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admin2021-10-01 10:48:232021-10-01 10:48:23Why we (generally) don't recommend React Native (or other cross-platform solutions) anymore
admin2021-09-29 07:28:022021-09-29 07:28:47Mobile App Startups: Marketing
admin2021-09-14 14:02:182021-09-14 13:58:19Client Spotlight: Tapper Legacy
admin2021-04-22 15:55:362021-09-15 06:22:16Algora: Student Programmers and Startups – a Match Made in Heaven
admin2021-02-09 16:56:232021-09-15 06:35:15Fixed Price and the Illusion of Control
admin2021-02-02 16:55:482021-02-02 18:19:00QA for Startups
admin2021-02-02 16:54:042021-02-02 16:54:04Anatomy of a Bug
admin2020-04-29 14:51:352020-04-29 14:51:35Client Spotlight: Babblbox
admin2019-08-27 13:20:362021-01-06 12:39:43Publishing your Android Application to the Google Play Store in 3 easy steps
admin2019-08-05 11:52:442021-09-15 06:16:34Competing with Amazon/Google etc for tech talent
Why we (generally) don’t recommend React Native (or other cross-platform solutions) anymore
TLDR: frequent interminable library conflicts, deep knowledge of native platforms required to debug issues, and devastating edge cases result in no real difference it total cost of development with a huge increase in complexity.
In 2015, Facebook’s cross platform framework (meaning it could run on both iOS and Android), React Native, burst onto the scene and took the mobile world by storm. In the next couple years, big companies like Airbnb, Soundcloud, and Discord hopped on board, as well as more niche but influential companies like Artsy. People everywhere were drawn to the many potential advantages: shared cross platform code, the availability of developers, development speed, and the promised performance parity with native code.
By 2018, however, some of those big companies had begun abandoning React Native, Airbnb being the most visible of them, writing a large, multi part post-mortem on React Native at Airbnb. That year was also the peak of the search term, which has been declining since then:
LithoByte also experimented with React Native, and developed our in house expertise to the extent that we even accepted clients for the platform. However, we quickly abandoned the platform; let’s look at the reasons why. First, though, a brief history of mobile cross platform frameworks.
The History of Cross Platform Solutions
We at LithoByte have always been suspicious of cross platform solutions since the first few came out. In 2012, Mark Zuckerberg famously said that betting on HTML5 for cross platform capabilities was the biggest mistake Facebook had thereto made as a company. The problem was many-fold, but not least was that performance was poor compared to native development.
Xamarin was and is another cross platform solution, but never got the sort of attention that either HTML5 or React Native did – perhaps because it uses a less known programming language, is made by Microsoft, or some other reason entirely.
Fundamentally, though, what all cross platform solutions share is that they will, by definition, always be at least one step behind native, in a couple respects. First, there’s always some extra layer that translates the cross platform code into single platform code – this will always cause some sort of performance hit; you can minimize it, you can try to work around it, you can design your app to make it look inconspicuous, but it will always be there. Second, when native platforms update, people who use a cross-platform solution can’t use those features immediately – they have to wait for the solution’s maintainers to incorporate the new features into the solution, or they have to write their own incorporation code, which they’ll eventually replace with the official incorporation (which means extra effort with little pay off).
This is the largest thing a cross platform solution has to overcome to be, in our opinion, worth considering for general application development. The hype around React Native indicated that, because it uses native components in the UI, it didn’t have the same sort of performance hit as other frameworks, and because Facebook was creating it, there would be little or no slow down as the native platforms updated, which led us to give it a try in spite of our reservations. Unfortunately, neither of these have proven the case.
Our experiences with React Native
1. The 80-20 effect
With React Native and many other cross platform solutions, a developer can very quickly build about 80% of their app using the cross platform framework. This experience is revelatory for many, because making so much progress so fast is a level of productivity that we rarely experience. “Gee,” we think, “if I got this much done so fast, surely the last 20% will be just as fast – I just have to fix these small bugs here or there and I’ll have a whole app done in a very short period of time!” This experience often is what developers will base their recommendations on – 80% is a long way, and the experience is so convincing, that they’ll recommend a switch based on that alone.
