Short background: I have a web startup idea which solves an existing problem. There are many online solutions available for the problem, but my solution is "unique". I have done a basic background check, and I am confident it would work, but obviously no one can be sure. It can only be tested once customers use it. Therefore getting to the market fast and testing the idea is really important. I have 2 options :
1) I am a software developer. If I develop my web startup idea with basic features, it will take me at least 6 months or more. All the code will be known to me and it will be easy to make changes. But it will be time consuming and require a lot of time and effort. If I have to fail, I want to fail fast, but putting a lot of effort and then failing does not make sense.
2) Outsource the development and get it done in less than 30 days. In this case I have not coded the portal myself so it would be difficult (not impossible) to make changes. But I can get to market faster.
My question: Which of the above 2 approaches is better? And is there a 3rd option?
Thanks in advance.
What is the time window for launching this? You don't want someone to beat you to it, but even then you can do it better than them and they may help develop the market; the number of ideas that have good potential and really have to be done before anyone else to succeed is fairly small.
Do you have to build and launch the full thing to test it? You could proceed step by step instead and see if any of your assumptions are wrong. For example, if you will get new users through ads, run some ads and see what the clickthrough rate is. Set up a landing page with a button to sign up and see how many people "convert" on that button. Start a beta program after a month or two and see how many people join. Put up some rough features in beta and see how many testers use them.
As long as you keep making a small hypothesis and then taking a small action to see if it's validated, you can learn a lot without waiting 6 months. If you spend 6 months locked up developing it, launch it, and it fails, how do you know if the failure is because of the idea, the promotion, the landing page, the signup process, or the functionality? How much can you cut back without compromising the core features, just to get something working quickly and see how people respond?
The final decision is a personal choice. If you spend 6 months building this and it fails, will you learn new skills you can use for other projects? If you invest in having someone else build it (without knowing your skill level and the idea, 30 days is very optimistic simply because of the time needed to make the requirements concrete and specific, communicate them, and verify the results) and it fails, will you get any value out of it? Which one is a bigger loss to you? Failing fast and trying something else is good - but how many times can you afford to hire someone to build something that doesn't work?
Since you are a software developer, I think you already have a big advantage when compare to those who don't have any coding skills and are looking to outsource the entire process.
So here is what I advice, I suggest you should indeed outsource the development and you manage the entire process.
When it comes to finding the right person / people to outsource the coding to, I suggest you go on sites link Elance or Odesk and do the following:
The reason you should do this is because you will avoid wasting time with those who do not have the right experience or skill to do your job.
Now in regards to how to develop the software, you obviously have more ideas on this than me, and I will advise you code using the "Agile Development" process which is used by a lot of Lean Startups; the idea is to code up the Minimum Viable Product / Service and let your users tell you through feedback how to improve upon it. This way you end up building what your users really need instead of spending time to add so many bells and whistles and they do not even need it.
I have several free video interviews on my blog on Lean Startup Methodologies as well as interviews with folks without programming experience who successful developed their iphone and Android apps by outsourcing it.
If you need access to them just Google "Owen McGab Enaohwo" for my contact information and I will gladly send them to you.
P.S I would have left links on my response to the interviews but folks on this site have been removing my links even after providing so much great value for free, now I have decided if anyone wants the free interviews ask me and I will provide them.
How much vacation do you have? If you have 2 weeks (or more), start outsource process, take your vacation and see where you are at that point. If you're where you want to be at end of two weeks, quit job and pursue it - you don't have to give two weeks notice.. If not, you have another decision to make.
Also, the outsource and it's done in 30 days is, in my opinion, optimistic.