Programmer's Advice/Opinion about Partnerships

Discussion in 'iOS Programming' started by lovetheduns, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. lovetheduns macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2008
    So-- before I get potentially burned and flamed) I am not trying to solicit someone for a job--I really want some advice and perspective from the developer/programming side. I am not even sure if I can proceed with my ideas as I am waiting for my Ethics Office at my day job to approve or decline my ability to create a particular iPhone app(s).

    So-- in my day job I am a Business Technology Analyst (i.e. I get requirements from the business and work with systems and development to implement based on costs, feasibility, etc etc).

    Since having the iPhone I have had a couple ideas and I was actually thinking of making my own mini start-up to execute the said ideas.

    I have zero experience in coding--- and I know I could go back to school and take a few programming classes (which I have to do anyhow for the pre-reqs of the MIS program I am applying for) but I have one idea for an app that I would like to execute. There is currently absolutely nothing like it (that has been released in the app store) and I think it is actually something useful and marketable. I have the basic design ideas fleshed out and I have started organizing the requirements (as there will be a calculation component).

    My dilemma is that since I have no true coding skills (and I know no Apple developers or the ones I know would not be able to help due to their own Ethics departments) and since I truly have no budget or excess funds to splurge on a developer, I was wondering if I created a business proposal to share profits and develop a partnership if this would be something that most developers/programmers would scoff at or run far far away from.

    For my particular idea (the easiest one I have) there would be significant requirements work, database building, testing, etc which I would be able to do so I think a partnership would be fair. However I am not sure if this is even accepted in the freelance dev environment.

    My hope is to actually create a small partnership done completely legally with rights accorded equally to both members, all members, etc.

    So basically I would like to know everyone's thoughts and advice as to what is important to you, would this arrangement be even remotely appealing, and then if so where in the world would you suggest I even start to find such a person(s), and if this arrangement is not appealing then what would be?

    Thanks so much!
  2. xsmasher macrumors regular


    Jul 18, 2008
    Know what you're bringing to the banquet.

    I don't mean to be discouraging but... prepare for the harsh. :(

    You need to be very clear about what you're bringing to the partnership - other than great ideas, I mean. I have more ideas than I have time to execute, and so do most other devs, I'm sure. So what else are you bringing? Capital? Business experience? Requirements building, database building, and testing are good. Just make sure that what you're bringing to the table is a good match for what the programmer is bringing (hopefully they're bringing coding knowledge and experience.)

    This article is came-centered, but it'll help bum you out some more:
  3. DipDog3 macrumors 65816


    Sep 20, 2002
    You are contributing no skills.

    You are contributing no capital.

    So you contribute nothing and the developer does all of the work.
    So the developer would get all of the money!
  4. lovetheduns thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2008
    Thanks xsmasher:

    I completely understand what you are saying. I do not have pipe dreams of thinking some programmer is going to code for me for no return so that I can make gabillions. I also have no illusions about having a wisp of an idea and then thinking that is a true partnership. *lol* I am not delusional.

    So what I offer:

    Business Experience: I have significant business/operations experience with the utility I would like to develop: including the necessary calculations, the compliance data, etc etc.

    Requirements: Working in tandem with the above, I have the resources, knowledge and expertise, and the would be defining the actual requirements based on what is accepted in the industry for which this utility is based upon.

    Database Building: Covered much in the same-- although this would be a pretty simple data store-- but I would also have that covered. The same can be said for the testing

    All of those things are encompassed in what I would ordinarily do in my "day job" and albeit on a much much smaller scale than what my day to day is.

    With what I want to do (and this is not a simpler tip calculator nor is it a complex game such as Monkey Ball) unless the programmer is entrenched in my industry I would sincerely doubt that they would be able to scoop up all of this knowledge, appropriate requirements without investing just as much time into learning what I do and bring as I would have to do to learn his/her craft. I feel pretty confident saying that based on my real world experience and my day-to-day experience in my own job (and this even based on the fact most of my current agile dev team has been working in my industry for 5-10 years each).

    The thing I lack is capital (besides the obvious lack of coding skills)-- I guess ultimately I don't want an employee/employer relationship but more of a partnership (i.e. just not hiring a contractor for a project and moving on). With what would be required out of myself, I would be putting in a lot of upfront unpaid work as well--

    Thanks for the url-- I will take a look. It could be as the response below yours I may have to extend out to my personal network to find someone who is also as willing to take the chance as I am.
  5. lovetheduns thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2008
    Well I guess if the developer would pay me for my end of the work, I would not have a problem with that. ;)

    Perhaps my reply to xsmasher is clearer to this point. I sincerely doubt with what I want to have developed that a developer would be able to create this without my input and knowledge (or well someone with my breadth of experience and knowledge in the industry I work). I imagine if they wanted to invest a considerable amount of time into the industry standards, regulatory information, business requirements they could but I would think that would be as counter productive as me spending the next several years learning Objective C and becoming able to make a crap app. *lol*

    But if there is a developer who could that-- i would more than love to have their resume to forward onto my leadership because I know they would be VERY interested and offer a massive package to that person. ;)
  6. DipDog3 macrumors 65816


    Sep 20, 2002
    To answer your original question with brutal honesty, you're not going to find a developer to help you. Anyone who is any good at writing iPhone Apps is doing just that, and they are doing it for themselves. Developers are not suffering from a lack of great ideas, we all have hundreds of great ideas. Our problem is that we don't have enough time to develop them all. So no one is going to take time off from creating their own apps that they can immediately sale on iTunes to partner with you to split the profits.

