Hiring · IOS Development

As a non-technical CEO how do I hire a CTO or Development house for a mobile application?

Jose Jimenez CEO/Founder at Applied Motions

May 24th, 2016

I am the CEO of a startup made up of students, we just won first place in our incubator. Our next milestone is to acquire either a CTO who can develop our mobile application and website; or hire a development firm to do produce our application.

None of us on our team have the experience or skills to handle the project management. We have a two to three-week deadline to find a solution. 

I am looking for guidance in how to hire an individual or two individuals for the project, or should we go with a development firm.

To be frank we don't even know what skills we should be looking for. We are building a fitness application that uses machine learning for pattern detection. Our MVP pulls fitness data from the smartwatch/smartphone combines it with data from the application, sends it to our server for processing and then returns the information to our app. 

The website needs a store, a login with a dashboard for the fitness data and visualisations. 

We need a IOS application and watchOS for the apple smartwatch. 

What is the best solution for our predicament?

Sam McAfee Building Popup Incubators for Corporate Innovation Programs

May 25th, 2016

Honestly, Jose, it sounds to me like you're looking at this backwards. Your goal is to get 1,000 customers. It is not, in fact, to build all of the capabilities you described. Your focus should be on customer acquisition and building the most minimal possible version of your solution that you can and still convert potential customers. You simply don't have time or budget to build all of the features you described.

I wasn't in your program obviously, and I didn't observe your team, but I'd bet the initial focus was on validating an idea, a problem that a specific customer segment has, and pitching a proposed solutions that might address it. That's how most incubators work, anyway. Assuming you've nailed a painful problem that is held by a sizable market, you should zero in on the key drivers that your solution needs to have in order to acquire, retain, and convert 1,000 people.

And getting 1,000 customers is way harder than you think. That should be your primary focus, especially if you have limited time and budget. And this is coming from an engineer! I'd love to build something like this.

But you guys will likely need to put 80% of your time and energy (and non-trivial portion of the budget) into validating your value proposition and marketing channels so that you can actually attract the 100,000 leads you'll need in order to convert 1,000 paying customers.

I agree that some kind of light weight hybrid solution is probably in order. Skip the watch, it's not critical. Do a mobile-web version before you invest in native. All you really need is the landing page, sign-up form with payments, and the basic dashboard. If the data is useful, users will stick. If it sucks, they'll churn out. Focus on the core value of the app, not the shiny peripherals.

You'll need technical help no doubt, and there are developers that would be willing to join your group just for the chance to get into Tech Stars, 500 Startups, or YC alone. You can find these people all over NY. I am not there, but tons of my friends and colleagues are, and they all hang out at co-working spaces and tech meet-ups looking for the next project to jump on. I would start there. If you want to be connected to specific people, reach out to me, and I'll see who I can connect you to.

But again, key focus needs to be on traction more than development right now.

Karl Schulmeisters CTO ClearRoadmap

June 14th, 2016

Depending on what you are going to do with the Fitness Data and what country you are planning to sell it into you also need a CTO that

  • Understands FDA and FTC regulatory information
  • Understands Cloud Computing platforms
  • Understands Data Privacy and Data Security issues (HIPAA potentially even)

And to find this in 2 weeks isn't going to happen.  Much less for $60k.

You said you and your students don't have the skills.  MOST startups lack the formal skills to do everything they need to do.  Given your $60k budget - it seems to me that you guys need to run this yourselves and learn by doing (and yes that includes periodically failing)

Frankly if all you are doing is Fitness Related, you have a tough time ahead of you in terms of getting into something like YCombinator.  The world is full of FitBits and Endomondo/Map My Workout type apps.

And if you are looking to do dataanalytics that does any sort of HEALTH predictive work, you are under US Law - A MEDICAL DEVICE with all of the regulatory stuff that goes with it.  (go look at the free mHealth Checklist we have on our site to see what this means https://ClearRoadmap.com ).


You are in the classic startup problem - not enough cash and skills to do what you want to do if you follow traditional pathways.   OK so if you have $60k,  do what you can with the skills you have.  and either succeed on sheer determination and hard work, or fail trying


but you will not get what you are trying to do on the budget and time you have

Dermot Kilroy Co-founder at nujob

May 25th, 2016

As everyone else has said it's going to be very difficult to find 1 person with all of the above skills to implement AND be the CTO. If I were you I would concentrate on finding a CTO who would be able to help you hire a firm to implement the project. 

The CTO should be able to assess the project for Risk, define a technical roadmap based on the business goals and find the right firm to implement the project. The CTO will oversee the project and ensure that the code is of the right quality and the speed of delivery is as expected. 

One of the big problems with hiring a firm is that when you have quite a bit of work to do, the firm is there for you most of the time. The minute the work dwindles down to business as usual, then you go down the priority list which makes it harder to solve all the little problems as and when they arise. Having a good CTO on board will make this less of a risk.

Joanan Hernandez CEO & Founder at Mollejuo

May 25th, 2016

Hello Jose,

You made all this planning without even really knowing if it was technically possible? Good luck with that! :)

Anyway, by experience, 8 week and 60$K for a website with (accounts & users), iOS and smartwatch is tough to do. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's tough.

Ping me if you need/want more details.

Best of lucks!

Aparna Dasgupta Founder/Principal Strategist at Distillate | UX/CX-driven Web Development & Marketing | Startup Consulting

May 25th, 2016

Hi Jose, I work with early stage founders to advise on protyping and iterative development. I see we're both based in NYC and know Atma (did you take his class?). I'd be happy to make time for a phone call with you this week and see if I or someone in my network can help you. The founders we've helped have all been in the same situation - non-technical and in need of tech expertise to move their idea to the next level. Unfortunately most of them have wasted thousands on the wrong people or the wrong technology before seeking advice! I've sent you a message, let's chat! 
Best of luck -Aparna

C J Information Architect with eCommerce, Business Transformation & Business Acceleration Expertise

June 19th, 2016

Jose, Best option would be partnering with a technical team to get the proof of concept out. By the time you can seek a resource to come onboard as a CTO or head of engineering. If you in need of a contact, I have few references based in west coast. If you can initiate a private message, I would be able to share the contact numbers and the email addresses of those individuals.

Robert Guinness Research Scientist at Finnish Geospatial Research Institute

June 13th, 2016

Did you decide which route to go as far as hiring a CTO? How is your project going?

Steen Thygesen Technology & Social Business

May 26th, 2016

hi Jose

try Cogniance (www.cogniance.com) - we have built prototypes, MVPs and great products for a lot of startups since 2008 and are experts in getting stuff done for non-technical startups with great business ideas. Your budget is tough but maybe we can find a creative "MVP" solution. 

Siarhei Harbachou Looking around

May 25th, 2016

Hi Jose.

As a Technical PM, I could certainly say you describe your product quite good at first stage.
So, you have most important success factor of development - you clearly understand what you need.
:)
I often see Statements of work more abstract than yours.

You need two developers: web and mobile (ios iwatch). I recommend to have them separate, because single fullstack developer is hard to meet and it will cost more expensive. Management part - I guess you can manage by yourself - just have clear understanding of your needs, don't change them too often. And indeed breakdown your product into parts, which are simpler to manage.
However if you have time constraint to work with development part, then indeed its better to hire somebody else.

I work with nerduptown.com team as ceo, and have technical PM who works with mobile and web direction. So, can help here.

Bill Davenport Fintech Executive

May 24th, 2016

Based on the short time frame it seems to me you need to go with a development firm. You might be unlikely to find a CTO with all those skillsets anyway, so you'd likely need to find a dev partner in either case.