I am working on starting a tech startup. However, I am not a developer, and have very little knowledge when it comes to tech development. Business is my strong suit, and it is where my role comes into play. However, I am planning to outsource my initial development of a working prototype, use that to gain interest and hopefully investors, and then hire a full time developer to build the rest of the service. I am wondering how I might find developers, and if I would be okay to go with a local development firm, or if I should use a development firm that works nationwide? Will either one make a difference in the project's success, as long as the service is a high quality?
First of all, this is a common question across the globe for Entrepreneurs experienced in Business domain.
To answer your question.
1. Hiring Development firm has always been better (against individuals) as firm possess variety of skilled resources which are needed to convert your vision into reality. The process to convert your vision into a working prototype includes several steps and skills associated with each step. Starting from Understanding your vision, solution architect, design, development, QA and support. If you hire individuals, you cannot expect one or two guys to deliver quality service at each level. At the same time you should not hire multiple team members at this stage as it can cost you a lot and being a non-tech professional you will be dependent on their opinions which is very risky for your startup. A tech firm can provide you one point contact and they takes responsibility of resource allocation to deliver what is expected.
2. Location of development firm depends on your personal preference.
One thing i can add is, you (or any startup) should go with small team development firm to ensure you get human touch as compared to process oriented approach with large firm. Small team is anything between 10-30 people. Any firm beyond 30 has to be process oriented to sustain in the competitive world and eventually loose the emotional touch. And for startups, every stack holder involved has to have the same belief in the product (at-least at early stage).
Last thing, don't expect development as a comfortable process. Please understand that the environment in a kitchen of a five start hotel is always full of energy, contradiction, critics, negotiations and all. But ultimately everything has a role to play to present the unique dish to the visitors. This precisely applies to tech startups as well.
All the best!!!
A small software services company may be a reasonable way to get the MVP out. You can find many at freelancer websites like http://www.guru.com/ , https://www.upwork.com/ etc. Make sure to get multiple competing bids and look through their customer reviews from previous projects.
You are not alone. I have seen many non-tech founders spending a lot of time and money using contract engineers/teams to build MVPs that they have to throw away down the road. Software engineers and service companies vary widely in their skills, cost and quality. It will be very hard for a non-technical person to manage this on their own.
Recommendation #1: I would highly recommend getting a technology partner/advisor, who is on your side and interested in helping your business succeed. The technology advisor must have experience building similar products or services and he/she can guide you through the product development. Ideally this person is your potential CTO candidate, who can work for equity in the beginning (part-time is OK), can 'own' the technology decisions being made initially, manage the outsourced MVP development and can join your team full-time after you have gained traction, revenue or funding, etc. I hope this makes sense.
Recommendation #2: If you have absolutely no help from a technology partner/advisor, you can try to find outsourced engineering teams from online portals like the ones I mentioned above. These may be good enough for the MVP. However, you may need to throw away and start over if the company gains traction and need serious re-work of the product.
Please feel free to ping me if you have any follow-up questions.
Wish you best of luck!
The question raised by you has been a prolonged dilemma faced by entrepreneurs, and startups in particular. However, without any unnecessary elongated thesis-like explanations, I'll just suggest it's better to go with a smaller development firm. The main reason being is that you can be in constant interaction with the main working brains in there and not worry about your work being outsourced further as is mostly the case by many of the larger development firms nowadays. Also, the quality and finesse of your product would be far better given even among the smaller firms, you ARE able to pick the ace of spades outta the whole deck
Working with a small development firm local or remote is useful in these cases. This type of work does not fit into scheme of things of larger firms involving multiple interfaces . On the other hand small upcoming firms are trying to establish themselves in market and have simple interfaces.
If you give me a better overview on what you are trying to build (If you are not too keen to share the idea, an overview of the tech development needed will help), I might be able to point you in the direction of possible outsourcing partners (in India) who might be able to assist. Cheers.