What is involved in developing an app?

Through our experience developing a range of iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows mobile apps we have continually refined our app development process to ensure we maintain our high standards and what is considered best practice.

We have a strong belief that thorough planning and analysis of the business and user requirements before we touch a line of code delivers a better mobile app and an efficient project.

All of our mobile app projects progress through clear stages, with set deliverables and milestones.

As a client you will be given the opportunity to be heavily involved in every stage of the project. This delivers better mobile apps as you can continually check that the product is staying aligned with your vision and provide feedback and refinements throughout the development.

The development stages include:

  • Business Planning
  • Analysis
  • Design and Prototyping
  • Development
  • User Acceptance Testing
  • Deployment
  • Maintenance

At the start of your project you will receive a project plan that includes clear deliverables and timeframes for each stage.

How much does it cost to develop a mobile app?

This is something we get asked everyday and we could use numerous clichéd analogies to answer this question – but we won’t.

The long answer is that app development is a complex process that requires a lot of a planning and a wide variety of skilled and experienced people to deliver a quality result. With startup app’s you are generally creating something that hasn’t been done before, so a lot of time needs to go in to research and planning before Applabs can provide a fixed price for your app project.

We can guarantee that we will work with you to clearly define the scope of works, so everyone has a detailed understanding of what will be delivered, by when and for how much (we will give you a fixed price). We also care about delivering the best mobile app for the best price – so if we think a feature isn’t required or there is a better way to achieve your goals we will tell you.

So the short answer is you will need to allow at least $15,000-$20,000 to develop your app for one platform (iPhone/iPad, Android or Windows) but this could be up to $150,000+ depending on the complexity, range of features and platforms.

How can I finance my app?

If you are a startup business the initial funding is likely to come from yourself, friends or family. Even at this stage you should really consider how much equity you give other investors and what your shareholder agreement is.

When there is no revenue it is easy to give up a lot of equity, but you have to consider that if your mobile app is successful you will need multiple rounds of capital raising. To make it easier to raise investment at future stages you need a shareholder agreement that will facilitate this and enough equity to offer to investors.

Beyond family and friends in the initial stages of app development you could consider Angel investment. Angel investors invest in early stage companies – basically when your startup is still in the idea stage. As an Angel Investor is taking on a lot of risk they will seek a large equity stake (25-50%) and are looking for approximately a 10 fold return on their investment within 5 years.

The services division of Applabs will fund startup apps at the Angel investment stage through in-kind development and corporate support.

The next stages of funding are known as Seed and Series A.

If you have the first version of your product developed and attracting customers, but you need more funds for further product development, marketing or to scale your startup mobile app business you are now ready for Seed funding.

If your mobile app is at the stage where it has considerable traction, customers and generating revenue you would be looking to obtain Series A funding. Essentially this is to assist your business to scale to service growing clients, increase your market share or enter new markets.

If you are looking for Seed or Series A funding the most common sources for tech startups are VC funds, stockbrokers or high net-worth individuals.

The investment division of Applabs provides Seed and Series A funding.

If you are seeking investment the three main things investors are looking for are:

  • Quality teams
  • Product
  • Market

Before you approach an investor make sure you do some research, as even though they may invest in tech startups they might only invest in social media apps. If that doesn’t fit your mobile app then they are very unlikely to invest in your startup business.

Applabs App Financing

Through the services division Applabs regularly invests in app products, predominantly at the Angel stage.

We look for mobile apps that have quality people involved, are tackling a large market and are iPhone, iPad or Android App based.

They must generate revenue through subscriptions, clipping a ticket of transactions or service enterprise clients. We will rarely invest in games or consumer focused apps with no clear revenue model.

We will typically invest in-kind resources to develop and launch the product in exchange for 10-25% equity. Applabs will never fund 100% of the product development as we expect the founder to have significant skin in the game. We would expect that the founder would contribute a minimum of $20,000 to the mobile app product development.

As well as development resources Applabs will provide marketing and business strategy support, corporate advice and through our networks we can help your startup business attract Seed and Series A funding when required. We may also opt to invest our own cash at the Seed or Series A stage if the product has gained traction and meets our investment criteria.

How do I protect my app idea?

When you are just starting to look for a development partner it is normal to want to protect your idea. As a starting point we would recommend completing a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) to allow you to confidentially share your startup app idea. If you would like to discuss your idea with Applabs you can download our NDA here

Startups are often new and innovative businesses, so it is quite common for founders to investigate obtaining a patent for their mobile app. Applabs would always recommend contacting a patent lawyer for expert advice, however our tips for obtaining a patent are:

  • Do it early, because once your idea is out in the public you can no longer patent it
  • Obtaining a patent for software is difficult, but not impossible
  • Allow at least $5,000 for the initial stage of your patent
  • A patent can’t stop someone from copying your idea, but if they do it gives you the ability to prosecute them
  • Speak to an expert, Applabs are happy to refer you to experienced lawyers if you need

How long does it take to develop an app?

The development timeframe varies based on the range of features, complexity and whether you are just building the mobile app for one of iPhone/iPad, Android, Windows, Web or multiple platforms.

In general you should allow at least 3 months from the time you commence the app development process to release.

iPhone vs. Android

There is a lot of debate about whether you should go with an iPhone app or an Android app (at this stage Windows doesn’t even enter the conversation, apart from the enterprise market). In the Australian market our recommendation is that unless there is a very specific reason for developing an Android app you should always go iPhone first.

From our experience iPhone app’s outperform Android app’s significantly in terms of total downloads (we see about an 85/15 split) and revenue generated.

If you are launching a new product you want to get to market as quickly and cheaply as possible – which is another reason to go iPhone first. There is a lot of device fragmentation in the Android market – which introduces more variables for development and testing. By going iPhone app first the development is a lot more controlled, which we believe gives a better platform to launch and test your startup app.

This isn’t discounting the value of also developing an Android app, because when your app is successful you will have a large percentage of the market that will be unhappy that they can’t download it. We would suggest that the Android app is released in the second stage of the product development. At this point you will have feedback from customers that will allow you to refine the Android offering further. This would generally be released along with an updated version of the iPhone app.

Native app vs mobile web

Another consideration is whether you should build a native app or can your objectives be achieved through a mobile optimized website.

The main advantages of a mobile website are:

  • Quicker and cheaper to developer
  • Available across all platforms

The main advantages of a native iPhone, Android or Windows app are:

  • Better UI and UX
  • Can deliver more complex features
  • More opportunities to generate revenue (ie paid downloads, in-app purchases)
  • Better performance

In short a mobile website is a good option if you don’t have complex features and are on a limited budget. But a native iPhone, Android or Windows app will deliver better results and has superior capabilities.

During the initial discussions with Applabs we will help you to decide if you need a native app or a mobile website.

Can I get a government grant?

The main source of government support for tech startups is through the Research and Development Tax Incentive.

This incentive provides a rebate of up to 45% of expenditure on eligible business activities – with app development generally considered an acceptable activity.

This process is relatively straight forward, as long as you are an eligible entity undertaking approved activities and spend at least $20,000 in a financial year you will be eligible.

Please speak to a professional R&D Accountant to assess your eligibility.

Some local councils also offer incentives for startup businesses, so they are worth checking out.