Unfortunately, that last 20% is a nightmarish slog. Fixing one bug causes another. Upgrading a package to include a bug fix causes a conflict with another package. Making it look nice on one platform breaks the UI on the other. You start having to write more and more platform specific code to fix these issues, along with ugly code to accommodate strange work arounds. The time saved by the first 80% is often dwarfed by the time lost to the last 20%, making the investment of dubious value.
2. More native experience necessary than native development
Our developers report that because of the obscure and arcane bugs they ran into with React Native, they counterintuitively used more of their native knowledge than if they were just developing a native app. Crashes output messages that were opaque in the extreme, requiring a deep, expert level knowledge of the native stack (on both platforms!) to diagnose, with subsequent sifting through libraries touching that part of the native stack to hunt down the cause.
This meant that LithoByte could not hire junior developers to work on React Native projects, and instead had to rely on our most experienced programmers, driving up costs for our clients in both the short and long term.
Also as a result of this, we did not receive any benefits from the shared architectural style with the web framework React – simply knowing React was not enough to meaningfully contribute to a React Native codebase because of the deep native knowledge base required to debug. As noted in Airbnb’s posts about it, rather than reducing the number of platforms from two to one, React Native increased the number of platforms to three.
3. Ecosystem volatility
As an app progresses, both business and technical considerations drive the addition of new features. To provide those new features, new libraries are often required. Unfortunately, libraries vary vastly in many respects, including: maintenance consistency, dependencies, version requirements, stability, and more. Because of this, every time a new library is added, it may have a non-trivial impact on other libraries, as you may need to upgrade, downgrade, or replace existing libraries (and the code that uses them) to support all necessary features.
This makes adding new features harder and harder as time goes on, and is part of what causes the 80-20 effect described above.
One interesting story from Airbnb relates to a bug wherein, for some devices, React Native would render the app as all white – meaning you couldn’t see anything, since everything was the same color. The inexplicable solution to this was to turn off a library included by default in React Native called Fresco. To this day, Airbnb developers don’t know why that fixed the issue. Think about that: Airbnb has some of the best engineers in the world, competing for talent and hiring from companies like Apple, Google, and the creators of React Native, Facebook. If they couldn’t figure it out, most other companies couldn’t either – let alone a startup just trying to save money.
We find that generally companies looking to save money are better served by concentrating on one native platform before building out a second later rather than relying on React Native or any other cross platform solution.
That said, there are times a cross platform app makes sense: cases when you are building a very standard application that doesn’t need off the beaten path features, a small scale app that doesn’t need to be high quality, and cases when you rapidly need to build out a first version that you don’t plan on maintaining long term.
For some startups we mentor, a cross platform framework can be a great way to get a proof of concept out the door – however, they will most likely, at some point, need to re-write it natively. That costs more in the long run, but if a proof of concept is needed to raise money at all, then a cross platform framework may help you get there.
Mobile App Startups: Marketing
There are a lot of choices when it comes to marketing your app.
The first and most obvious is the old gold standard: with word of mouth. This can be achieved in a few ways: obviously, you can make a product so good that users just have to tell others about it (this is very rare, especially for a brand new app). If your app is a communication service, to an extent word of mouth is built in: if your users need other people to have it in order to communicate with them, they’re more likely to spread the word for you. You can also build a social aspect to the application (and according to the excellent Gamefication by Design, you probably should be anyway), which, if natural, will allow your users to invite others or just generally give social proof to others that they’re using your app. Finally, you can attempt to build buzz with a beta, only offering a select number of invites to give the impression of exclusivity.
After the tried and true word-of-mouth, one of our favorites is by building something people are already searching the App Store for. This reduces your marketing strategy to one of App Store Optimization, with a side of App Store Ads, if necessary. (Note: App Store Ads are not always worth it – you’ll need to review your average revenue per user to determine if the cost of acquisition through ads makes sense.)
You can also try social media awareness and advertising. This involves creating social media accounts for your app on Facebook, Twitter, and the like, and posting, inviting people to like, joining groups, and generally interacting with potential users. This can be extremely effective, especially if you’re offering something that saves you customers time or money – however, it can also be an extremely intensive process, which can easily soak up a large amount of time, energy, and money.
