Profit share programmer?

Discussion in 'App Store Business, Legal and Marketing' started by d0vr, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. d0vr macrumors 6502a

    Feb 24, 2011
    Does anyone ever do programming for a share of profits? I have an application I would like to have made at some point, but I know nothing about Objective-C programming and I don't think I want to learn to be honest (though I will if there is no other option). I come from a web programing background. Basically I want to know how I would go about finding someone to take my graphics and what not and add the magic code to it in exchange for a portion of the profits. :)

    Is that possible and how would I go about finding such a person? Is there a website I could post the job on?
  2. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    I take it you don't mean "programmer gets a share of a profit", you mean "programmer donates his work to you for free, because you have no clue how to pay for it, then there might be a profit because the programming was free, or we don't, and the programmer gets a share of that profit, if there is any."

    Absolutely nobody in their right mind does.

    You say "I have an application" - no, you don't. You have an idea for an application. Everybody has ideas. Ideas are ten a dime. What counts is execution. I give ideas for products away for free all the time.

    BTW. Your signature is supposed to be funny, but doesn't exactly inspire confidence in your business acumen.
  3. Ap0ks macrumors 6502

    Aug 12, 2008
    Cambridge, UK
    Seems to me you should be researching start-ups, it sounds to me as that is what you're trying to do.

    You could:

    A) Form a company, then hire a contractor to write the program after signing non-disclosure and non-compete contracts. Higher initial outlay but if you believe in the product you should be taking the risk, and you stand to make money if the idea is good.

    B) Find a programmer willing to co-found a company on the basis of your idea. This will be harder as you'll need to find somebody you can trust and reveal the idea (at least partially) to somebody you may not know too well. Lower costs to begin with but a lot more potential for things to go wrong.

    Have you already written a business plan for your idea? If so you should know how much profit you could potentially see or how much money you can afford to spend on programmers and still turn a profit.
  4. jb510 macrumors regular


    Sep 19, 2007

    You say you "you come from a web programming background", but respectfully I'm a bit skeptical of that. As a web programmer myself I get dozens of inquires a year exactly like this "I've got a great idea, would you build it for a share of the profits?". If you had real experience as a web developer, I'd expect you to have the same experience and understanding of the marketplace.

    As said above, ideas are ten a dime (is that some metric version of dime a dozen?)

    You really have two choices:
    1) Find the startup money yourself and pay a programmer. That means taking out a loan from a bank (shocking how many tail to comsider this), found a bussiness entity and find investors, launch on kickstarter, etc...
    2) Find a programming partner passionate enough about your idea to participate for a share of ownership and profit. For them the promised profit is going to be seconday to believing in the idea, so get used to selling the idea and get used to them saying no a lot.
  5. d0vr thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 24, 2011
    This sounds like you did this once and got burnt or something... It was a question, but let's clear some things up. I didn't say I have an application period. But just for the heck of it, I'll rephrase. I have a hypothetical idea for an application that I believe could make developers (and just geeks who use osx in general) lives a little easier that I would like to see brought into the real world. Better? And you're right, it is all about execution. Aren't I basically just asking for ideas on how to execute the creation of my hypothetical application, beyond learning how to code for OSX myself?

    If the only way is to pay a developer cold hard cash, then so be it. But feel free to sue me for asking about possible alternatives. Also, I'm the type of person that believes not all programmers are great at UX or UI work. That's the work I would be investing my own time into.

    I haven't written a business plan yet, or done market research. If I go ahead with it, I will first create mockups and do some research. Find out if people would use the application, and how much they would pay etc. This post was just trying to find out the viability of starting it up with as low an outlay as possible.

    Just to clarify, the two options outside of coding it myself are, hire a coder and pay them a fee or start a company with a partner who is a coder, obviously each with their own challenges and risks?
  6. firewood, Feb 9, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2013

    firewood macrumors 604

    Jul 29, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    Yes. There are lots of startup companies initially funded by sweat equity.

    But depending on your business plan, you might be more likely to find an investor (family,friends,fools,angel or VC) than a programmer with enough business expertise to take the investment risk. The typical case for a programmer is months of work and lost alternate income usually resulting in zero profits to share. Huge investment loss. So the majority of experienced coders will usually want cash (time & materials or salary) instead.

    But try the business plan pitch circuit first, you might meet some potential partners there, or even find an interested investor.

    If you haven't put together a seriously convincing business plan yet, your current offered profit share is worth less than zero. The people you are trying to find will thus avoid you to the max.
  7. d0vr thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 24, 2011
    Thank you for the replies everyone. The suggestion for Kickstarter was a good one, and I might look into that, though I am worried about raising enough funds, as OSX is a somewhat limited market.

    Failing that, I'll try for the investor/business partner route and then I'll just fund it myself. Before all that I'll make a business plan, mockup and do some market research just to be safe.

