost down as there are often many freelancers competing for the same jobs. This means that you can essentially dictate the price and wait for the best offer to come through from one or several freelancers. However, with a low price, can often bring low quality an reliability. These platforms don’t do a fantastic job of vetting, and you could end up spending more money on low quality work, that needs to be redone anyway.
If you’re lucky, and get an excellent and reliable freelancer, the result is you get to spend less, and get more. For everyone else working with multiple freelancers, who have never worked with each other before, could be an issue, and stretch the app build time much further to the point you lose interest altogether.
Another good option and often cited as the best option if you’re trying to start a startup, is finding a technical cofounder. Great if you have a large network of people that you can trust to either become your cofounder, or refer one to you.
If you do find a technical cofounder that you can trust, The price is going to be very negotiable. In many cases, when starting a startup with a cofounder though, neither of you are going to get paid, and instead, you share the equity of the newly created business. For you, the person with the app idea, this is great as you don’t have to spend any money. That equity, although not worth much now, could end up worth a million times what you would have paid a freelancer, if the app is a success.
How long is it going to take? The longest part of going the technical cofounder route is actually finding a technical cofounder. Technical people are in demand and so the idea needs to be something they can believe in and stick with in the long run. It could take months just to find a compatible personality too.
Instead of having to organize, budget, review, and pay a freelancers, you’re technical cofounder can get straight to building, collaborating to manifest that vision.
An agency is going to be the easiest to find and a very good option when considering reliability. If you don’t know where to start, they are likely going to guide you through every step of the process, with maternal-like service and reassuring experience.
However, the costs can be alarmingly variable. If going for an agency that works with corporates when designing and building apps, you’re going to get a corporate process, and with that a corporate price. For some reason there is little exception for non-corporates. The agency has to go through their regular, rigorous process, and with that comes costs. Your best course of action is finding an agency used to working with people at ideation stage, and understands that not everyone has the budget of a fortune 500 company. Do that, and you can likely find an agency, as cheap as a freelancer.
An agency can also be faster than finding a technical cofounder too, with their professional processes already mastered and specialised employees, managed by them rather than by you. Although it’s this management, along with having to make time for their many other clients, that may slow them down compared to a freelancer.
Who to choose?
Choose who is going to suit you best. Need a cheap and fast start, to have something to show? Go for freelancer. Need a long term collaborator/partner willing to start a startup and take equity? Go for a technical cofounder. Need a professional reliable job with minimal effort from yourself? Go for an Agency.
There are many other options beside these three, but the first question you should ask yourself is “What am I trying to achieve?”