Another option is search engine optimization and ads. Sometimes people aren’t searching the App Store for your solution, but instead they’re searching the web. If your website comes up at the top of those search results, you could get new users that way. If you’re publishing your app on Android, you can create a campaign with Google that can automatically detect where to place ads for you, either on the store itself or in web search results. On iOS, however, you’ll need to do your own research and place ads with Google accordingly.
You might also try affiliate advertising. With this strategy, you connect with influencers or folks whose audience you’d like to reach and offer their users a discount that also gives money to the influencer – this creates an incentive for the influencer to talk about your product, and the users that come to the app through that person/organization get a nice discount while allowing them to support the influencer/creator monetarily when they may not have been otherwise. Because you’re getting paying customers, it a makes up for the money you’re paying the spokesperson, but if none of their audience uses the affiliate link/code, neither of you will make any money from it, so choosing your desired audience carefully is key.
You could also try for paid or earned news coverage – though, as a startup, earned coverage can be hard to get if you don’t already have connections to a reporter or news organization. Similar to affiliate marketing, this may or may not be effective, depending on if your potential users read the news organization your company is featured in. Most news sites, stations, and papers will allow you to pay to be featured as well – but again, choose wisely if you want to see a return on investment.
Marketing is an art and a science, and should not be taken lightly. Excellent apps have been made or broken based on their marketing strategy, and we highly recommend thinking long and hard about how you want to approach it – including speaking to experts on the subject.
Client Spotlight: Tapper Legacy
We’re delighted to announce the launch of Tapper Legacy!
Tapper is an incredible opportunity to share your stories with your family, friends, and loved ones. You will never have to leave anything unsaid or any story untold. It’s an app where your legacy can live on for generations to come.
We built this app for Tapper Technology from the ground up as a foundational product – meaning they will be able to reliably build upon it into the future. With a tech stack including Rails, Swift on iOS, and Kotlin for Android, we were able to quickly and cheaply build an MVP that will allow them to hire from a large pool talented developers internally when the time comes, quickly iterate on new features, and not sacrifice on quality.
Download the Tapper Legacy app today and start safeguarding your legacy!
Algora: Student Programmers and Startups – a Match Made in Heaven
We’ve written before about how startups can attract technical talent, even when competing against tech giants like Apple, Google, and the like. One of the difficult things when thinking about that issue is how to deal with the money problem: as a startup, you don’t have any, while tech giants have literal billions of dollars to spend on developers.
There are a few ways startups attempt to solve this problem: since finding the right person at the right price takes time, they often fill the gap with contractors. And there again, you have a problem: contractors cost money, while good contractors cost lots of money (although, as the saying goes, “if you think experts are expensive, wait til you hire an amateur”). What’s a start up to do?
One option is to go offshore; however, there are many risks to this.
First, language barriers can really make things hard – even between native speakers, expressing your vision for your product is supremely difficult; how much more so when you’re talking to someone new to your language?
Second, many offshore companies are competing on price – but their currency is not actually so weak compared to the dollar that the economics make sense. As a result, many offshore companies put their employees on multiple projects at once. I don’t care how talented a developer you are, if you’re working on 5 different projects pulling 16 hour days, your code is going to suffer. And once the code starts to suffer, each new feature takes longer and longer, needs to be redone over and over, and pretty soon it costs as much as if you’d done it onshore (but with more headaches).
Third, timezones alone can wreak havoc with your timeline. When your working hours are completely disjoint, emails that take 5 minutes to answer take 12 hours to get to them, simply because they asked a question while you were asleep and you answered when they were asleep. This means you can go back and forth for days on a very simple issue, eating up valuable time in your launch schedule.
Best in class, onshore developers, though, can be risky if you haven’t yet achieved market fit. Sure, they’re fast, and high quality, but if you accidentally asked them to build the wrong product, you’re out a lot of money. This is always a danger, but when development goes quickly, it can keep you from realizing your mistake until too late.
