Should You Work With an External Development Team?

Starting a new development project is never easy, but hiring your own in-house developer(s) can be quite costly and even more difficult. As the Co-founder of a startup, you almost certainly are low on time, cash and mobile development expertise. Contracting out to an experienced mobile development team can get the mobile aspect of your product up and running quickly, professionally and economically.

Hiring In-House Developers

Hiring a full-time mobile app developer comes with significant costs both in the short and long term. In the short term, the main cost is the time you must spend determining how to recognize an experienced candidate that fits your company’s culture. Then you must actually build a pool of candidates using LinkedIn or your own personal networks. Once you have a good pool of candidates, you need to interview them to ensure they not only are passionate about your project but also have the skills needed to do the work. Hiring a developer means paying an additional salary now and later even once your active development needs have been reduced. Consider that it will cost you around $10,000/month to hire a single, quality developer plus the costs of advertising the open position.

Hiring an Experienced Mobile App Development Studio

If you don’t have the time or the requisite knowledge to build your own team, your best choice is to contract out to a mobile development studio. There are development companies, like 12Rockets that have teams of highly skilled software developers, project managers, and designers that specialize in breathing life into other people’s ideas. The advantage of hiring a development studio is in the ability to get started with the project quickly. These companies have delivered dozens of apps before so you won’t have to worry about estimating the scope of development and meeting important deadlines.

When interviewing different companies, you should describe your project in the same way and with same materials if possible. This way it will be easier to evaluate competing teams.

Here is a short list of things that you should pay attention to when vetting potential development partners:

  1. Understanding – How much effort has the team put into understanding and investigating your idea. The questions they ask can be a good indication of the effort they’ve placed into understanding your idea.
  2. Costs –  How much will hiring an external development team cost and how much are you willing to pay?
  3. Availability – Ask the companies when they can start and be honest about your time expectations.
  4. Language – English is one of the main languages of the global market so it is important that everyone writes and understands English fluently.

I put together the scope of the work for a proposal, and I sent that around to vendors who seemed interested and had the time and skills we needed. 12Rockets came back with good questions, which showed a deep understanding of the technology we were working with. It was clear that they read and understood the proposal, and they came in with a very favorable bid. So, the combination of those two factors made them the easy choice.

– Software Engineer at i1 Biometrics –


Once you find a company that meets your expectations, you are ready to begin the discovery phase. When starting a new project, the best approach is to test your new partner by working together on defining the project MVP. This will give you first-hand knowledge of their expertise and an opportunity to see how well you work together while still making progress on your project. The discovery phase is vital for creating a great project. It helps the development team to understand your specific business objectives and target demographic while also answering any remaining questions and framing the development work to be done.

If the discovery phase goes well, you can move forward with that team to finish the project. If not, at least you saw the whole process and took the time to work through your ideas. This discovery phase can also help you to more easily explain the idea to the next team.

The Additional Advantages of Hiring an External Development Team

As mentioned before, project costs and timeline are the main reasons why startups decide to go with an external development team, but they aren’t the only reasons:

  • Professional quality assurance testing on a wide range of devices
  • Assistance defining the scope of the project and solving technological problems
  • Additional design and marketing support

Remember that a lack of technical skills shouldn’t be a roadblock for moving forward with your idea. By hiring an external development team, you will be able to keep your focus on marketing and selling your product.