You have an amazing idea. But it needs the support of a technology platform.
Many great businesses have started that way, moving from idea to app to “overnight success.” What a lot of people don’t see, though, is all of the months, and sometimes years, of hard work that come first.
That’s why finding the right partner to help you work on the right things is so important. Otherwise, you might spend a lot of time and money without realizing your vision. Unfortunately, finding that ideal partner also happens to be the trickiest part.
So, how do you select the tech partner you need? There are a lot of possibilities—almost too many.
No matter how your source that partner, one of the hardest things to find is tech expertise with a proven record of successful launches. This is not the time for a partner who’s just learning.
That’s because this isn’t just a question of “Can you build it?” It’s also a question of:
1. Should I build it?
2. Can you build it on time?
3. When is the best month/day/hour to launch this kind of product or service in market, and what factors should I consider in timing the launch?
4. Do you know how to target and promote the launch, to reach the right audience?
5. Do you have capacity to make last-minute changes?
(Spoiler alert: You are going to want last-minute changes.)
6. Can you help me scope the right budget?
7. Can you do all of this within the budget?
And these are just some of the more generic questions.
It’s clear that choosing the right tech partner is critical to your success. Having them answer these questions is just the beginning of the hiring process. You also need to decide what kind of tech partner you want, and how much of a role you want them to play.
Basically, your tech partner can be involved in one of three ways: a co-founder, a freelancer, or an agency. Here are some pros and cons of each option:
Pros: A co-founder is someone who fully shares in your idea’s funding and success. That means they provide the most capital and commitment of the three options. It also means they are committed to fill in the gaps and provide ideas to help the concept succeed.
Cons: All of that investment comes at a price, financially and conceptually. The co-founder will have their own ideas and agendas. They will also have a voice equal to yours in how the product or service evolves, and they will get an equal (or at least relatively sizable, depending on your model) share of the financial returns. If, at some point, you decide your idea needs a different type of tech support, you can’t switch co-founders. So, there’s not much flexibility to change.
Pros: In terms of pros and cons, a freelancer is essentially the flipside of a co-founder. You can replace a freelancer whenever you want, within your contractual limitations (if there are any). You have complete freedom for your business decisions and you can add another freelancer, or switch freelancers, if you decide that the project needs a different set of tech skills and expertise.
Cons: The flipside of flexibility is that freelancers will typically do what you ask, and no more. They’re not necessarily invested in your success, they don’t get paid to have long-term or big-picture ideas, and they won’t stop you from going down the wrong road. They’re usually just doing what they’re told, and they tend to have skills that are specialized in one area. So, they might not identify or communicate the skill gaps that you need to fill, if those gaps are outside of their specialty.
Pros: An agency will usually have a wider skillset than a freelancer, and might even offer more business expertise than a co-founder. That means they can combine business perspective with technical expertise to help ensure you cover all of the gaps and map a launch that leads to success.
Cons: An agency will not give you the same capital investment as a co-founder. It also might not offer the light-switch flexibility of a freelancer, although the completion of an agency relationship might provide you with a summary or trajectory analysis that helps you succeed going forward.
Startups are unique—it’s in the nature of a product or service that targets an untapped market. So, there’s no one template for a successful startup team. But there is one factor that can make or break them all.
When a startup begins to succeed, it quickly needs to scale—not just to make more revenue. That would be ideal. But often, you need to scale just to stay alive in the market.
Scaling up is not just a matter of “more.” Your startup team might need tech, sales, operations, and other capabilities, depending on its unique nature, and you might need those capabilities to scale at different rates. Scaling up is a careful reformulation, and a lot of startups get it wrong.
A freelance tech partner will not typically help in making those decisions, even if they try. They just don’t have the perspective. A co-founder will try, but a co-founder can also limit you by blocking decisions or pushing a different direction. An agency can give you advice for your review, so that you can choose to take action. But that only helps if you choose a tech agency that also understands scalability and the business side of startups.
At VAULT, we won’t tell you that we are the right choice for every project. You might need the capital investment of a co-founder, or the task-driven disconnect of a freelancer. But we have built our agency upon experience, structuring it to be what we think is the best partner for your success.
We have intentionally developed the technical capacity together with the business experience that startups require to launch their success, while still offering care and individual attention that will keep every launch aimed at each project’s potential. It also helps that most of our team has been through a startup or three of their own. We get it, so let’s talk about what we can do together.