The best thing you can do is get a technical co-founder who’s signing on for equity – but lots of folks go about getting a CTO all wrong, and building that relationship, again, takes time.
Many startups dream of being able to use student developers – folks who are still in school for computer science and are looking to bulk up their resume. The problem with that is, how do you find them? How do you know they’re good?
There’s a new startup out of Williams College that seeks to solve that problem: Algora. Algora does the leg work of reaching out to student programmers at fantastic schools and onboarding them onto the platform, where startups can post code bounties and students can complete them.
We at Lithobyte have used Algora for our own projects to great success, even hiring one of the students with whom we’ve worked. It seems to us that Algora is an excellent fit for many startups looking for the low cost and high quality that student developers can offer, without the hassle of finding them yourself.
Fixed Price and the Illusion of Control
When clients come to us, especially new clients, we often get asked to work with them on a fixed price basis. The reason for this usually boils down to a desire to contain the costs and limit the timeline. If you want a project to only take so long and cost so much, why not bake it into the contract itself? Or so the thinking goes.
Paradoxically, however, fixed price projects do nothing to contain the risks of an overpriced, extended-timeline outcome, and, if anything, make them more likely.
First of all, something everyone agrees upon: a startup is a risk. Uncertainty is the only certainty when building a new thing. Before product-market fit is achieved, your product will necessarily go through a multitude of changes, and it is nigh impossible to predict those changes from the outset.
Second, in a situation in which things can and must change frequently, the best way to hamstring yourself is to create a fixed, inflexible plan at the beginning. Imagine, for a moment, that you and your consultant agree to a fixed price contract with milestones, timelines associated with those milestones, and payments to be made on successful implementation of those milestones. After a few weeks and some user interviews, it becomes clear that drastic changes need to be made to the product if it is to ever be successful. Unfortunately, your consultants are contractually obligated to complete the project as specified in the contract. Worse, as the consultants deliver on those milestones towards a product that is now useless to you, you will be contractually obligated to pay them for it anyway!
Finally, fixed price projects, fundamentally, are attempts to shift the risk from the client to the consultant – meaning that the consultants will have a fiduciary obligation to give a quote that is far above what I think it will cost to do the project. In such a situation, the incentive changes from “how do I build the best product possible” to “how do I turn a profit even in a worst case scenario?” A consultant will then run through some scenarios and how much they would cost to fix – and then set the price to cover those worst case scenarios. This often:
– is the exact opposite of what the client is trying to achieve by asking for a fixed price (namely, contain the costs),
– sets up an adversarial client-consultant relationship, since now the consultant must say no to any changes proposed by the client,
– greatly restricts flexibility, resulting in an ineffective product, and
– results in a lower quality product overall by incentivizing an extremely conservative approach in the consultant.
Our goal is to provide clients with the best service resulting in the best product possible – and fixed prices prevent us from doing that. This also seems to be the consensus among the best developers we’ve worked with, and who are also reluctant to work under fixed price contracts.
Time and materials projects, on the other hand, give the client ultimate control over the cost and timeline of the project. Consultants work at the direction of the client, and the client determines what is worked on, when, and for how long. This allows them the flexibility to change course when required, to cut their losses on features that aren’t worthwhile, and respond quickly to user feedback. Paradoxically, by NOT agreeing on a scope, a price, and a timeline, clients are much more likely to achieve all three.
QA for Startups
Quality Assurance, or QA for short, is an important part of any app development process. QA helps identify potential issues before your app gets in front of users, which results in happy customers, more revenue, and lower development costs in the long run.
However, QA can also be a significant cost for a startup, depending on how much confidence in a product stakeholders require. QA can involve anything from just having someone open the app before you hit the final publish button all the way through a full-on QA Engineer writing extensive amounts of code that verifies the functionality of other code.
What it should not include, however, is developers spending cycles attempting to find bugs in the application they wrote. There are a few reasons for this.
First, developers are often one of the largest expenses in creating an app. Having your most expensive worker doing things that others are just as qualified to do is a recipe for going over budget.
