Finding a way to get an idea developed into an actual usable product was probably the biggest challenge in the entire process. I didn't (and still don't) really have any coding experience and my knowledge of the iOS coding language is limited to know that it is done using something called Xcode. I also did not know where to start as far as finding developers and really having a sense of what things cost.
One of the best pieces of initial advice I received from an entrepreneurial friend was to create a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). The purpose of the NDA is to protect you and your idea when you are having discussions with potential developers. It is hard for developers to give a sense of costs without knowing the details of your plan, but it is also hard to feel safe divulging information because you don't someone else to steal your good ideas. You can do a Google search for "Sample NDA" to get a sense of the types of wording that exist. There are also things called "mutual non-disclosure agreements" for which both parties in the conversation mutually agree not to violate any trust - this definitely allows for richer conversations about what might be possible.
Connecting with Developers
There are lots of people out there doing things with iOS programming and iOS devices. Finding the right people to work with is not easy. One of the first things I did was do searches for what might be reputable development shops and try to get a sense of what their past projects are like as well as their pricing. This can be an exhausting process, especially when you realize that you may be managing multiple discussions with dev-shops situated across the globe.
A better strategy might be to find apps that you think are well designed, but that also might have some features, functions, styles, and audiences that are in the same ball park as your ideas. You can look in the fine print on an app's iTunes store page to find information about the seller/developer.
I just came across a really well designed website called "TheyMakeApps.com". This site may give an idea of who is out there and what the costs might be.
Multiple Development Models
There are three development models that I encountered in my discussions with developers, and as expected the model variance was directly correlated to costs.
The first model is where you simply contract the developers to write the code, but you are responsible for paying for all of the development costs, graphic costs, project management, marketing, bug fix costs, and future release costs. The good thing about this is that you retain 100% ownership of the product and process. The bad part is that this can be extremely expensive and time-consuming. Neither are good things if you are working full time as an educator.
A second model is where you yield your idea to the developers (assuming they think it is worth the risk of investing their own time and money), and they develop, produce, and publish the app under their name, with you receiving some small percentage of any revenue once initial costs are recouped by the developers. You can still put your name on it somewhere and know that your idea is being turned into something tangible with very little risk on your part. The bad part of this model is the loss of control and total ownership, and this might not sit well with you.
The third model I encountered was one of entering a partnership with developers, sharing the risk but also sharing the ownership of product. This hybrid model was the most appealing to me (and the one I went with for Explain Everything) By sharing the risk, both the developers and myself were mutually invested in the success of the product. It also enabled for the app to be developed quickly. The most important thing was outlining who would be responsible for what aspects of the production (graphics, development, marketing, project management, beta testing, etc.).
It's inevitable that unforeseen things may arise once the process has started, but this is where maintaining good communication and an open and honest dialogue are extremely important.
Header photo by Robert S. Donovan