These days it’s easy to find someone to tell you they can build your digital product, but how do you know who to partner with? You’re going to be investing not only money, but also a lot of time, energy, and trust in whoever you choose.
Below I explain the different options for who you can choose to work with. Additionally, I go over what it takes to work with them and some of the potential upsides and downsides you may encounter.
The point was recently made to me that most co-founders are either found in college or current/former co-workers who turn into friends. The reason for this is because if you’re not looking to pay someone then it’s going to be with someone you know and like to hang out with.
It also takes time to get to know someone well enough that you trust them with a piece of your company. I’ve never heard of a good result of someone you don’t know accepting x% of a company. They either do a poor job, lose interest, or cause trouble later down the line.
If you have that connection with someone or have the time to find someone and create that connection this could be a great option. You can expect to work with someone you like on developing a business you’re both interested in and both have the skills to create.
This can be successful, but I would only recommend this if:
They are usually less expensive than an agency and more expensive than an overseas developer. The advantage they have over an overseas developer is they are native English speakers and you’ll have a cultural familiarity with them (yes, this matters). Most are still laser focuses on development and not on product so you will still need to stay on top of this, but you have a better chance of finding someone who has product experience.
The agency brings a package deal that the other options do not. They bring together a team with a deep knowledge of several different disciplines such as product development and app development. For an agency to be efficient they need to follow a defined process from onboarding a client to building the product. You can read about our process here. An agency is a good option when you have nailed down your market and need a solid team you can trust to create the complete product without much guidance.
The downsides of an agency when compared to the other options are
As mentioned, everyone will tell you they can build you an app these days. So what else is important when looking at candidates? Below we’ve listed a few factors you’ll want to consider when making your decision. Though they are a bit general, we find they’re good reminders to have before any candidate selection.
The most obvious thing to look out for is experience. Digital products are nothing new, but they do have a lot of caveats so you’ll want to find people who have done this before. The more they’ve seen the better they’ll be able to guide you and your product through the many small decisions that have iceberg-like impacts.
To gauge their experience you’ll want to see prior work. Many have this available via a portfolio, but some will provide you with direct links to web or mobile apps. Additionally, you should feel comfortable asking for customer references who you can ask further questions about their experience.
Do the people you’re talking to seem like they enjoy building your app, or are they just in it for the money? It’s true, we all need to pay rent, eat food, and live happy lives, but you should want to work with people who are in it for more than just the next paycheck (I know I do!). Working with people who have motivation outside of the next paycheck is always beneficial. Because they really care you can trust them to do The Right Thing™ for both you and your product.
Lets be honest: we’re all human. And humans are most honest with those they’re most comfortable with. While we’d encourage you to hire outside your close friends group for the best talent we’d also encourage you to make sure you like the people you hire.
So ask yourself: How comfortable do you feel with who you’re going to hire? Are your conversations natural? Can you tell a joke? Do you care about the same things?