Second, developers are notoriously bad at finding bugs in their own work – and it’s not because they’re stubborn, as tempting as that is to believe. The issue is that, as the architects of what actually appears on the screen, they have internalized the ‘proper’ way to do things. They know the way the system is meant to be used on an almost innate level, making thinking outside of that box difficult to say the least.
Third, developers think deeply about all the things that could go wrong in an application. Unfortunately, if they spent all their time preventing each of those things, the app would never be finished. Without a sense of how to prioritize various problems, developers will inevitably try to fix the wrong things – resulting in higher costs for the client.
As a result, LithoByte recommends one of two things: either including QA engineers explicitly in the project from the beginning, or have startup-internal contributors do some amount of testing themselves. If the former, startups should prepare for additional costs (though not as much as if they had no QA at all – you’ll pay for it now, or later, when your users report the bugs to you).
The latter (having a someone internal to the startup do testing), often means that the founder or a co-founder is testing out the application themselves. This is a good thing on several levels. As we’ve previously discussed in our article on bugs, founders often have a vision in their head of how an app should behave, but, through the process of reducing that vision to the imperfect medium of words, an incomplete version of that vision is communicated to the developers (not to mention the further translation into code). Having the founder frequently review the product has huge advantages, and allows the team to resolve discrepancies earlier in the process. This is often the cheapest, most effective way to accomplish QA.
Luckily, both Apple and Google have built in ways to test apps out before they get to live users. We highly recommend that, even if you have external QA consultants checking over the product, you also make use of the these tools to do internal testing by at least one stakeholder before releasing the application.
Anatomy of a Bug
Many non-technical stakeholders believe a bug is exclusively the result of programming ‘mistakes.’ However, this is often not the case; there can be many causes for what people colloquially refer to as “bugs.” In this article we’ll go through some common ones, but first, let’s provide a definition of a bug.
What is a bug?
Fundamentally, a bug is a mismatch between how the user expects a product to behave and the way it does behave. (In fact, one of the most common formats for reporting a bug includes a description of the expected behavior and the actual behavior, both of which are required to specify the bug.)
Causes of bugs
Now let’s take a look at common causes for bugs, keeping the above definition in mind.
Programming for safety
Developers think hard about what can go wrong in a product, and how to prevent such situations from arising. In the process, programmers often make certain actions impossible, so as to prevent users from accidentally doing damage to the system. However, for an end user, this can be frustrating, and even result in a bug report.
As an example, imagine a product built to allow collaborative form editing: it has fields created by an admin, and workers fill out the form. Now suppose the admin decides that a field is positioned improperly, and so attempts to delete/recreate the field in the right place. When they go to save the revised form, however, the old field is still there. The company then reports this to their developers as a bug.
Is this a bug though? Let’s consider. When building the product, the developers considered data loss to be a worst case scenario, so they made it impossible to lose data (this is a good thing!). When the admin attempted to delete the old field, this would have resulted in all the previous data that workers inputted to it to be lost – so the system behaved as designed and prevented that loss.
However, obviously, this is preventing the user from doing something they want to do. It should be changed in some way or another. But ultimately, this isn’t a mistake per se – the system was behaving in the way it was designed, and it was designed in a reasonable way. While it was reported as a bug, it amounts to a new feature request.
Similarly, sometimes a user will attempt to do something that the system does not support. As an example, consider a business equipment rental application, wherein a user can submit a request to their project manager to rent some equipment.
A bug is reported to the developers of the application: a user has attempted to submit a rental request repeatedly, but the application reports an error each time. However, upon further investigation, the user was attempting to insert emoji into the comment box – which is not supported by the database.
Is this really a bug? Had the consultant, from the beginning, suggested that supporting emoji be a top priority, the client would have balked – the application is for business purposes, so supporting emoji would be an unnecessary expense. If the client wants to support emojis, then that would reasonably be a feature request.
Overuse of a supported feature
If you’re familiar with the term DOS, then consider this as an accidental DOS attack. Sometimes users will make use of a feature far more than the developer (or business!) expected. For example, suppose a social media application has a feature wherein a user can upload a series of photos and the application’s server will generate a collage from them. As long as only a few people are using this feature at a time, everything works well – however, if the feature suddenly becomes very popular, it might end up overloading the server.
