I have a great app idea but no money …

You have the best mobile app idea anyone ever had.  You documented the idea, defined its functionality in excruciating detail, took the time to understand the resources available to reduce costs (like SDKs and APIs), found a reputable, experienced, and reasonably priced developer, and you’re ready to go.  Only problem is … you don’t have the money to develop and market your smart phone app.

You asked friends, family, and the occasional acquaintance.  No luck.  You were turned down by your bank (“we don’t finance start-ups”).  Don’t yet despair.  All may not be lost.

Find Investors

If self, family, or bank financing is not available, your next option is to seek investors, which in the tech business are commonly and appropriately referred to as “angel investors.”  Websites like Go4Funding and Angelsoft pair up innovators with venture capitalists willing to take a risk on ideas or products.  A LinkedIn search can likewise prove to be a valuable resource if you organize your search terms carefully (“mobile application,” “angel OR investor OR venture+capital OR partner,” for example).  Inc.com has a list of angel investors, as well as a guide with instructions on how to go about finding, approaching, and dealing with investors.

The most important thing to remember, however, is this:  investors are in business to make money.  To have the best shot at getting them to buy into your mobile app project, you must define your product, diligently prepare your documentation, and hone your pitch before approaching them.  You must sell prospective investors on the idea that you have an idea that has a very good chance of making money.  This will involve answering, for you and for the investor, some really hard questions like:

  • What is your value proposition?  What need does your project serve and will customers be willing to pay to have that need fulfilled?
  • How big is the potential market for your mobile app?
  • What are the initial and ongoing costs?
  • What is your marketing plan?
  • What is the current competition and what is the competition likely to be?

We’ve spent considerable time scrolling through the blogs and forums, and the number of investment seekers who have not even considered answers to these questions is staggering.

Share the Wealth

Another funding option for mobile app development projects is to enter into a revenue-sharing arrangement with your developer.  An experienced app developer may look at dozens of app proposals a month and will generally have a pretty good feel for whether your idea will have legs.  If the potential revenue stream from the app appears promising, the developer might consider taking a share of future revenues in exchange for reduced development costs.  Although this may sound attractive if you can’t find any other source of funding, you should know that many developers will not even consider rev sharing and those that do turn down many more rev share proposals than they take.

We deal with dozens of developers every week in our business.  We hear hundreds of ideas every month.  If you have don’t have clear answers to the questions above, expect any conversation with prospective investors to be short.  However, if you have a compelling mobile app idea with a defined value proposition, a profitable potential market, reasonable development or operating costs, and a solid marketing plan, you may realize your dream project – and it will almost certainly be worth the effort.

Do you have some ideas about how to fund mobile app development costs?  Leave a comment or e-mail me.

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Written by

Mark M. Stetler is CEO of AppMuse and its related businesses: iPhoneAppQuotes.com, iPadApplicationQuotes.com, AndroidAppDevelopmentQuotes.com, and BlackberryAppDevelopmentQuotes.com. AppMuse is the Internet's leading provider of free app development quotes from experienced, pre-screened app developers for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry smart phones.

44 Comments to “I have a great app idea but no money …”

  1. remote pc says:

    I like this article, but whats to stop someone from taking your idea? I’ve been a part of a startup and people do some under handed things…

    • Bill Styles says:

      You have to trust the site or person you trust with your ideas!

      Something I disagree with a bit about this article is that it only focuses on two main routes to bring your app idea into reality…finding investors, or doing a revenue-sharing / equity-sharing arrangement with developers. Well, I think there are a lot more valuable and easy ways to go about developing your app idea than just this!

      For example, I found a site called Applits – http://applits.com – which is an app idea competition. People like you and I head on and submit their app ideas, and people around the world vote on those they like best. Your idea gets made FOR you if it wins, and you get paid for it! I’ve submitted my idea and will report back how it goes.

      • Scott says:

        How can you be assured that your idea will remain your idea?I have fallen prey to unscrupulous people in the past with other ideas!

      • Ricardo Delgado says:

        Bill, I have what I believe to be a great idea for a mobile app, but do not have development knowledge and was thinking to work with Applits; even though I am a bit concearn that if the app has “future”, then most of the money would go to them and the developers and not the entrepreneur (that would be me in this case). I understand that they pay 15% of the revenues to the entrepreneur and the rest is for Applits, but would that be for as long as the application is alive on every app store? that is my main question.
        Please let me know how did it go with them; did you make a good deal?

