I was wondering if anyone could provide some advise regarding an app that I've had on my mind for a while back but haven't been able to get off the ground due to being in full-time work.
Anyway, I attended the CF development week and that revived my interest in developing my app further but I’m a bit unsure as how to progress and wondered if you have any suggestions or advice.
Currently I can see four ways forward for me:-
1) Finding time outside of work to build on my original idea and develop a working prototype. This would mean I would have to learn CFML and programming to a more advanced level than my current knowledge and also find time outside of work. The upside being I would have developed my coding skills and would have the developed some the source code.
2) I raise the funds to hire developers to build the product for me. I imagine that this would be costly! However, not impossible.
3) I find a team of likeminded developers who find the project interesting and are willing to take things forward on a joint basis. I noticed that there was a number of companies at the CF development week. Also, someone mentioned the CF Community develops projects. I kinda don't know too much about the CF community so wouldn't know who to contact etc.
4) I also have a number of friends who may be interested in setting up a start-up company but obviously I would have to clarify the business idea and develop the product spec and figure out to launch and be viable etc.
Any ideas as how to proceed would be welcome 🙂
This is a really broad question, and I think the best way to answer it is to ask more questions.
How much experience if any do you have with CFML? Would this be your first experience building an app? Are you familiar with all the other stuff besides coding that's involved with building an app? (working with version control, creating documentation, figuring out the initial rollout process for your app, what's the minimum viable product for your app, etc, etc, etc). I'm not going to say outright that you won't be able to do this, but the days are pretty much gone where you can do this without having a fair amount of this under your belt already. The "easy" ideas have been taken, and there isn't much to gain by being a first mover if you can't keep things moving for future versions, etc.
How much money do you think would be needed to (a) build the first version of the app, and (b) build a company around this for future versions? Would you be able to do this without putting your existing livelihood at risk? If not, what level of risk are you willing to accept? (This is kind of the big question for all the other questions you ask, to be honest.)
"FINDING A TEAM"
This strikes me as the least likely unless you're filling a very broad need. And it's hard to identify needs that broad nowadays. As for the "CF community", well, you're in it right now! But a community doesn't mean you're going to find individual developers who have the same vision that you do. If you found five people, they're likely to have five different opinions about how to move forward. And there's nothing that can really stop them from taking your idea and implementing some variation of it on their own. Most programmers are not going to just sign some NDA for a relatively vague idea you're going to present - there has to be some meat on the table so to speak. At that point, you're basically down to the same problems you have in the section below: clarifying the business idea and developing the product spec and so on.
CREATING A STARTUP
So this is where things get complicated. I think you'll find that clarifying the business idea, developing the product spec, figuring out how to launch and be viable, are the hard parts. Programming is relatively easy in comparison. As a programmer, I more or less just take the instructions I've been given and implement them into code. If those instructions are good, that's great! If they're not, that's not so great. Programming is difficult enough that you might have trouble picking it up as a hobby, because presumably you spend lots of time doing something else, but it's not that difficult by itself. So, if your idea is good enough, and if you're able to do all the non-programming stuff above, you could just worry about hiring programmers once you get VC funding. But there are obviously lots of ifs there.
I hope you don't read all this and think, "this guy is trying to scare me off of doing this". Well, maybe I do a little bit. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "I have this great idea for an app" followed by a ten minute pitch for a really dumb idea. So I want you to keep in mind that even most good ideas fail. The market is a hard place. But on the other hand, I don't want you to just throw the idea away if you really think it's a good one. I just want you to go into this with your eyes wide open. I think you're going to have to find someone you can trust, who's good at the business side of things rather than the programming side, and try pitching your idea to them and let them shoot it down if they can. It'll save you a lot of money and effort. If you get through that, then you can talk about how to staff it and build a company around it and get funding and all that.
Dave Watts, Eidolon LLC
Thank you very much for your reply! From my perspective it really was an excellent response and has helped me think through how to proceed. FYI here's where I stand at present
How much experience if any do you have with CFML? Would this be your first experience building an app?
I have *some* experience with CFML from my early career (mid 1990's) when I developed a few desktop prototypes using CFML. However, these were not production apps. I found CF a quick way to develop prototype CRUD applications and provide a web interface for databases at the time.
Are you familiar with all the other stuff besides coding that's involved with building an app? (working with version control, creating documentation, figuring out the initial rollout process for your app, what's the minimum viable product for your app, etc, etc, etc).
I have a basic understanding of GIT and as I mentioned before most of my apps have been prototypes.
Would you be able to do this without putting your existing livelihood at risk? If not, what level of risk are you willing to accept? (This is kind of the big question for all the other questions you ask, to be honest.)
At present I wouldn't be able to put my livelihood at risk and have no idea how much to budget regarding either building a product or a company around it!
CREATING A STARTUP
Here's where you've really helped me to get a handle on how to proceed! I've put quite a bit of thought into how best to develop the app and I think that if I focus on developing the business idea, the product spec and finding someone to pitch my idea to that may be the best way forward for me.
However, I have no idea where to begin to attract VC funding or what sort of ammount would be needed. But at least I have something to aim for. (any further suggestions welcome!)
Thank you very much for your reply
Ideally, your app will benefit from all four! But I have a different take on your question.
You tacitly assume there is something in your idea to "app" about. What you have in your mind may or may not be viable as a product or service. There is a question to be answered even earlier.
My suggestion is that you first settle the question. Namely, is the idea viable or not?
That is a very difficult question to answer. It is not only technical, but also involves emotion and bias. Nevertheless, it requires few resources.
What's the service or product idea? How original is it? What's its ikigai, as the Japanese would say? What or whom will the app serve? How will it benefit the user? And so on.
The idea in your mind is an acorn in your hand. There is every reason to test hard for viability. A viable acorn is the surest way to get an oak tree. That is, to get your app off the ground.
Thanks for the pointers. In my mind the idea is viable 🙂 However, I think that the questions you raise are really helpful, in that I'm now aware need to clarify my thinking about this. I'll aim to answer those questions before putting together the spec for the app and hopefully improve it's viability!
Thank you very much for helping me clarify this!