Is this a bug? If so, it’s a wonderful bug to have – it means that your service is popular! However, it obviously needs to be handled, and, again, a new “feature” would need to be requested to support the popularity of the collage making function.
Unexpected combinations of usage
Apps are complicated; they often involve tens or hundreds of thousands of lines of code. Users, too, are complicated. When these two sorts of complications interact, the results are often unexpected. We at LithoByte have often seen startups be shocked by how actual users end up using their app – not seldom is it ways that are completely counter to the way it was designed.
When a system’s features aren’t designed to be used together based on the client’s expectations of end user behavior, strange things can happen; and sometimes those strange things are reported as bugs. The important thing to remember here is that startups have limited resources – so planning for every possible use case is combinatorially, not to mention financially, infeasible. Again, if it comes up, it certainly needs to be resolved, but it is not a mistake, per se.
When a startup founder describes their product, they have a complete vision of it. However, reducing that vision to the imperfect medium of spoken or written language will necessarily result in an incomplete picture. When a developer then takes that incomplete description and attempts to translate it into code, even more of the original vision will be lost. (This is one of the many reasons LithoByte recommends an iterative approach to development – it allows us to work with our clients to, with time, bring the actual application closer to their vision of it.)
Miscommunications are a part of the process and happen in every project. When a product is designed differently than the stakeholders intended, it is an opportunity rather than a failure. By allowing lots of opportunities to identify miscommunications, you end up with a better product overall.
Given the above, a relatively small proportion of ‘bugs’ are actually oversights or mistakes. However, every piece of software is imperfectly built – the question is not if a product has bugs, but whether they bother end users enough to cause a company to lose money. In this way, rather than trying to aim for a bug-free application, aim for one that users enjoy using. That doesn’t mean that everything they try to do with it will work – only that users will give you the benefit of the doubt. And when you run across a genuine oversight, which at some point you almost certainly will, it’s important to regard them as an unavoidable part of the process, fix them, and attempt to prevent them from happening again.
Client Spotlight: Babblbox
Welcome to another edition of LithoByte’s Client Spotlight! Today we’re profiling Babblbox, an iOS app for finding cosplay costumes.
The newly released Babblbox app streamlines the process of finding and purchasing cosplay costume items. These folks have put a lot of work into combing through many different cosplay websites so you can easily search for the items you need to perfect your costume.
One of the things that’s impressed us about Babblbox is how thorough and methodical they are about crafting their product. They’ve been doing tons of interviews with users to make sure the app they’re building is something that end users actually want to use. They’re also building an incredibly detailed list of fandoms, characters, and versions of characters, as well as personally reaching out to people who create cosplay costumes on commission to offer their services through the app. It’s an incredible amount of work, and they’ve been organized, meticulous, and thoughtful throughout.
They’ve also been very clever and practical about their release goals. Due to their ruthless dedication to an MVP ethos, LithoByte was able to complete the first version of their app just 3 weeks after development began. Anyone who’s built any sort of reasonably complicated app knows that’s an outrageous timeline, and it’s only through their dedication to simplicity, ease of use, and their pragmatism towards highly desired but time-intensive features that we were able to get something done that fast.
The app is currently very simple, calling out popular genres, providing a searchable list of costume items, as well as a list of costume commissioners; we’ve seen the big plans they have down the road, and we’re excited to continue working with them.
The Babblbox app is available on the App Store now. Check it out!
Publishing your Android Application to the Google Play Store in 3 easy steps
This guide is intended to show you how to publish your Android application to the Google Play Store while following best practices.
Before publishing an app to the Play Store, you will want to create a Google Play account and pay the one-time developer registration fee of $25. Once you have this taken care of, you can move onto the developer console and create your first application.
Suppose you have been working on application and you’re happy with how it currently works. After you have finished your application and created a developer account, you will be faced with a somewhat overwhelming list of requirements, but fear not! We will guide you through everything 😄
Android Studio Bundling
In Android Studio go to Build>Generate Signed Bundle. This will launch a pop up and you should choose Android App Bundle because of Google’s new Dynamic Delivery Model. With the Android App Bundle, Google optimizes for each device that the app is launched on. APK is just a singular instance of your application.
