Not all entrepreneurs are lucky to have a sack load of seed money to burn and build a product. For most of entrepreneurs even just surviving and getting at-least an MVP ready that he can market is a huge struggle.
The first version of your product or your MVP – Minimum Viable Product version should absolutely serve 2 purpose-
> It should have the main 1-2 core feature that actually addresses your target markets pain point. It’s going to be difficult getting customers onboard when you start and it is absolutely important that you retain these customer. If your core feature is not good enough to have your customers wait for other minor feature addition then you need to rethink on your product offering.
> Your MVP should send message to your potential investors that you mean business. Investors are going to look at how many clients you get onboard how quickly and how good is your product technically.
There are lot of entrepreneurs specially in web and mobile apps domain who think outsourcing is the solution to their budget problem and keep a budget of few hundreds or thousand dollars for product development. My advise to these entrepreneurs is that DONT move ahead. You will simply be wasting your time and money and not get anything out of it. It’s a simple mother nature’s law that you get what you pay for. Investing few hundreds or thousand dollars and dreaming that you will earn millions is not going to happen. I know each entrepreneur thinks that he is unique(including me :)) and will be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs – but sorry to burst your bubble here again law nature applies and even if you have capabilities of Mark or Steve the same opportunities and other permutation and combinations are not going to be there now when you are building the next unicorn. For this same reason if you see historically startups who have a programmer founder or co-founder have faced more success. I don’t have statics on this but just think – how many startups you know which have become big with outsourced teams?
Coming back to core questions again so if I don’t have big budget or a technical co-founder should I not move ahead with my product?
Ideally in this scenario what you should do first is have a realistic road-map of your product development and absolutely have the right solution in terms of team and technology that can deliver what you need. If your evaluation is correct then it would not matter if your team is a local team, outsourced team or an individual freelancer.
Your first step should be to determine if there are any good open source frameworks or cms available with at least 50% features that you need. If your venture is to build or clone an already successful business model like a airbnb or freelancer type marketplace or multivendor marketplace or uber for a specific niche then there would be a lot of open source and cost effective solutions available. A very simple example of this would be using open source ecommerce platforms like magento, woocommerce etc. to build your online shop. You simply deploy the code and customize it to personalize for your business. Building an online shop without a readymade script will normally cost 10 times extra and would not even offer all the features a mature open source ecommerce platform will offer. There are multiple solutions for many domains available like this.
It would make sense to have a consultant evaluate the solutions available and decide. A wrong choice here would infact increase the costs in long terms and in some scenarios I have seen that the product needed to be rebuilt again from scratch. Few points to check here are:-
– how many ready built features are already available in the solutions
– how well is the code written and documented
– how flexible and scaleable is the code architecture.
– what kind of support is available
– are that technology resources available freely or is it a niche technology.
– will the platform support future upgrades updates.
These seems like small things but hit hard in long terms – for example a while back one of my friends started building a product using Ruby on rails – 2 months down the line he was not happy with his teams delivery and was looking for another team to build and complete the app – but after another couple of months of hunt he could not find a single good team and the ones he found that were good came with price tag of $150/hr which simply killed his idea. He could have easily used php which gave more or less same performance and has much larger resource pool and resource availability. I see the same thing happening with lot of new entrepreneurs going for angular 1 just coz of the hype. The best way is to look at the output its going to give, if both platforms give you same output go for one which has larger user base and easier resource availability.
After you have decided your platform your next step is to hire the right team. This decision is as important as choosing the right platform. Correct platform is like a car and your development team is the driver – a bad driver will ruin the car, same way wrong team will ruin your project.
The primary thing you should be looking at is how experienced is the team or developer in that platform. It does not make sense to hire even a top developer who is going to learn and execute for your project. It is very rare that someone will be able to grasp a new platform and concurrently do professional work, and learning time is not billable so developers or companies are not going to invest a lot in this. And if your team does not code correctly you are never going to get a good product. A good way to evaluate would be to check their past projects on the same platform, have a non technical interview on the features of that platform and if possible technical evaluation on the code knowledge of that platform.
Next point you should be considering is does the team or developer have domain knowledge on the project you are going to develop. Note that this is a good to have quality coz its going to be very rare finding a team or developer who is expert on the platform you need plus be a domain expert in the project area.
If you manage to combine the first 2 points together then you will have a magic combination which will be cost effective yet build and product for you that sells and if you manage to combine all the 3 factors together then i promise that there is no looking back for you. You would be on path to success.