Which came first, the chicken or the egg? This seemingly funny, completely puzzling question has been applied to a whole host of situations. We've discovered over the past year that it applied to us.
Let's start by saying that the majority of people with an app idea do not know how to program. They also likely do not have the disposable income to mobilize a team of programmers to get their idea off the ground.
To get the right people to program your app, you'll need some money, luck, or both.
As we pitched our idea last summer, we were told by over ten investors that they would love to invest in the idea once we had a working prototype. They wanted to see that our idea would work - and with good reason. After all, many young entrepreneurs have good ideas; what sifts the successful entrepreneurs from the dreamers is the ability to execute and bring an idea to life.
This is the chicken and egg problem non-tech savvy entrepreneurs face when trying to create an app: they need money to hire people to create their app, but they need a working app to attract investors.
There are a few ways to overcome this issue:
1) Outsource development to India or Eastern Europe. Pros: cheaper. Cons: communication issues, you may get ripped off, in the long run you probably still want in-house developers. How to: visit Accelerance or a similar service.
2) Find a high school or college student who loves your idea. Where can you locate large amounts of young programmers who are enthusiastic about changing the world and joining a startup? Hackathons. Student hackathons are huge weekend-long events where hundreds of students form groups and hack away on novel app ideas. At the end of the weekend, the groups display their results at tables, usually in a stadium or large conference area, and VCs, professors, and other entrepreneurs judge the viability of their ideas. Hackathons have become immensely popular and now take place nearly every weekend of the academic year. My advice - go to one of these hackathons to get inspired, network, and potentially find your future programmer or co-founder.
3) Learn to code yourself by attending a programming bootcamp. These have also grown tremendously over the past few years. They're pricey, but within a few weeks you can equip yourself with more knowledge about programming than you'd think possible. A fellow Penn grad recently started a NYC based bootcamp called Horizons.
4) Get lucky by finding an investor who believes in your idea so much that he/she is willing to front the money before you have a working prototype. We happened to have an angel investor follow and mentor us on our previous educational pursuit, and this investor believed in our idea so much that she was willing to provide seed funds to hire a full-time team of programmers and developers.
We remain grateful to our angel investor for fronting the funds to get started. Had we not had that initial financial boost to galvanize NativeTalk, we perhaps wouldn't be here today.
It would be a darn shame if the next revolutionary app idea weren't developed because of this tricky chicken and egg problem. If you find yourself in a tough spot wondering how you're going to get your idea off the ground, just remember that you are not alone. Separate yourself from the rest and get creative on how to make a good enough product to attract investors.