The only way to accelerate innovation is to democratize quality product development.

Today’s best innovators, creators, and go-getters have a vision that we may never see come to fruition. That’s because in the current market, quality app development is still expensive and therefore not accessible for most bootstrapped or poorly-funded startups. Opponents will say that commoditization of the market, which is saturated with foreign service providers, has driven prices down. Right now, you can go to Upwork or Freelancer and hire an offshore developer happy to work for your local minimum wage. At face value, this sounds like an ideal economy for young startups strapped for cash and looking to start building, but most founders will tell you that their product development aspirations are still out of reach.

The app development market is generally comprised of two types of companies. There are the boutique “dev shops” and the classic “IT services firms.” Dev shops are young and trendy, they tend to work in coworking spaces and do their best to embrace other young companies. Like a local clothing boutique, these dev shops sell the same thing anyone can get much cheaper if they really want to. There’s plenty of them here in NYC and I suggest that you contact them if you’re 100% comfortable with and financially ready for the $150-$200/hour “market rate.” The other type of agency brings the same pricing, if not higher, without any of the “startup friendliness” that dev shops try to give off, although I don’t think that hourly rate sounds very startup friendly anyways. A quick Google Search will give you some names but most of these companies are too slow-moving and outdated to mesh well with an agile organization such as yours.

Simply put, the existing product development options SUCK if you’re a startup founder.

These circumstances are not just a barrier to entry for startups, but a barrier to innovation for society. When considering how impactful these kinds of technologies are on the daily lives of so many people, it makes no sense to me how difficult it is for innovators to innovate. We all thrive when good ideas become realities, but the current market, as commoditized as it is, has not made it easy. Quality app development needs to be affordable for startup founders to be able to actually start up.

Say you have an app idea that you believe will revolutionize industry “x,” and you’re all in on the business but still short on cash. You’ve done your homework and are ready to start building. The common goal of all startup founders is to get to MVP, seek feedback and traction, and validate the business as quickly as possible. It’s time to innovate and disrupt the industry, but instead it’ll take you six months to a year just to raise the money to get started.

Why must everyone go the conventional route? It seems today that everyone is focused on raising VC. Some build to innovate but others build just to raise more money. What ever happened to the lean and scrappy startups? Perhaps we’ve all become victim to the industry standard which not just dictates rates, but determines which ideas will be built and which won’t. In a democratized app development economy, everyone can contribute to innovation and growth.

I grew up fiddling around with tech. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I constantly wrote down ideas that I would later cross out for one reason or another. About two years ago, I had an app idea that I was finally ready to jump on. Of course I had a background as a web developer, but at this point in time I realized that in order for my future company to prosper, I would need to dedicate my time to the business end and leave the engineering side to a trusted partner. I heard stories about working with freelancers that made me cringe, and received “high level” quotes from local agencies that left me beyond discouraged.

I never acted on that idea, and I tell that story because I know I’m not the only young entrepreneur that has dealt with that situation. Some believe that as the VC landscape continues to change, only the businesses worth funding will actually get funded, and perhaps that is correct. Maybe it’s for the better that I didn’t waste my time, but I can only wonder since I was never able to take my product idea anywhere. At this point in my life, I’ve committed myself to making quality product development for startups more affordable, so that other innovators don’t have to continue to deal with the same issues the current situation presents. Contact us or chat with me if you’re interested to learn how I’m doing that.