Ed-Tech Startups Can Develop Apps in Affordable Ways

The first step for any startup creating an iPad app is to find an app developer. Since our startup “team of two” were subject-matter experts in the field of speech-language pathology, we needed to learn more about the complexities of turning our ideas into apps. One of us was skilled in using SDK and Xcode for basic programming, but we soon realized that the development of our vocabulary apps would require an experienced developer. When a quick Internet search revealed it could cost between $50,000 to $100,000 to build an app, we balked at such a high number.
Discovering app development was so pricey could have been a barrier to creating our products. But we had a strong belief in our ideas and looked for other ways to make them reality.

Is Your App Innovative?

To determine if our idea really was innovative, we met with several prominent researchers in the area of education, neurology and learning disabilities. These experts agreed with the need for these tools, and our unique approach. They advised us to apply for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) U.S. Department of Education grant. The $150,000 grant could help us develop our product, and simultaneously produce a small, high-quality research study.

However, at that time, only about five percent of companies applying were winning these grants. Also, the grant-writing process is nearly a full-time job requiring great talent in a specific skill set (not ours!). There were times it felt a bit hopeless as we realized the possibility of winning an SBIR grant was faint. Even if we did win, it would be months before we would know, and our iPad apps would be seriously delayed.

We needed to come up with a plan to get our apps developed sooner rather than later.

Networking Helps

We have been fortunate to have friends and family who have helped us make connections in different areas of life. We soon realized that to find an app developer, we needed to do significant networking and advertise our need. The friend of a sibling happened to own a small technology development company and after meeting, it was an obvious good fit.

The price to develop both apps was extremely reasonable, and we were able to afford to bootstrap this effort. After signing a legal contract stating that Communication APPtitude retained full ownership of the app code–a key component to any product development contract–the work began. Our developer guided us through the process and coded our apps.

Without calling on our network, we would not have been able to take this step. And networking goes way beyond finding an app developer: Today you are looking for tech expertise, tomorrow you’ll need marketing or funding. We now have five apps on the App Store, all bringing in monthly revenue.

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