Jonathan (a.ka. ‘Rocko’) is an aspiring entrepreneur with a great idea for a web-based business in the education sector: it’s a concept that he believes very strongly in.
Like many of us with ideas that can and should be implemented via the Internet, the technical aspects can be a real stumbling block – I mean, if you’re not a tech-head yourself, how do you get the damn thing developed without a budget?
That’s exactly the question that Rocko e-mailed to me earlier this month:
My question is about taking the necessary steps to get your website’s more technical aspects completed when you have no capitol to work with – how do you find an interested “angel”?
Well, I can tell you this …
I have been working on a web-based concept for a while now, and wrestled with the same problem. I obtained some estimates to have the site developed professionally and found numbers between $50,000 and $250,000 to do ‘properly’.
The problem is this:
You may be able to fund – or find partners to fund – such development, but I don’t recommend it for the following reasons:
1. By the time you develop it, your requirements / specifications for the project will have changed 50 or 60 times … the chances are that lots of small “how about we add this? and “how about we change this” will add up to a net 40% to 60% change in the way you originally envisioned the site
2. You will launch a Beta trial of your site (you’d better!) and will find a flood of user requests for changes: errors, omissions, and simple functional additions/changes that you could not have foreseen.
3. Your site will require plenty of maintenance – and, will probably need to be fully rewritten two or three times to cope with the architectural stresses of a hugely (we hope!) expanding user-base.
All of this adds up to one thing: super profits for the outsourced developers … they have you by the [BLEEP] and both you and they know it!
Think about when you last rehabbed or built a house: the contractor provided a great estimate for the work and you selected them … then they ‘found’ hidden problems that required supplementary invoices. It’s common wisdom that you should expect to pay 20% more than estimated for this kind of work …
… it’s worse in IT … much worse!
Realizing the above, I did the only sensible thing when we needed to rewrite our operating software for one of my businesses way back in 2000 (to cope with the Y2K ‘bug’ … remember that?): I hired an inhouse team.
I never regretted that decision … it turned out to be the ONLY cost-effective way that we could have operated.
But, for your little start-up, Rocko, how will you be able to afford an in-house team?
You will need three IT people: a back-end database designer/programmer; a user-interface programmer; and, a web-designer. Good people … and, you will need the best … will set you back $120K a year or more. Each!
So, how did I solve this problem for my start-up?
Simple, I found my team of three and offered them 50% of the concept to write, maintain, manage the site …