Creating a mobile app can set you back anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000+. If you’re short on cash or just starting out, that price tag can seem prohibitive. You may be tempted to cut corners — but when you develop your app on the cheap, you can run into all sorts of problems, including low-quality performance and security issues.
Don’t let the high price of development keep you from creating your mobile app. Instead, look for alternative ways to fund your project, including the following:
1. Build and Monetize a Prototype
You can build a mobile app prototype using the minimal resources you need to create a viable product. Then, you can use the prototype to gather feedback from users and generate some revenue to fund the full development.
Consider using affiliate links within the prototype app to generate money. Be sure to explain to your users that the affiliate links are only temporary and will be used to fund future development of the app. This allows you to build trust and loyalty with prospective buyers, all while building the necessary funds to create the final product.
2. Get Funding for Your Birthday
The next time someone asks what you want for your birthday, consider asking for funding. Cynthia Kersey pulled this off back in 2008 when, for her 50th birthday, she threw a party and requested that guests donate $100 instead of giving her gifts. These donations were used to fund the building of schools in Uganda, a mission dear to Kersey’s heart. Eventually, from this initial fundraiser, Kersey would go on to start The Unstoppable Foundation, which brings education to children and communities in developing coountries.
3. Leverage Social Media
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are great ways to finding funding for your app.
For example, you could join a relevant Facebook group and share the story of your app. You could direct interested members of the group to donate via Patreon or another fundraising platform. Follow up by creating content that is interesting, relevant, and valuable to your target audience. This will showcase your passion and keep people engaged, motivating them to help you bring your app to life.
4. Try Crowdfunding
If you want to raise funds while hedging your risks, pre-selling your app, and building a pool of loyal customers, consider crowdfunding.
From Indiegogo to Kickstarter, there are tons of options for crowdfunding your business. Oculus Rift successfully used this method to support the development of its virtual reality app and device before being bought by Facebook in 2014. The company motivated people to participate by offering perks like discounts and early access to products in exchange for donations. You can apply these tactics as well — just make sure you fulfill any promises you make.
5. Enter an App Contest
There are many app contests run by investors and incubators where the top ideas win money to fund development. The contests are highly competitive, and you typically make a pitch to a set of judges, mostly investors. If you want to go this route, make sure your pitch is fantastic. You’ll need to prove your app changes lives to win money.
6. Rent Out Your House
To get the initial capital for her business, deliberate LIFE magazine founder and editor Fay Johnson put her apartment up for rent. The founders of Eversnap did the same thing, which I learned firsthand when I rented their apartment on Airbnb!
Rahul Varshneya is the cofounder of Arkenea.