First off, I'll start by saying I read a few somewhat related posts, but I will still ask my question as my situation is slightly different and may call for different solutions. Anyway, here are the links:
I have the idea but no resources. What should I do? Should I outsource the development of my idea or develop it myself? And now my situation. I am making an online platform intended for a large audience on the scale of YouTube and Facebook communities. As you all may know, implementing such a platform is not trivial. While I am technologically skilled with a few years of Java programming I had to learn in college, and many years of working with computers in general, I am nowhere near the skill level needed to implement all the systems required for such a website. Working knowledge of HTML, CSS, AJAX, scripting languages such as PHP or Python, database management systems like MySQL, server configurations, Apache, and Linux is just something I don't have even though about 10 hours of my day ever since we got out for the summer has been devoted to learning these areas.
The surface level 'expertise' I have gained is far from the level needed to implement my idea into reality. I'm dropping out of school to pursue my idea full-time, but even with that commitment, it seems like a daunting task to become an expert in so many fields within a very short time. My goal is to have a working prototype by the end of the year in order to showcase the platform to investors. This goal either needs to be reconsidered to fit my learning needs, or i need to outsource the programming and server configuration to those already with the necessary skills.
Recently, I have been considering the latter, but am not sure if this is the right path for my situation. If you do feel this is a good choice, how would I go about outsourcing something like this which needs many different parts implemented that may require more than one person to complete? I know of the freelance websites where you give hackers a project and they bid on the price they will do it for, but would that really be a good choice for a large one like this? I also want to have full control over the design and functionality of the site, meaning that I would like to work with the person implementing the systems. What are your thoughts? Thanks in advance.
Don't drop out of college. Stay there, take some entrepreneurship classes and keep working on your idea.
I would suggest you find a technical co-founder who is interested in working on your idea. They will know how to put the technical side together more easily and efficiently than you would trying to learn it all yourself. You need someone who knows the technical road map.
The reason I say don't drop out of college is that I listen to hundreds of student ideas every year (including, inevitably ones for new social networks). The first idea (or even the next 100) than any entrepreneur has is rarely the one worth chucking everything in for. I am not suggesting that your idea is not a good one - just that the odds of it being a runaway success is not high. However, it is important to give it a go, as it may be great and at the same time you will be gaining valuable experience - which is what makes a successful entrepreneur.
So keep working on this idea, keep learning, keep doing entrepreneurial stuff and keep up with your studies as well. That way, you give yourself a lot of options, especially if for some reason, this idea doesn't work out the way you plan.
If you have interest in learning how to do it then I would say learn how to do it. Most successful start ups are created by the hands of the person with the idea. Shaping and forming it to exactly how they see fit.
Also regarding platform stacks. I have programmed significant projects in Perl, PHP, Microsoft .Net, PHP, and recently Ruby on Rails. Have launched hundreds of sites...
Learn Ruby on Rails. If you can find a local company that does Ruby on Rails and do some pair programming with one of them that would be awesome. Or post on Craigslist, or Zaarly for someone to teach you some Ruby on Rails. Maybe for ~$50/hr, after a week you'll be ready to start cooking on your own. RoR is so much more efficient from a developers stand point and it's pretty easy to learn if you have the TIME, which you do.
You will have to do it yourself.
BTW, have you considered using an existing social networking service (instead of reinventing the wheel)? What are you doing that is different from ning.com, grouply.com, pathable.com, socialtext.com, socialgo.com, etc, etc, etc? Or, maybe an existing social stack, such as SocialEngine or like?
You should do it yourself. You are finishing your college, full of energy and have the most important component: TIME.
Those freelance website, normally the "cheap" workers are not good enough to deliver something with quality, a code that can be easily extended and probably you will have to rewrite from scratch to make it right. For sure there is a lot of amazing developers there but they wont cost you less than $20/h.