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How to Find & Hire App Developer for Your Startup: A Definitive Guide

Whether you are building a mobile app for your own startup or creating a mobile app for a client, finding and hiring an app developer is a crucial phase. The time you put in, the money you spend and the result you get is all dependent on the choice of the developer.

But, why is hiring app developer so hard? Especially when there are 21 Million professional software developers in the world today.

Well, the abundance of mobile app developers is what makes the choice tricky. Think about it, if you had to choose the best from three, it is an easy decision. But, when you have to make one perfect choice from 30 options, the choice becomes difficult.

So, when it is time to hire app developers for your startup, you have to narrow down the options. You must also be specific about what kind of skill sets the ideal app developer must have and also set a higher benchmark to get the best value.

How many app developers should you hire? There are two factors that determine the number of developers you would require.

First, the complexity of the app matters.

Second, how quickly do you want to build the app?

If you are like most startups, you must be having a world-changing idea that should have been shipped yesterday. However, when you are hiring app developers for your startup, there is one thing that you must never compromise on. It is the quality of developers.

If you have two great developers compared to half a dozen of barely experienced developers, go for the former option (even if they charge a bit more). In the debate of quality vs quantity, it is quality that always wins.

Without further ado, let us get into the discussion of how to find and hire app developer for your startup. Here are some of the steps that will help you find the best app developer for your startup.

Steps to Find and Hire an App Developer

Broadly, there are five steps that help you find the best developer. Of course, these are indicative in nature and not an exhaustive list of steps.

  • Identify the business needs
  • Zero in on the technology to be used
  • Deciding whether to hire in-house or outsource
  • Choosing the destination for IT vendor
  • Choose the model of hiring

1. Identify the business needs

Strange as it may sound, hiring the best app developer begins identifying your business needs. There should be proper clarity on the problems that you expect the developer to solve. Like Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.

The best developer would be someone who can understand the business and its problems from an external perspective and apply his or her skills to provide solutions.

2. Zero in on the technology to be used

In the past decade, new technological innovations have come to the forefront that did not exist in the past fifty years. Think cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality and the likes. These technologies have largely influenced mobile app development as well.

Augmented Reality:

Augmented reality is an immersive reality technology that blends digital information over physical spaces or objects when they are viewed through a screen. Augmented reality app development is a niche field and requires the developer to be well-versed in several API and SDK development. The expertise required also extends to native app development for Android and iOS.

Virtual Reality:

Similar to augmented reality, virtual reality is an immersive reality. It revolves around the user, placing them in virtual environments that are created with computer-aided design and coding. Needless to say, virtual reality development requires a lot of programming and critical thinking abilities that goes beyond ordinary programming expertise.


GPS-based geo-navigation which was once the privy of space explorers is now available for domestic use. From everyday navigation to on-demand services, there is a long list of geo-navigation use cases. If your business wants to develop a navigation-based solution, then an expert in that field is a prerequisite.

Artificial Intelligence:

Google. Facebook. Amazon. Why even Tesla has gone neck-deep into Artificial Intelligence. The world of cognitive computing is heralding a new way of working and living for businesses and individuals. Almost every mobile and web application that is getting launched has an ounce of AI embedded into it. You need data scientists in your team if your startup to create something unique in the AI space.


Building an online store is more than creating any other ordinary website. There are store integrations, payment gateways, store management and several other intricacies that need to be developed from scratch. Even if you want to use an existing eCommerce platform other than custom development, you would need a developer’s help to get it done.

3. Deciding whether to hire in-house or outsource

Unlike hiring for any other operation, when it comes to hiring a mobile app developer for your startup, you are showered with multiple options. Each option has its own share of pros and cons. Depending on the purpose for which you are hiring the developer and the direction that your startup wants to take the choice would differ.

Broadly, there are two options that you have when hiring a developer: in-house or outsourcing.

In-house hiring refers to the complete selection, onboarding and managing of a developer directly.

Outsourcing refers to awarding the development as a task or as an assignment to an external app development agency, company, or an individual who could be working remotely.

Here is a quick take on the pros and cons of each route:

The Pros and Cons of Hiring In-House Vs. Outsourcing


The primary differentiator of in-house and outsourcing is the cost involved. Prima facie, in-house recruitment costs a tad bit more. The reason you have to pay a fixed salary, overheads for employee engagement and also bear other proportionate office overheads like power, IT infrastructure, employer taxes, etc.

Outsourcing, on the other hand, lightens the pressure on your budget. You can assign the project to an agency or a company that has developers at their disposal. The merit of this route is that the cost of the project is capped at a specific limit. Any extra cost incurred would have to be borne by the agency/company.

Payroll management:

One of the trifling issues in hiring an in-source developer is payroll management. If your startup is reasonably sized, like even with a dozen employees, you have to spend a considerable amount of time on payroll management.

Where in an outsourcing setup, there is no need for payroll management. It is the responsibility of the agency/company to manage every aspect of employee management, including payroll management.

Fixed contract:

An in-house developer is a resource who can switch from task to task depending upon internal requirements.In outsourcing, the scope of work is frozen with a fixed contract. There is little room for change in the scope of work.


An in-house app developer is a perpetual resource. Your startup must incur perpetual expenses of salary and other expenses as long as the employee-employer relationship is maintained. In other words, it is more or less a rigid arrangement that is bound by law.

Compared to an in-house developer, in outsourcing, the association with the agency terminates upon completion of the project. There are no future transactions unless a new project is awarded with a fresh scope of work, budget and timelines. This makes it ideal if the startup has short-term projects with a shoestring budget.

