The question travelling through the minds of many soon-to-be founders/entrepreneurs/non-technical individuals with dreams to make something of their own?
“Should a remote team build my app to save me $$$?
Before we answer that, let’s look at why the question is there in the first place.
— TLDR? SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM —
- Devs are in demand, big time —
The thirst for entrepreneurship and building “a scalable solution that solves problems and improves the world” is massive in Australia(and so it should be). Just go to any pub, coffee shop, or popular running track in your city.
Someone, somewhere is telling someone, somewhere about their tech idea that no one has thought of. It’s brilliant. But who’s building the next unicorns?
2. Supply is low —
Whilst organisations like General Assembly, Code The Future, Codecademy, edX and (the one I’m doing) The Odin Project are teaching more Australians to code each day, there’s still nowhere near enough.
And because the dev market is no different to many other free markets…
3. Developers aren’t cheap
Try $150AUD/hr unless you’ve befriended one. Just check this list of Australia’s most in demand jobs.
4. And they’re picky.
They can afford to be. When a box of Favourites comes out, you don’t take the Cadbury Milk Chocolate bar first, you get the Boost or the Cherry Ripe and the others will wait. The same goes for devs and their projects. They’ll be able to earn that hourly rate no matter what job they’re doing, so they may as well do the most exciting one, right? That’s what I would do.
So when trying to build an MVP(Minimum Viable Product, or MLP as it’s progressed to) and with little capital, we went overseas for a cost-effective solution, found one and 4 months later, are one week out from the app being finished.
Whilst there were many issues, the team over there were great and as attentive as they possibly could be, which is all you can really ask for when time nor money are a luxury.
— (Keen to be involved in our beta-testing crew to see the app first-hand and be involved in shaping it? Send me an email — email@example.com.)
But what’s the biggest benefit of taking the next step with your idea? Why go remote?
- Get yourself to MVP/MLP as quickly as possible to LEARN, not SCALE. This is important, just ask David Bland, Founder/CEO of Precoil, a company aimed at offering workshops and training to startups on using lean startup and design thinking to rapidly find problem/solution fit and product/market fit. Fantastic.
- Keep up momentum for the project. If there’s one thing that kills a fire is no oxygen. Keep breathing life into it as much as you can — development is progress, progress is growth. I can’t say enough on this.
- Commit to something, get ‘skin in the game’. Everyone has a good idea, hardly anyone executes on it, largely due to fear of failure. What a mistake. Failure is the best way to learn (just ask me) and putting your hard-earned dollarydoos on the line is what makes you go the extra yard to make it work (or at the very least, learn what doesn’t work) AND shows those around you that you’re serious.
But what we really want to know is
“What do I sacrifice by saving money and working with a remote team?”
Whilst I love improving efficiency in anything I do, there really is no substitute for face-to-face interaction (especially with something you’re so close to).
What’s the real cost of using a remote team to build an app? What should you expect?
Whilst we’re super happy, many things didn’t go as planned and that’s to be expected. The app was meant to be finished at the end of September. It’s now Nov 9 and it’ll be done this week.
This is on both me and the product team. We started with clearly outlined schedules, documents, user stories, design briefs, examples of exactly what we wanted and yet the translation of these inputs to the devs is where it ultimately fell down.
LESSON: Be clear, get them to confirm what you’re asking and iterate in small batches.
After doing the Product Management course through Coursera, I’ve learnt devs create great products when they have the best inputs. Progress is achieved when you break the build into small chunks rather than ‘waterfall’ it and get them to build the whole thing only for you to see it and have to redesign 80%.
- Quality of design.
Again, expect this.
When you save on money, quality usually drops and the skill we’re after is development with design coming in 2nd. You’ll notice when you look on the websites of these companies, the design is usually poor. I ended up having to design roughly 90% of it — it’s lucky I knew how to use Photoshop (I’m a butcher, but still) and have plenty of design friends.
LESSON: Be prepared to fill in their resource gaps (design). And do a tonne of research on high performing apps and designs you like. The best part about the start up bubble? There are 100’s of companies out there who have spent millions on development… “Good artists copy, great artists steal”.
- Lack of emotional investment.
This is the big one I reckon.
When you’re working with someone you’ve never met(and probably never will) and you can’t get physically in front of them to transfer your passion to inspire them to create the best product in the world, it’s not going to be made with as much love as you’d like.
They haven’t lay in bed taking notes using the doona to cover the phone glare that’ll wake their lovely girlfriend up.
So be prepared for the holes, the UX issues no one has thought of and the 48hrs it’ll take for a response to something you feel might significantly alter the project’s trajectory.
This is a bigger realisation — your project is nowhere near as important to someone else as it is you.
What are the next steps for you?
My advice? If you’re sitting there with:
- A sound idea for a business and an app is the most effective way to provide value to your audience/market,
- Not enough money to have it built in Australia (approx. less than $30k) and you don’t have enough proof of concept to give away equity in exchange for capital. Whilst there are website options that show you the scary figure for how much your app would cost to build, they’re a waste of time I think. You can get it done cheaper.
- Mountains of belief that your idea is worth exploring…
- Talk to as many people as you can about your idea. No one is going to steal it, they usually CBF. Every time I have talked to someone about Hood Food Guide, the concept has become stronger no doubt. From doing the great course at BSchool to startup conferences to MeetUps, everyone will listen and it’s great when they shoot it down — “feedback is a gift” (very lame but true).
- Go to these talks and meetups to hear how people with more experience than you talk. Take note of what jargon they use, what they look for, what KPIs they measure first, and what steps they take before, during and after.
“Reading is when, in a week or so, you gain someone’s experience that took them 20 years to collect.”
- Search every-bloody-where on the internet for your idea. Someone has mostly likely created it or a version very similar. You know what that is? Free tutelage. Free knowledge. Tony Robbins puts it well when he said “Reading is when, in a week or so, you gain someone’s experience that took them 20 years to collect.”
Look at how someone with money behind them is solving that problem, then see if you can do it better.
I’ll keep you posted on the next stage of the process for our team — Beta Testing.
Interested in getting a first look at the app and being a part of our beta testing team? Awesome. Hit me up directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you a link.
HERE’S THE TLDR:
- It’ll almost always run late because of communication breakdowns. Work in iterations using an agile methodology and not a ‘waterfall’ one.
- They’re cheaper for a reason. You’ll go over things many times and do more work yourself than if you were to use a more experienced, expensive team. Go over everything they do with a fine toothed comb.
- You should do it anyway because you’re executing and progressing. Progress is growth.