Android · Android App Development

How do I get to an MVP without a technical co-founder?

Ernests S. Working on an app right now, looking for a co-founder

May 18th, 2019


I have an app idea, that I've created a business plan and a wireframe. Many people suggested that I get a technical co-founder, but I've given up on that (long story) and I think simply funding it myself would be much easier.

My question is - how do I get to MVP stage by myself? I can pay for the front-end, but the back-end is where it gets tricky, as I know how expensive it gets. I want to seek funding, but I know how almost impossible it is to get it, if I have no MVP.

I have a plan on how to acquire a user base, however, I have no idea about the technical side of things. I'd appreciate if some of you guys could guide me in the right direction!

Tony B All knowledge is self knowledge. Keep learning. Stay hungry.

May 19th, 2019


Congrats on having a good enough idea to get you excited enough to want to pursue. Let's jump in on a few quick thoughts.

Let's assume your idea gets shot down by everyone you meet or pitch to. Is the idea now still exciting enough for you to continue to invest your time and resources? If so, then let's look at some options.

If the idea is still good enough for you to want to pursue, then put your initial investment into a technical consultant; not a cofounder. You can find plenty of qualified candidates for this and it will only cost you a few hours of their time. Get the "technical" answers you need to prioritize your funding and MVP strategy. These answers would be things like the practicality and direction of your back end challenges (Is it reasonable), the type of developers and code base that might be best to work in for both the short and the long term (find a technology that allows you access to more talent); Basically, find out what can and can't work on a technical level and you will feel more confident moving forward and also communicate better with future developers regarding more accurate timelines, skills needed and agile pricing.

The more you know, the better off you will be so really pay attention and stay on top of your own self-education. There is always a chance that you could pull off your own app with some of these online app builders, but you'll need to talk directly with their support to find out if their tools coincide with the really tough backend development you feel is tricky.

If you can garner an audience wanting pitch decks or presentations you might consider hiring a UX person to develop a quick prototype of the key features of the app. This can be done in so many ways from a slideshow to an interactive demo; all without any coding. This will help keep costs low at the start and also give you something to hand off to your developers that shows them exactly what you want. Again, critical to accurate project scope, but really just an option if you are going straight into looking for funding.

It sounds like you're having a hard time finding a partner you can trust, so there are also options like business incubators and accelerators that you can fall on for support and resources in the beginning and then buy back equity once the ball is rolling. You'll really need to be generous and creative about this, but it's also an option.

There are dozens of other things you can do, but maybe we can get some other input on this for you. Feel free to message me directly or post more info in this thread with any additional details. There is always a chance to workshop some of this further right here within the community. Cheers!

Tony B.

Anh-Tú Phạm A Product design guy who wants to start a business -

May 22nd, 2019

Hi Ernests,

First, congrats on your startup idea.

As far as I know, an interactive prototype or some other testing techniques such as fake door MVP could help. You can Google on how to create one or just give me a DM via Linkedin in case you need further advices. I have a little of time for side project, if your idea could really solve people's problem, I'm willing to help you to create one for free.

My Linkedin:

Wish you all the best,


Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

May 19th, 2019

Why an app? What other formats could your solution be in that are less technically specific? An MVP is not a development project. An MVP is a planning project. The very, very last step is building the thing. 80% of the process of getting to an MVP should be research and testing of ideas. What are your assumptions? How can you test those assumptions? How do people react to your idea? What do they not understand about your product? Are they demanding a solution or are you putting this out hoping people will adopt your solution over some other?

Until you understand your product/market fit, it's likely a waste spending a dime on software coding. If you have no clue how the technology works, this might not be the business for you. Even a non-technical founder needs to understand why something is built the way it's built and why the technology chosen is the right technology and what the other options for underlying technology could offer in contrast to the initial idea.

How do you know your user acquisition plan will work?

You stated you have a business plan, but it isn't clear that your plan addresses key risks and rewards yet or justifies the technology decisions you're assuming are correct.

You can certainly pay for technical advice, and maybe that's the next step in testing some of your assumptions. Is there a more effective way to deliver your product that is not so specialized? Do people who do the thing you're trying to enable even want an app to do it? What are they doing now that's so different you'll stand out by at least 50%?


May 19th, 2019

Turn some of your largest 'users' into back-end partners. They help brainstorm, test and fund your initial beta version. Of course they're free for life, but you get the resources and feedback that's required ... all the while, side-stepping investors (and dividend payouts).

Naiem Yeganeh

Last updated on May 21st, 2019

I have strong tech background, founded my startup left my very well paying cushy job to work 14h/day 7 days/ week for no pay. So yes, expect to be very hard to get someone do that for you unless you are an extremely charismatic leader that other leave their lives to follow your dream.

For us normal people, we need to find shortcut solutions.

Good news is that the business is what matters, not the tech behind it. Listen to the "Masters of Scale" podcast, episode featuring AirBnb founders.

Here are a few ideas to get some traction on your business without building an app, this is what called MVP. You should really think hard to find the "minimum" in MVP:

1 - Create an app + website, that does not work, which is just a demonstration of what the app will be and a place to sign up.

2 - If your app is a business in real world, e.g. you are providing house cleaning service, you can have only a single input and manually manage everything on the back with excelsheet.

3- Find a hack that lets you do your business without building an app.

"In order to scale, you need to do things that don't scale", Reid Hoffman

Remember, startup is hustle

And why it works?

Doing scrappy things like what I suggested, is the definition of MVP. Once you find something that works, if you can get people to buy something before it is launched, or any indication that your idea will actually work in real world, finding a tech co-founder or raising money becomes much easier.

One last thing:

> I want to seek funding, but I know how almost impossible it is to get it, if I have no MVP.

It is very hard to raise money even if you have MVP. The only thing that makes it easy to raise money is traction. You can write 1 million lines of code, and no investor will care. You can get 1000 paying customers, and everyone will talk to you.

Louis Lim Founder, CEO Helios Eos

May 22nd, 2019

Use Firebase for the start, it’s literally free or $25 dollars a month. Integration for a simpler version of the app works too. - that is for backend. Your app just have to do what it needs to do. The simpler the build is the faster and cheaper it is. A lot of people tell you to get a technical co founder. But rarely people will quit their job to join you full time. Simply because it’s not proven. You then have to gather the feedback and pitch at the same time. If you need a prototype, go to sites like marvelUI to give an illustration.