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An assortment of thoughts.  Mostly tech related.

Building an app - where do we start?

The iOS App Store from Apple

The iOS App Store from Apple

The iOS App store has always held great appeal to me since it's inception back in July 2008. The stories of multi-thousand dollar pay days for ridiculous, gimmicky apps demonstrates how serious money can be made away from the serious side of life and business.  

A friend and I have been chatting over the last months, tossing around an idea for a new business - we started with an idea for a 'trading' website (which has grown and grown - almost out of control) and as of last week we've decided we're gonna build an app as an important, smaller first step towards our much bigger goal. 

Why an App? 

The reason for going with an app is several-fold:

  1. We both want to go through the process of building an app - so it's a learning exercise for each of us.
  2. The product needs to be portable.  Our product will be useful to people while they're out and about and so we need access to the geolocation and push notification features that iOS affords developers.
  3. We want a piece of the 'App Store' action(!)
  4. With an app, it's easier for us to 'see and define the edges' of this project, which we'll both be doing in our spare time.
  5. I want to have a series of digital products and apps are part of that strategy.
  6. It should be fun. 

      Now that's the Why - the bigger question is Where do we start?

      Coding/Development

      We're going to need to get some help with the developing - well, maybe more than some.  I'd absolutely LOVE to learn Objective-C and learn to code myself, but I don't have that kind of time, so we're going to have to acquire the skills in some other way.  The way I see it is that our options here are:

      1. Outsource the project to someone on Odesk, Freelancer or Elance - desirable due to low cost and no ongoing commitment, but could be challenging when it comes to needing updates and bug fixes done.  Also, in my experience communicating your needs and wants in one-off projects can be quite challenging and frustrating and you'll always forget something.
      2. Take on a developer as a co-founder - A valid option, but we're already a partnership and diluting the shares further isn't preferable. It'd add significant 'cost' to the project - especially if it takes off as we hope.
      3. Hire a full-time overseas developer  - Take advantage of geographic arbitrage and hire overseas.  The Philippines is really hot right now for virtual employees, but there's a whole stack of places with quality developer staff available at a fraction of the cost we'd incur here.  While morally challenging for some, outsourcing overseas is just the way business is done in 2013.

      I'm strongly learning toward option 3. 

      Marketing

      This we're confident we can take care of ourselves.  Social media, buying ads, blogging - we can take care of much of this. This is the least of our worries.

      Getting started

      There's lots to think about, but it's an exciting time too. The brainstorming, idea development, choosing a name, considering design and planning out a feature roadmap are all necessary parts and I'm excited to be underway.

      I'd be keen to hear your experiences developing.  Which development option did you choose? What lessons have you learned?  Please feel free to contribute a comment if you have something to share - I'd love to hear from you.