Creating an MVP App to Secure Investors
Here's how you can build a minimum viable product app to raise money for your idea.
You probably have a crazy mobile app idea and need to raise capital to create it. Developing a minimum viable product (or MVP) app is how you secure investors when you don't have a big budget. The MVP will let you present the app to VCs and investors while keeping the cost of development to a minimum. You can expect your MVP to only be a few thousand dollars. The best part is that you only need two things to make it happen: a designer and a developer.
Hiring a designer
To start, you'll want to hire a designer. Affordable and skillful designers can be found on sites like Dribbble and Freelancer. When you find your designer, you should make sure they fully understand your app, and then they can begin creating a wireframe. The wireframe doesn't need to be so complicated. Keep it simple, and only include the essential parts of your app. Once you get your wireframe, you can make tweaks and let your designer know what kind of styling you want for your app. Mention the color scheme you want and maybe even some apps that you love, so your designer can have some inspiration to work with. Depending on the level of designer you're hiring, each page design will be anywhere from $20 to $200. A great designer will charge you $2,000 for ten pages, and a new designer will charge you $200. Remember that the design is what will be selling your app, so you shouldn't try to save money here.
Many of you will be able to stop here and show your app designs to potential investors and VCs. This should be good enough most of the time, but there's a chance you will deal with people who want to see an app that works before they sign a check — and that's where a developer comes in. They'll be able to bring those designs to life.
Hiring a developer
Now you've reached the hard part, hiring a developer. Today, you can find developers all over the internet. I recommend searching for developers on LinkedIn if you want to stay on the affordable side, or you can hire them on freelance websites like Toptal or Freelancer.
Before you hire a developer, you'll need to look at their recent work, where they're from, find out what language they speak, how much they're charging per hour and how much time they can dedicate to your project. If you need to save money, consider hiring developers outside the U.S. You can find talented affordable developers in Ukraine, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, Nepal and many other countries outside the U.S.
What's great about creating an MVP is that you don't need the best developers on earth to make it happen. Your MVP won't need a sophisticated backend to support millions of users; it is just a demo app that will serve a handful of people you'll be pitching. Think friends, family and potential investors.
When speaking to the developers, be sure that they know you only want a demo or MVP app. They need to know that you're not looking for a fully built-out project that can support tons of users. If they don't understand this, you'll be spending a ton of money on your cloud when you don't need anything serious running behind the scenes. After clarifying this, you can get into their past work. See if maybe they have done a similar app in the past, and ask to see that app, so you can get an idea of the quality they'll be able to provide you.
Once you find someone you like, expect to spend anywhere from $10 to $100 per hour and sometimes more, depending on their skill level and location. No app is the same, and they'll all cost a different amount to develop, so I can't give you an estimate for your idea. However, I can tell you how much my MVP app for LinkMe was. I designed the original app myself on Photoshop, so I spent nothing on the design. The development was simple. We only needed to show three things: the QR code scanner, a QR code generator and a user profile. Once you scan the QR code, then your profile will appear, and you're then able to see the name, number, email and all social media links for that user. All this ended up costing around $5,000. If your MVP is very complicated, you should think about removing some parts of the app to cut down on the cost. You can even request a price menu for each part of the app to get an idea of what feature or function is costing you the most.
I'm almost positive that you have already heard this, but you will always miss 100% of the shots you don't take. So, get to work and try your best. You only need to find two pieces to this puzzle: the designer and the developer. Go make it happen.
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