  7. coolman macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2008
    La Coruna, Spain

    As others said, such kind of partnership is difficult to achieve.

    We (developers) see and lately increasing a lot of messages similar to yours due to the iphone.

    Learn Objective-C as we are trying it wouldn't cost for you years.

    I only wish to have more time, just time.
  8. alexcurylo macrumors newbie

    Aug 14, 2008
    Oh, there's lots of problems besides that, at least with my ideas. Licensing rights, content creation, competitive landscape ... it goes on for a while. Although time is indeed a very big one yes.

    Oh, I wouldn't be quite so hasty with my generalizations. If this fellow does indeed have some domain-specific knowledge I would find hard to acquire on my own, *and* the domain in question strikes me as being less competitive and/or more profitable than any of the ideas of my own simmering, I'd certainly grab the opportunity. So that's a fairly high bar, but it's certainly not insurmountable.

    Send me more details if you like! I'm finishing up my first project, a game port, right now and should be ready for the next in a week or two.
  9. firewood macrumors 604

    Jul 29, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    fund raising

    If you have enough business and marketing experience and a top notch idea with a complete business plan, then you should be able to raise funds (for instance from the iFund, other VC firms, or angel investors). Then you will be able to offer developers both a healthy pay rate and potentially juicy stock options as well.

    If you can't present a good enough idea to raise funds from experienced investors, why should experienced developers invest their time in such a weak or poorly presented business plan?

    If that's the case, your best option if you still really believe in your idea, is to invest huge amounts of your own time and money.
  10. lovetheduns thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2008
    So thanks for the comments. :)

    Alex-- your post is actually in line with what I was thinking/hoping.

    I am sure that many developers out there have TONS of app ideas and some of those ideas are probably really fantastic ones and I can imagine others are just okay (law of averages and the 80/20 rule)-

    However what I have is something pretty domain specific BUT what would appeal to many (i.e. this app would not have to be marketed to people in my industry quite the contrary for most people it would be of considerable use-- the complexity of the knowing the industry it resides is why I think it has not been done because of the variables that someone like me knows and that dev groups typically do not have nor the first hand knowledge of when those variables change, or which ones matter, prioritization, etc As I said I know this from experience as well as I live this day to day in an organization of over 60k employees so it is not as if I am speaking from some mom and pop shop industry). Ah, but my point here is not to try and "sell" my undisclosed idea. :p I still have to hear from my company's ethics department who could come back and legitimately tell me "hell no" too close to what I do day to day. So then all of this is a moot point and my other ideas need a lot of R&D which will give me some time to develop my own personal network with the folks I currently know or until some of the "get rich with the iPhone mania" dies down.

    I will say this, I think the over generalization that no other developer would be interested because they have their own projects is pretty myopic. To think that no one who is a not a programmer would have nothing to offer to a dev/programmer in terms of a good, marketable, app (which does not appear to have any true competition) complete with design, requirements, data, calcs pretty sad. It is as ludicrous as if I were to state here blankly that the reason we have so many tip calculators and crappy novelty pay apps is because developers lacked help from a business perspective. ;) I for one am not one to not give adequate consideration to something that may be more profitable than my own idea if there is a "something in it for me" type of thing.

    I had thought about the iFund, but I believe from what I have been able to garner is that you need to be a little bit more established than what I am currently. And as someone who has had chunks of "juicy stock options" which never materialized, I will not even go down the VC route until all my proverbial ducks are in order.

    For the immediate future, I will see what my ethics department says, and I believe I will go ahead and actually start trying to dabble in the Obj.C world to give myself a reference point and extra knowledge.
  11. DipDog3 macrumors 65816


    Sep 20, 2002
    Good Luck :)
  12. Mac Me Up macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2005

    As I think most people have already pointed out, ideas are pretty useless on their own, until you execute on them.

    Having said that I think people are being a bit harsh, you could easily find a developer to help you out, but I reckon you'd be better off finding someone you know. Do any of your friends or family program? They are much more likely to help you out for no initial money than a developer is. Also teaming up with some random developer on the net could be fraught with all sorts of peril, for both parties. If a friend had a cool idea I'd help him bring it to fruition, but if some guy on the internet I'd never met had one, well I wouldn't even think about it. I think most people are the same?

