People often enter the app development arena with idea(s) for apps and a dream of successfully developing and launching that app, and hence establishing their startup. However, after their initial privy of research on developing apps, many newcomers become boggled by the amount of information about appreneurship that is focused on coding, and ask: where should I start?
But newcomers, more often than not, lack the coding skills and understanding necessary to develop the app they have in mind (or to lead its development). Hence, questions start pouring — ranging from the option of hiring a freelancer developer and learning the re-skinning process, to understanding the most cost-effective and profitable method of starting their business.
This post is in response to a recent discussion on becoming a new appreneur, and will highlight the two roads that are available for the taking for all serious appreneurs.
The Two Roads: Learning The Process Or Managing The Process?
Once the appreneur has validate the idea for the market (i.e. it resolves a unique customer need, has sufficient market opportunity for being profitable, and can differentiate itself in the market), the appreneur has two options to lead his/her business venture:
- Learn the process of app development with hands on experience, and develop the app.
- Delegate/outsource the development process and manage the hired talent.
The First Route
Given that new validated ideas spawn alongside fear of being stolen by rivals or other established companies, the first route seems to be more resilient. Having command over the core competency/skill-set of your business has strong long-term benefits, the biggest of which is that it allows you to create a silo around your business. No one else has to be in the loop to know what you’re building, not to mention it allows you to hire effectively, giving you an exceptional competitive advantage.
However, this route comes at the cost of time and the learning and coding ability of the founding team. My advice is that newcomers must realize that time is the most precious scarce resource in the fast paced world of app development. Furthermore, they must also keep in mind that everyone has a different learning curve and that the timeframe for sufficiently mastering coding cannot easily be estimated in the founding process.
The Second Route
Appreneurs can take on the management route by searching and short-listing trustworthy firms to which the app’s development can be outsourced. In this process, the appreneur (or the founding team) takes on the role of managing the hired talent. The biggest advantage of this route is that it saves time, allowing the team (once the process has been mastered), to work on multiple app projects.
However, the catch comes with the cost of outsourcing and mastering the management process. To shortlist a candidate for outsourcing your app is to share your idea to companies you may not want to work with (after all, you will select only one company). My advice is to minimize communication of the idea of the app during the initial communications where you are investigating “good match” with a company. Secondly, create detailed project scopes with schedules dates for different deliverables, and keep all channels of communication open.
Depending on the willingness, perceived timeframe for the market window, and the ability of the appreneur, gaining the required skills may or may not be possible. Hence, in the end it is up to the appreneur to choose the path that best suits them.
However, in the end I will strongly advise them to find and connect with experienced app developers and gradually build relationships so that in the long run they can have access to mentors. Having a mentor is crucial to the success of any startup.
Nice post. You touch on some great points in your blog about how to create apps from scratch. I’ve also had some luck with using templates. It was easier and faster for me than having to learn how to code but it was also a lot cheaper than having to hire full time developers. Since I was low on funding I used app templates from Chupamobile and ran with it. Have you ever tried this method?