Congratulations! You’ve come up with a once in a lifetime idea and now its time to grab the bull by the horns and build the next billion-dollar app. But hold on there’s a catch – you’ve never written a line of code and the most technical thing you’ve ever done is install antivirus on your mom’s laptop.
You don’t have a clue about where to start. So you’re looking for a tech guru to join you and build your baby. Many entrepreneurs have gone through this. In this post, I explore the different options on how to find someone to build your app.
You have a couple of options to find someone to build your app
- Hire a third-party agency to do the whole thing for you
- Find a friend or ex-colleague.
- Hire a person directly.
There’s no black and white answer for this. Your best choice depends on several things, such as your budget, where the team will be located.
Hiring a third party agency to build your app is good for a more hands off approach. You usually have a team of people who help refine your crazy ramblings into a set of requirements, develop and deploy your product. Using an established company means that there will be a lot more accountability than you would get with a one-man band.
It will be easy to find an agency – there are loads of them. You could find an agency in the UK, but there are many offshore companies that offer similar services. They are often much cheaper but offer a comparable service.
The major downside is that this is the most expensive option. Many will require money upfront, and most won’t really be open to taking a pay reduction in exchange for shares.
The key benefit of this approach is that you take out one of the biggest areas of uncertainty around working with a total strange. You already know a lot about them and have a good idea about their character and work ethics, and you also have a strong relationship to fall back on.
Some of the most successful businesses have been built based on existing relationships.
However, be aware that having someone work for you is a different dynamic compared to a normal friendship and may put a strain on your relationship. Especially if they are not used to seeing you as their boss.
Hiring someone independent
Hiring someone independent is a tricky option. You might not know the difference between a good dev and a bad dev. You might have a call and think wow, this person was great, but when you end up working with them they turn out to be terrible.
I had a similar challenge when I tried to hire salespeople. I don’t have sales experience, and so don’t have a point of reference to figure out the difference between a good and a bad salesperson.
Professional relationships can be easier than dealing with someone that you’ve been friends with. You’re starting from a blank slate and so they’ll be much more comfortable taking orders from you.
A bad developer can leave a significant negative impact on your business and may leave a lot of work for the next person who comes along, so you need to be extra careful when thinking about doing anything like this.
So now you’re sufficiently scared, you might be wondering, what does this fictional person actually look like?
Look for someone with excellent communication skills that is great at explaining complex technical things clearly and simply. This happens all the time; the developer advises why something should be a priority, and the best way to do it..
If they can’t give you a simple explanation that you understand, then this will prevent you from making the right decision.
Don’t hire someone too senior
Don’t hire someone too senior either – such as a CTO. This only works if you already have a good chunk of cash and can afford to build out a dev team and therefore making the most of the CTO’s skills.
Speaking as a CTO, even though I can write code, and still do for personal projects, being your primary developer is not the best use of my time
Hire a capable developer that can grow into the role of a CTO
Negotiating salary and equity
Renumeration is always difficult, and there is no actual rule of thumb. The salary will depend on a combination of things, such as their level of experience and their location.
Remote developers will have a preference to be paid fully with a salary, whereas developers in the UK will be more open to taking equity. The amount of equity you will give depends on how much work you need from them them and how much effort it will take.
So as part of this, one of the first things I would recommend doing is fleshing out a roadmap and a critical path to getting to your MVP.
Equity depends on what stage your business is at. If you’re at an early stage and have a lower valuation then you will give up more equity. Whereas uf you’re at a later stage, then you will probably give up less. Be sure to add a vesting period to any allocation to ensure that equity is not squandered.
In conclusion, there are many options at your disposal when trying to find someone to build your app. but the following three key principles will put you in good stead.
Develop a clearer idea of what you want to build, be willing to give up some equity at this stage of the business and understand just how important this person will be helping you on the road to success.