    Good luck learning. I suggest you check out some of the videos on the iphone dev site to see what's involved. You can get to those even if you don't pay the $99 developer fee.
  13. Greencardman macrumors 6502


    Apr 24, 2003
    Madison, WI
    I also disagree with some of the harsh comments. Yes, to actually get an iPhone app in the store you need a developer. But a lot of work goes on outside of coding, and a lot of work will happen to promote and run a business after the app is in the store. Sure, the OP might not put a lot of work in in the beginning compared to the coder, but its assumed he will be putting in all the work once the coding is done. A business doesn't stop needing work once the app is done.

    If you can prove using reasonable estimates that the money is there, I think you could convince someone to go in with you, or convince people to put up money to get it made. One thing you could try is getting potential customers together to put up money. Sure, you won't make as much, but its better than nothing. If all you can say is "I bet people will buy this," then you need to do a little more work before you'll be able to convince anyone.
  14. txmike macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2008
    The real question is...

    Do you have customers who are interested in purchasing/funding the project?

    Customers are also very good at providing insights into what their requirements are.

    Just remember a solution needs to have a problem and that problem has to be worth a customer getting rid of it or you don't have a business.

    If you have all these, I'll be glad to hear what you have to say.
  15. xsmasher macrumors regular


    Jul 18, 2008
    Reverse the pile-on!

    OK, lovetheduns; I'm feeling guilty about starting the big pile-on, so I'll throw in some contrary thoughts.

    Right now developers are calling the shots, because the barrier for entry into the dev program and the app store is so low.There's an open market for one-man apps, so developers (like me!) think they no longer need the managers, marketing team, QA staff, and others that stifle their creativity at their day jobs. Lone wolf is the way to go. Take that, useless managers, Dilbert is soo true, etc. etc.

    How will things change in the future? The market for one-man apps will dry up to nearly nothing. Seriously. How many of the web sites you visit, games you play, music you listen to, and computer programs that you buy were created by one person? Almost none.

    Remember the 90's, when two guys who knew HTML could become superfamous overnight? That's the app store now - low barriers to entry. But as you've noticed, big corps are running the web now. Amazon, Google, and Wikipedia are not run by lone wolf techies.

    As the competition gets stronger, apps built by one person will get pushed out by multi-function apps that were designed by real interface designers, marketed by real marketers, and built by teams of programmers, front-end and back-end. That will be your time to shine, especially if you're good at organizing teams of people.

    Feel better?
  16. lovetheduns thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2008
    Hi MacMeUp!

    Thanks for the advice (well everyone thanks for the responses, advice, etc).

    I am currently awaiting for my company's Ethics department to approve, decline my ability to continue with this endeavor. Ultimately, if they say no- then I will have to give up this one idea until later (i.e. if I no longer work for them).

    At any rate--- I have downloaded the kit, some of the videos, and I have been lurking here and elsewhere. I am also working my way through become an Xcoder book--

    I am also networking with those that I do know-- my luck so far is that no one has worked with Apple apps before or just do not have the time (I did connect with a guy who has made iPod apps and OSX apps-- but he just had a brand new baby and is in the process of building a house so he is too busy to get involved in a pet project)-- so we shall see. One of my acquaintances is a programmer with C and Java-- I am awaiting for him to get back from a Asian vacation tour (he spending a couple months overseas through China, Nepal, etc) to talk about it more in depth with him.
  17. lovetheduns thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2008
    I have talked to multiple people (I have been cautious about who I have spoken to for obvious reasons) and everyone that has heard the idea has been, "OH very very cool! I would definitely use something like that-- especially if I could do.... this .... and this... and this.... then you could ask like even more money for it."

    These people have ranged from folks in my industry to people who have nothing to do in my industry. Everyone has been pretty excited about it.

    Quite honestly, I would think that even the majority of the people on this forum would want the app as it is very relevant to all of our lives. ;)
  18. lovetheduns thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2008
    *laughs* xsmasher no need for apologies. If anything, DipDog and you both made me have to really stand up and rethink how to approach anybody about this venture-- constructive criticism provides an opportunity to take that feedback and overcome it.

    I do agree with what you said about the current state of the App store and developers. Honestly-- I think there is a place for all of us-- I am more than content to be patient and take that opportunity when it is available. Besides with this one-- the requirements gathering, design, and various other pieces of work needed that I can do is pretty expansive-- even much so than what I had anticipated for myself.
  19. Mac Me Up macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2005
    I like your enthusiasm let us know how it all goes ;)
  20. psingh01 macrumors 65816

    Apr 19, 2004
    Don't let them discourage you. You can be the Steve Jobs to some poor sap's Steve Wozniak. We all know Woz was the brains, but Jobs still came out ahead.
  21. Greencardman macrumors 6502


    Apr 24, 2003
    Madison, WI
    I don't know about that. Jobs isn't dating the amazing Kathy Griffin :)

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