At crossroads. I'm currently building my mvp with an outsourced developer and provided full set of wire frames, sample database, screen by screen write up and process flows prior to receiving/accepting their quote - they just advised the price would be triple and we've just completed Iteration 1. I'm a business process person and would prefer having a technical counterpart. Should I strip the mvp to meet my budget (totally out of pocket) or seek out a cofounder to pickup the coding from here? Is this even do-able? I've been making technical decisions I know require more insight so I think I know what the answer is but could use some experiences out there to reference. Thanks.
My suggestion is outside of the options you provide and more inline with what Richard said. Seek out a technical cofounder, but don't recruit him or her to work on the code. Recruit the cofounder to manage and bring a vision to the technical aspect of the project. The cofounder should become a true partner, and you two--together--can make the best decision about how to develop the MVP. This may be outsourcing with the cofounder managing that or the cofounder developing it.
I think a big mistake that non-technical founders make is seeking out a technical cofounder to help save money on coding. They offer much, much more and become real partners rather than just coding labor.
Just a thought on how to approach hiring a cofounder.
You need a CTO as I think you already know. Your story is not unique - it happens all the time. If you are building a product, you need an experienced CTO that is working on YOUR behalf to do the design and architecture. That person should be independent of any implementation (software development) company and working in YOUR best interest to find the right resources (developers) for your product and then oversee the implementation on your behalf. People think that kind of CTO for hire resource is expensive, but as you have just learned, it actually ends up saving you money and ensures a better solution.
If you can get out of your contract with this development group, you should do so quickly before you invest anything more. If they mis-estimated it by 300% it is not someone you want to work with - they are incompetent or trying to take advantage of you.
Totally self-serving plug here, but my company, Fairwind Technologies (www.fairwindtechnologies.com), was founded specifically to help folks like you. I have 25 years in the industry in technology leadership and basically provide CTO on demand services for small, growing businesses to help founders / exec team and prevent just this sort of thing. Feel free to reach out if you want to discuss more @ 513.393.WIND (9463)
I love Mr. Sean Xie's thought.
"I think if you want to find investors quickly, before finding your right CTO, you probably want to build a MVP quickly using outsourced developers. This obviously helps your pitch much more than simply talking about your idea (which is the cheapest commodity available in the startup community). This way will give you more time/resource to find a good CTO candidate."
stripping out the mvp is never a good idea, consider the "m" to begin with. I think the right approach should be to find a technical co-founder who is equally driven as you are.
Don't worry, you'll be fine!
I recommend this article: CTO, Developers, Agency? What’s the Best Way to Build Your Startup?
It's relevant for your situation, here my cofounder analyses and highlights the pros and cons of all the choices in your hand in order to successfully build your MVP.
Thanks for reading!
If I'm stuck at the same crossroads, I'd ask myself, in the short run what's my main objective with my MVP - do I want to use the MVP to attract investors/VC so I can scale up, or do I want to make money with it independently without any outside investment involved.
I think if you want to find investors quickly, before finding your right CTO, you probably want to build a MVP quickly using outsourced developers. This obviously helps your pitch much more than simply talking about your idea (which is the cheapest commodity available in the startup community). This way will give you more time/resource to find a good CTO candidate.
If however your plan was to generate revenue straightaway with your MVP without expecting outside investors, then I think you could potentially consult a few different developers/tech specialists and pay them for strategic advice (in a way, they act as quality control counterpart and can help inspect the work done by your current developers, without hands on implementation)
The thing is, sooner or later you will need a CTO if you want to run the business for the long term. To tactically 'lure' him/her in joining the team, having decent amount of funding so you can provide growth prospect (shares) and security (paycheck) would put you in a much better position than many other startups.
Outstanding feedback everyone. So much appreciated! I have delayed the project with the outsourced developer to buy time on determining next steps. Thank you for your responses. Extremely helpful.
Found a developer with over 20 years programming experience recently certified in Xamarin. Does anyone have experience with Xamarin? I see tremendous benefit in deploying to Android, iOS and Windows as well as desktop but will I have to start over and ditch my Android app?
I agree with Richard' and Lucas' comments. If I were you at this moment I will stop that contract right away and don't put any extra money. By triplicating the cost you really need to think carefully. There are so many ways to bring in CTOs, and technical expertise at your side without getting into this trouble you need to stop before ending completely ripped off and hurt.
Good read Paolo. Helpful perspective from the non-technical founders side. Had no idea what the experiences out there were with the outsourced developers - sadly my situation is very common. Thank you so much for sending.