4. Destinations to hire an app developer from

IT services has turned the world into one small village. It is now possible to hire app developers from any country in the world. But, there are several factors you must consider before identifying your IT outsourcing destination. Ultimately, your software is going to double up as a partner for your digital growth. Depending on the destination from where you hire the developer, their skills, knowledge in development and also exposure to the latest cutting-edge technologies will vary.

Developer pool:

The size of the developer pool matters a lot. The bigger the pool, moe the options you have to make a final choice. There are also other factors that make up an ideal developer pool like English-speaking population, cultural values, time zones and so on.

Considering all these factors and many others, the following countries are recognized as the world’s top countries for outsourcing software development.

  • India
  • United Kingdom
  • Ukraine
  • China
  • Poland
  • Philippines
  • Romania
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In addition to these countries, you can hire developers from developed nations like the United States and the United Kingdom as well. In fact, the United Kingdom, after Germany, is one of the top 3 countries in Europe to have the most talented software developers.

Cost factors:

Depending on the location of your IT vendor, the salary that they pay for developers also varies vastly. The table below shows the average salary app developers are paid in each country. The numbers are according to PayScale, the online salary comparison service.

Country Average Salary (in USD)



United Kingdom



$11,936 - $46,787


$27,695 - $52,314






$12,000 - $35,000

In addition to destination and cost, there are several other factors that help you hire a developer. They are:

  • Experience
  • Business goodwill
  • Client feedback
  • Expertise

1. Experience

A long career in software development does not indicate that the developer is well-versed in software development. However, prior experience does mean that the developer is prone to make fewer mistakes compared to a novice.

When you are looking out to hire an app developer, pay special attention to the experience that they have in specific forms of mobile app development. Have their work on projects that demand stretching the limits of creativity and innovation, or have they been following orders?

As a startup, you need self-led, on-the-foot thinking developers who don’t have to be fed with instructions. You need smart people who can assess the scenario and act on their own. That is when experience comes into play.

2. Expertise

Mobile app development is not a singular function. There are several aspects to it. It demands mastery over several programming languages. That means the ideal developer that your startup needs must not be someone who has expertise in one field of software development.

They should be versatile, or jack of all trades. A software developer who is a master of many programming languages can bring to the table more solutions than a developer who is focused on only one area.

3. Client Feedback

Every business association is built on trust. Before signing on the dotted line to engage an IT vendor or to hire an app developer, you must conduct a thorough background check to ensure that they are reliable and trustworthy.

That begins with checking client feedback of previous or existing clients. Reviews on freelancer forums, business review websites on local listings like Google My Business can help verify if the developer or the IT vendor firm is worth building a business relationship with.

Intelivita- hire mobile app developer

Intelivita Google My Business Review

4. Business Goodwill

When you are engaging an app developer for your startup, there is one thing that you should never overlook. It is the business goodwill of the developer. Goodwill is the reputation that the developer holds in the market.

There are several peer-to-peer review websites such as,, Goodfirms, etc. which showcase the goodness of a developer based on their past performance. These sites also provide ample information on the staff strength of the app development company, their founding year, average rate per hour and much more.

Image showing Intelivita's Clutch Profile Review and Ratings

Various models of hiring an app developer

Now that you know of the various factors to be considered before hiring a developer or an IT form, here are some models you can try to hire the best developer.

1. Outsourcing

Outsourcing refers to the act of contracting the task to an external contractor, vendor or supplier. In this case, it would be an IT firm that has developers as its resources.

The benefit of outsourcing is that it keeps the firm as a whole accountable for results. There would be a project manager on board who will ensure that the resources are achieving milestones according to mutually agreed timelines. To ensure the quality of service, there would be an escalation matrix which can be resorted to fixing any setbacks during the project development phase.

2. Hire a resource

The downside of outsourcing is that it is expensive, not to miss mentioning that the management process is cumbersome as well. Also, the project may not require an entire team of resources to come on board. Maybe a single resource for development, design or testing would be sufficient. In such scenarios, it makes sense to hire a resource.

There are several mobile app development and web development companies that offer their resources on a time share basis. Unlike in outsourcing, in resource hiring, a single resource would be contracted for work. The remuneration for the same would be billed based on the number of hours spent.

3. Freelancer

There could be scenarios when both of the above-mentioned hiring models could prove to be a bad fit. That is when hiring a freelancer proves to be beneficial. Freelancers are individual contributors who work with clients of diverse backgrounds and business models. They can accommodate projects on small sizes that does not require extensive team collaboration. For example, building a specific module of a large application.

The ultimate decision — Making that hiring decision

Hiring a software developer for your startup is not going to be an arrow-straight road. There will be many roadblocks that you will have to encounter before zeroing on the right resource. First among them is finding a developer who is well-versed in multiple programming languages and operating systems.

Second is deciding whether to hire an internal resource or to look for external options. There are several pros and cons to hiring an internal resource and to outsourcing the project to an external agency or freelancer.

Once you have made a choice, you can proceed to determine the location from where you can hire developers. Depending on the location from where you hire developers, the cost to hire and sustain them would also vary.

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Oliver Baker

Oliver Baker is a co-founder of Intelivita, a leading Web and Mobile App Development Company based in Leeds, UK. Oliver has been at the forefront of the business, expanding it globally and into new technologies including iOS and Android, AR, VR and Mobile Game applications. Oliver excels in Project Management, Leadership, Quality Assurance and Problem Solving and has qualifications with Prince2 and APM. He aims to develop his skills further through a shared interest with other leaders in the Software Markets and the Clients of Intelivita.

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