    Again, thanks for the replies. Just to clarify by the way, I'm not looking for programmers now, this was just an early research post to find out what I'd have to do before looking to help me attract the right people. Hopefully I know what's needed now :)
  8. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    You seem to change your mind quickly. Without a business plan for it you really have nothing. That should have been your first step.
  9. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Most developers are highly intelligent and quite good at designing user interactions. User interface design, if it is done properly, is a full time job. Most developers would be quite good at it if they didn't have that other pesky full time job, making the stuff actually work. (That's the nice thing about user interface design, you just state that it works, and that's it. Developers live in this harsh environment where things don't work just because you say so. For user interface designers, problems they don't see don't exist. For developers, problems they don't see stop things from working).
  10. Brian Y macrumors 68040

    Oct 21, 2012
    Some will do that if it's an idea that's almost guaranteed success, or they're passionate about.

    I did it once - and the deal was "30% equity, or £3000 and returned equity if profit of less than £10000 after 2 years". Therefore, he got a programmer for free for the time being (cost 30% equity), and I had a fallback that if his idea wasn't successful, I'd be paid £3000 after 2 years - which was less than the market rate for the time I'd put in. Risk for both parties, but benefits for both too.

    If you're unwilling to do a deal such as the above, then what you're saying is "I have this idea that I don't really think is going to work, and I want somebody to code it for free.". No decent programmer will give your time for free - and hire a cheap/shoddy one, and nobody is going to buy your poorly built app.

    Also - don't limit your audience. Mac only applications are going out of fashion like there's no tomorrow. Cloud is in. Everyone wants web apps, possibly with desktop versions. I don't just want to be able to access an app on my Mac. I want to be able to do it from all of my macs, my mobile, and from any computer I want.

    Ever heard the term "jack of all trades". If you were refitting your house, you could get a plumber, an electrician, a plasterer, a painter & decorator, and a roofer. Or you could hire a handyman who could probably do them all, but at what quality?

    Personally - I'm a programmer. My roots are at developing, UI design is a hobby. UX design, however, I believes comes naturally to both sides. The best way I've found is to have a programmer dealing with the functional programming, a designer deal with the UI, and have the two collaborate on the UX.
  11. firewood macrumors 604

    Jul 29, 2003
    Silicon Valley

    Most highly intelligent people who are good at one are absolutely fooling themselves when they think they are any good at the other. Good coders often know less about human psychology/behavior/aesthetics and visual art creativity than other people of equal "IQ". That's why there used to be tons of bug free, but really ugly and barely usable mobile apps... until more developers started hiring designers.

    There actually are some people who are really good at both. But they are not anywhere near the majority.
  12. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    "Ugly and barely usable" is not the result of a developer who can't do it any better, but the result of whoever is responsible not willing to put in the time and effort. It's a full time job. Almost every good developer will be able to produce something, _given the time needed_, that is reasonably good looking and perfectly usable. On the other hand, I have seen user interface designers creating perfect looking monstrosities of unusability.
  13. firewood macrumors 604

    Jul 29, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    Nope. VCR engineers at top consumer electronics companies put in tons of time and effort to design VCRs that mostly blinked 12:00. They just had no idea how bad the VCR UI was to normal people. Same with lots of apps, until people with real UX expertise, and managers who actually listen to them, come along, and stop all that time and effort going into creating a mess.

    And, yes, there are good and bad UX designers, just like there are good and bad programmers. A few people are actually good at one or the other, fewer still at both.
  14. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
    Part of the problem with a VCR is that to put a good interface on it would have doubled the price.
  15. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    To make this enticing to anyone who is not a complete novice (who might do it for the experience but is unlikely to produce good code) you will need to:

    1) Work out the size of the market. This will have to be realistic, not just "1,000,000 people!"
    2) Work out how much of that market you can actually sell to
    3) From that what your total expected revenue will be.

    Once you have that you can say, based on my predictions (see working) I expect your share of the profit will be between x and y. The programmer can then scope the work required (yes you will have to explain your idea in some detail before they have agreed to work on it) and decide if that hourly rate is worth it or not. For many ideas the answer is no, it's not worth working for £1 an hour.
  16. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
    Does anyone else remember the 'game companies' that used to post help wanted ads for programmers and artists, one guy had all the ideas and once 'we work hard and make the game we split the profits equally'?

    Used to pop up on newsgroups, AOL message boards, and probably still show up on game programming web sites.
  17. dma550 macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2009
    IMO the only person that might bite on this would be a part timer, IE a developer that works for a bank or insurance company that has been dying to learn a new tech like cocoa or objective-c. I did this in my early days while working IT at a bank.

    I echo what others are getting at though. I am approached with 4-5 application ideas a year, and even the good ones flop because people are just fishing to get something done for free. They usually flop after a pitch to me, some written analysis and estimate I can never recoup, etc. It's something that people that make a living at this RUN from.

    As others suggest, the right way is Kickstarter if you have wide appeal. If not, Venture capital and contractors are the way to go, just like the good old days.

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