    • Adnan A says:

      I loved the article too and I am curious before you talk to a investor, can you make the investor (even Angel Investor) sign a NDA (non disclosure agreement).

      I know NDA is not a complete protection but as a idea thinker , NDA is maximum that inventor can use to protect but rest is fate.

      Any comments!!

      I will appreciate any response.

      Thanks again

  2. Mark Stetler says:

    Thanks for the comment! Disclosing your idea always carries a risk, but the risk can be managed. Check our post on how to keep someone from stealing your app idea. http://bit.ly/jNAlLV We also have a few posts about non-disclosure agreements that you might want to check out.

  3. scottt hoover says:

    Thanks Mark. I need assistance in marketing my amy app .

  4. Ocean apps says:

    Hi, I will fund decent app ideas. You will make a fee for the idea and % of the income.

    Submit a general outline and cashflow model, let’s see if it has legs.

    Liam

    • Gary Groves says:

      Hi Liam,

      Email me your contact details, i have an idea to pitch but wish to discuss your intro fee and income % figure

      thanks

      Gary
      garygroves@hotmail.co.uk

    • Jarrod says:

      Hi there,
      I do have a few mobile application ideas, do you have a non-compete or disclosure agreement?

      Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.
      Jarrod

    • GEORGE says:

      Hello,

      I have a complete business plan, whereby I am looking for funding. Please can you send me the relevant contact details.

      Regards.

    • John says:

      I have a great app Idea. Could you please email me or send me your email address?
      Thanks, John

    • Siguelson says:

      Hello Liam,
      Your financial assistance is needed in developing an app for the Apple world so please shoot me an email with the appropriate contact info and the like. Thank you

    • Craig Laberee says:

      Hello Liam,
      I am an autistic teacher in Florida, USA. I have years of experience with these ASD students. With ASD now effecting 1 in 88 newborns, it is time for some quality aps for autistic children for parents to have access to buy for their children. I have several ideas that I want to develop into aps for the world market but have no funding or resources to make them a reality. I need a company to develop my ideas into an actual ap to sell on ITunes. Please send me your application and contract details.
      Thanks,
      Craig Laberee

    • jason toman says:

      I have a great idea for an app I believe it will make alot of money. At this point I have no money to put down but I would be willing to partner with whoever helps me with this. please respond and thankyou for your time Jason Toman

  5. Adrian says:

    If you have an idea and find an App in the US market for instance that is very similar to your idea; would it be possible to license their App and then modify it or would it be best to start from scratch?

  6. mel says:

    The best way to protect your idea is to make it opensource.
    i.e free for all to view

  7. denise says:

    I have an idea for a bed – I know there are alot out there,but mine cater for low income families. I need help from beginning to finish. Anyone out there interested?

  8. Jack says:

    Hi Liam. Could I get you contact details too? I have a killer app idea with designs, storyboard and development plan.
    Jack.adamson1@gmail.com

  9. Kenny miller says:

    I beleive i have a great idea for an app for the iPhone, and not just iphone but for all
    Smart phone. So my question is how do I keep my idea from being taken? Second I have done a lot of research and no one has come up with an idea like mine maybe you can give me some steps on what to do.

    Thanks
    Kenny

  10. Lucy Rosewood says:

    If you believe in your idea, I think going to an investor is the best solution as they can offer more than just money, some apps need millions invested to make them work, otherwise going to the bank is always an option.

  11. Terry Davis says:

    I have the next billion dollar app idea. This idea is monumental. it can be used globally. it will appeal to everyone. men, women, teens, grandparents i mean everyone. it will be self perpetuating. it provides a service that everyone can use. it will grow exponentially. its simple. its useful. most people will use it several times a day. its social. its interactive. this is one of the true great ones. it will be on every smart phone out there. if facebook will pay 1 billion for instagram this one is worth 5 billion. i am the idea man. i am no business man. i have no small fortune to develope this. nor do i have the time. how do you sell just the idea if it is truly great?

