How to Present Your Idea to a Developer

by Aaron Reimann

May 18, 2015

I’ve been in the web industry for almost 20 years. I run into people quite often with ideas where I could make big bucks, but I have never accepted the offer. Let me explain how the conversation normally goes.

Case #1:

We have Bob the developer, and Einstein as the one with the idea.

Einstein: I have an idea!
Bob: Ok.
Einstein: Well, it goes like this. (Einstein goes through a five minute ramble about the idea)
Bob: Well, what about this (Bob goes through a list of problems)
Einstein: Ok, well, you can figure it out.
Bob: Sounds like a lot of work.
Einstein: I’ll share ownership of the product.
Bob: I’ll think about it.

Einstein saw a need for a site or an app and thought it would be something he personally needs and struck up a conversation. Bob on the other hand, has realized that he is going to do all of the hard work. The work probably causing a good 100-250 hours for a MVP (minimal viable product) without any idea that it is going to sell. Bob also has his own ideas and doesn’t quite think Einstein’s idea is going to work out. Bob never brings up the idea again.

Case #2

This is based on a real conversation I had with someone. For this I’ll use Kathy as the person, but I really don’t remember her name:

Kathy: Can you meet at Buck of Stars for coffee?
Aaron: Sure.
(Conversation moves to Buck of Stars)
Kathy: I have an idea.
Aaron: Ok. (See, same response, people want me to be really excited normally before I know anything about the idea)
Kathy: I have an investor.
Aaron: Really??? (That is rare, very very rare)
Kathy: Yes, he is in Nevada and he wants you to sign a NDA (non disclosure agreement).
Aaron: Ok, I can, but in Georgia they carry no weight in court.
Kathy: Ok but you have to sign it.
Aaron: Ok. Signing.
Kathy: This is a mobile app we need developed. It heavily relies on GPS.
Aaron: Ok.
Kathy: So, they want it where if someone is in town, they will whip out their mobile device and see what is around. When people go there, they will let their friends know where they are and what they are doing via Social Media.
Aaron: Oh, like how when I got here I checked in via Foursquare.
Kathy: Huh?
Aaron: Yeah, I let everyone know I was here and look, you can look at a map and see where I am.
Kathy: Ok. Interesting. Well, what is really cool with our idea is that when people are in the area they will also get notifications about deals that are available with restaurants and what not.
Aaron: Yeah, kind of like this. (Aaron shows her on his phone how I see discounts in the area).
Kathy: Oh. What is this app called?
Aaron: Foursquare.
Kathy: I didn’t find that when I was doing research.

To cut this short, she left. I didn’t need to sign the NDA, and the didn’t have a product that millions weren’t already using.

Here is how to present a good and legit way to temp a developer to be involved.

  1. Do your research – Find out if your idea already exists and find out if it is any good.
  2. Find funding – Offering a developer a share of an untested and possibly not even needed product is pointless
  3. NDA – Non disclosures are pointless. You are going to scare away half of the developer if you make them sign that before you even tell them the basics of the idea.
  4. Sell them your passion – A developer is not going to be interested in burning hours on a product if you can’t sell them on your passion.
  5. Kickstarter – Maybe your idea is great, Kickstarter will let you know if your idea is a product that will sell.

If your idea is any good, it will sell. If your idea is any good, you will be able to get developers. Remember, Steve Jobs didn’t create much. He saw ideas, made them nearly perfect and then sold them.

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