Got an idea!

FAQ: “Would you work together with me to make a app?”

Once a day or so I get an email that reads something like this,

I’ve got a great idea for an app, but no idea how to program or time to make an app myself.  Would you like to do it for me?  I already asked a developer to do it, but she wanted way too much money.  Maybe we can just do a profit share.  It’s a REALLY GREAT/ORIGINAL/NOVEL IDEA and I’m pretty good at business or at least a people person.

Ok.  There are variations on this email like “what is the cheapest way to make the simplest app” or “do you know someone who will work for free or for very little”.

Today, I’m Answering Your Question!

First off, that’s great that you are interested in getting involved in this platform.  Mobile is really an exciting technology and working on mobile technology is just plain fun.

Before I answer your question directly I just want to list some of the assumptions that I make when deciding whether to pass on a request like this to my network of developers just so you know.

Software developers are professionals just like lawyers, accountants and doctors.  So when software developers charge a consulting rate it will be similar to other professionals.  Most of the software developers who I know would charge at least $125 per hour for consulting work and that’s not necessarily for mobile app development.

What figures in for me is this:

  • Is the emailer (that’s you) likely to be willing to pay $125 per hour for a few weeks to a consultant to make your application.
  • How likely is your idea going to be so great that it’s worthwhile for a developer to spend a few weeks or months working your your idea?  Keep in mind that developer could be earning $125 per hour instead of working on your project.

BTW: the answer to the first question is almost never and the answer to the second question is very unlikely!

Yes, it’s really true.  But more on that in a second.

You Have To Pay

Here’s the bottom line: most developers aren’t going to work for free no matter how nice you are or how great your idea is.  Software development is detailed and time consuming even when you believe your idea should be easy to do.  Programming is hard and that’s why it costs money.

The Great Idea Fallacy

This is the point where people usually say that they have the greatest idea ever and you would be crazy to pass on this.  It’s natural to feel that you have a great idea that would be successful if you could just make it happen.

FYI: the Apple App Store along is filled up with 500,000+ ideas that someone thought was a great idea.  Some apps even are great ideas.  Your idea has a 1 in 500,000 chance in being the greatest idea on the app store.  Trying to sell a developer on this slim chance by offering “profit sharing” is mostly just insulting – sorry.

Also: just so you know, most developers who have taken to the time to not only learn programming but also mobile app development did so because they have there own ideas.  In fact, most developers have so many ideas that they’ll never get to them all.

Final Thoughts

Not trying to be harsh, just realistic.  If there is any hope to get a developer on board with you outside of simply hiring the developer, you will have to offer something more than an idea.


8 thoughts on “FAQ: “Would you work together with me to make a app?”

  1. I agree with your article. I was asked once about taking on a website project that had already been started and abandoned by another developer. The owner wanted something like Etsy.

    I looked at what was done and knew I could do better and finish it so I sent a price quote. Then they wrote me back explaining they couldn’t pay but would offer me a percentage of sales. It was then I realized why other developer didn’t finish the project and I turned the offer down.

    Time is money and promises don’t usually pay the bills.

  2. Well I’m a software developer on iOS and I’ve recently started working for free on an application which will be a free application with no advertising or things like that (incomes = 0$).

    Why ? For 2 main reasons :
    - I can afford working for free few hours a day, as most developers … (at 125$ per hour, working 2 weeks a month is allowing most people to have a confortable income) …
    - This application is quite simple in term of implementation (10-20 hours should be enought for the design and implementation)
    - It’s for helping some people who need some help, it’s for something that, I think, deserve to give some of my time

    You are right Matt, most iOS developers started to develop their own ideas, and I also have a lot of ideas to bring to reality, but sometimes, life is not just about money …

    What I would say to people having some ideas in which they really trust is : don’t give up, try to find a friend willing to help, some investors, or learn iOS programming (it’s not an easy task if you start from scratch. but everything is possible …).

    Moreover, most but not all developers are as it is described here … If your goal is just to get money, don’t expect having a developper working for free for you, if your goal is to improve the life of some people who need it without making some money, then you may have a small chance to find a developer to help you in this task …

  3. Apps are what is needed to make your smartphone smart and unique.Im fond of app creating and find it really helpful to use site like Snappii where i can build apps in minutes.

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