  12. Renee says:

    Hi I have a great app idea, but I need some guidance on how to make it global and protect my idea and market it. I don’t have the money to get it started I just have an idea and I know it will sell!!!!

  13. Kenny Endres says:

    Short and simple……I have an idea that I think the global network would find beneficial with every day use. Don’t pass this up, take a chance and listen/contact me!! Too excited!!!

  14. john says:

    Would like to hire investor who would like to build my app. We can make the money fifty fifty.

  15. john says:

    It is a tattoo sketching app.

  16. Roger says:

    I have an app idea to do with Advertising but no funds to develop, I like what I have read here. My Email add: mrguthrie11@yahoo.co.uk. Thank you

  17. david says:

    I have a real good idea for a fun app guaranteed to keep people coming back for updates. Use my email to get in touch with me… seriously intereted people only, (will make money even if it was free)

  18. Randy says:

    I have an app idea and mockup design of my app. Ive been talking to a lot of developers and it’s a lot more expensive than I thought it was going to be. I think my idea has so much potential bring big revenue. The problem is I don’t have the funding to get this app developed. would anyone be interested in investing or making a % on top of what the app will be bring in?

  19. Courtney says:

    I read this article and the one about protecting your idea but I’m wondering how this fits with the crowdfunding sites. I (of course) have a great idea for a mobile app but I have no money and I’m considering Kickstarter or some of its competitors. So how do you protect an idea on these crowdfunding sites?

  20. Bellser40 says:

    Anyone able to advise/help me with what i think is a genius smartphone app i have thought of? I have no money and no idea how to even start creating this which i believe would be popular worldwide and all age groups.

  21. Carlos Calderon says:

    I am new to the whole app thing, but an idea did come to mind. Can you send me your information?

    Carlos
    azfm200@gmail.com

  22. LaDonna says:

    I got ahold of an invention company that’s likes my app idea. I dont have the funds they need to continue. My brother said, app investors are out there. Great idea! Few people know, all love it. Please consider contacting me and hear my idea. Thank you

  23. Matt says:

    I think this really depends on your skill and understanding of app development. If you have an idea for something but have no knowledge of the actual work required to create that app, it will be hard to get investors (trust me on this :). Find a friend who knows how to code. And there are some small app development firms out there that do more than just code whatever you tell them to code. They can help you design and implement the app features.

  24. John says:

    I am reaching out to investors. I have an app idea that I’ve already pitched to an app design company and from what they’ve told me, they feel like I really am onto something with this idea I’m just have no funding. Any investors interested in being a part of an app that has the potential to really hit big please send me an email.

    Thanks, John

  25. Jeffrey says:

    I am an avid chess player and have a chess variant app idea that is will be regarded as the most fun and engaging of its kind. The overarching theme is being able to “bluff” with your pieces. Suffice it to say the chess playing world which comprises approximately 605 million players will embrace it and so will casual gamers/ novices. It completely evens the playing field and gives the novice player the chance to completely hose even a grandmaster on a good day. The most elitist game known to mankind need not be this way and my game insure that it is not. You will miss an amazing opportunity if you pass this up. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in hearing more about this. I am making arrangements with some grandmasters to potentially endorse/ bankroll the board game version but would still like to see it produced as an ios app as well as the gameplay is ripe for it.

  26. Bill Brown says:

    What if you app idea is quite simple, but would be well-suited for an Amazon, Apple/iTunes, Microsoft, Google, etc., who have some of the tools that would really make this a huge success?

    I know the large Internet companies are very competitive and have huge war chests of capital for investments and takeovers.

    Do companies such as Applits or Appmuse have the contacts to take a prototype to one of the large Internet companies?

  27. Daniel Carter says:

    I have developed a cad app and need help selling-marketing to the correct businesses. The app is developed on the windows phone 8. Its currently available on the windows store. Using Bluetooth the app gathers wall measurements with the use of the Leica Disto laser devices it transfers measurements to the phone. The result is either a printed floor plan in high resolution. Alternately exporting the drawing from the phone in AutoCads DXF format. I’m in the process of adding an option for objects washing machines, baths etc to be placed snapped to walls on the plan. This app is built for estate agents and flooring contractors in mind.

  28. Kevin says:

    How do I know that they will tell me no and then do it? Please give me a great answer for that. Had that ever happened?

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