Key Store Generation
Every application you publish needs to be signed so that Google can verify that you, and only you, are publishing the app. In order to sign your application you can either let Google take care of it or you can have the key on your local machine. I am somewhat skeptical of Google so I would rather generate my own key and manage it.
1. Generate a key store which essentially behaves as a storage for all the unique keys of your application.
2. Create a key alias and a password.
3. Make sure that you check this box so that your key can be used in the Play Console.
Google Play Console
Hit the blue button that says publish an app on Google Play. You will need to check off the items from the left hand side before you can roll out your new app.
Google has many tracks where your application can live. In this guide we will only discuss rolling your application out to production since it can very complex with A/B test, Alpha/Beta Launches, etc.
Store Listing: (Everything in this section is required)
After you upload the Bundle in the App Release section, you will be able to establish the content ratings of your application.
This process is fairly straightforward and if you answer everything truthfully, you will have no problems!
Is your app safe for kids? Do you allow there to be harmful content? Are there any ads on your application?
Pricing and Distribution
Which countries do you want your application to reach? Is your app free or is there some fee? For now we will assume you are publishing a free application to all the countries in the world since paid apps introduce another level of complexity. Make sure your application is GDPR Compliant if you’re distributing to the EU.
After all these tedious steps, you are ready to roll out your app to the Play Store. Head to the App Release section and roll your app out. It will take about a day for Google to review your application.
After your app is public, Google provides robust data analytics and crash report data about your application.
Competing with Amazon/Google etc for tech talent
We’ve written in the past about how to effectively evaluate developers, and our company provides a service where we will act as independent evaluators for startups that don’t currently have technical skills. Today, however, we’d like to discuss how to convince a developer to join your early stage startup once you’ve found someone you want to work with.
The Money Problem
Most early stage startups have one major problem: money, and specifically, having too little of it. On the other hand, large companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and the rest, have tons of money – billions – on which to spend on talented developers. How, then, can these startups attract talented developers, and convince them to take the risk? Why would an amazing dev take $60k and no benefits when they can work for a large tech firm and get $300k to start plus amazing perks?
Reframing the Comparison
When you put it that way, it seems pretty bleak. But as a startup, you have to realize what you’re selling (to the dev, your investors, and, ultimately, your customers). As a startup, you’ll never be able to compete with one of the tech giants on money.
Instead, frame the comparison as one of impact and experience. That is, look at what your potential hire will have control over (that is, what they’ll be impacting) at your company vs. a tech giant’s, and what kind of experience they’ll get at your company vs. a tech giant’s.
First, impact. At a giant, they’ll join a team of other (very talented, certainly) developers, and after onboarding they’ll be given a very, very small task. “The designer said we need to shift this text field over 2 pixels.” “We need to show a timestamp on this page in this spot.” “We have a minor bug that you need to fix which hopefully you can get it done before the next release, but no worries if it takes longer.” Sure, they’ll be shipping code that affects a large number of users, but will they really own it? Can they say they ‘built this app?’ No. At best they’ll be able to point to a part of the app and say, “I helped with that.”
At a startup, it’s all them. As a first hire, every line of code is theirs. They wrote it. They answer for it. As a second or third hire, even a later hire, they’ll be building whole features and screens. Now that is power, that is impact.
As for experience, big companies want devs to specialize. They’re hiring you to do one (1) job: whatever it was they were hired to do. They’ll only be doing that, for some amount of time (usually on the scale of year(s)).
At a startup, they will have to learn things on the fly. Sure there will be some things they’ll focus on, but building a product from scratch requires a broad knowledge of the entire system and all related systems. This is a huge career advantage, since so many companies want so called ‘T’ shaped developers: devs with both broad knowledge of development processes in general and deep knowledge in one area.
Lastly, at a startup, there’s never a dull moment. Everyone is responsible for building something, and it will be a huge challenge. Developers are in the business because they like solving problems; what, then, could be more fun than having the power, responsibility, and learning opportunities available at a startup?