How to make sure no one builds your million-dollar app

No one wants to steal your idea

It seems like everyone these days has a million-dollar app idea. They search for a group of developers on the Internet and say something like this:

I need a developer to make a mobile app. Message me for details.

This is the best way to make sure no one builds your million-dollar app, because no developer will build it at all! Are you going to tell us what you want to build? What technologies you’re using? Compensation? And don’t get me started on all the people that only want to pay in equity and force devs to sign non-disclosure agreements before even mentioning what the “million-dollar idea” is.

Ideas are cheap, execution is expensive. Developers are in high demand right now, why would we want to devote hundreds of hours into your project? Students are busy preparing for internships, and software engineers have tons of responsibilities. Why should we help you “for the experience?”

The Right Way

Read the UTCS guide to job offerings. Even if you’re not talking to UT computer science students, these guidelines will help when communicating with any group of developers. You don’t need to provide a corporation-length description, just provide a few basic details:

  • DO research your idea and its feasibility
  • DO talk about your company and how it relates to the project
  • DO use details when describing your app/website/product/service
  • DO list compensation
  • DON’T demand candidates to sign an NDA
  • DON’T expect anyone to work for free or only for equity
  • DON’T expect any software project to be completed in a weekend

Here’s an example of a better offering:

Hi, I’m the co-founder of DogDay, a startup that’s like uber for pets, except we bring pets to the users to play with. Currently, we have a UX engineer/frontend developer, and we’re in the process of building our minimum viable product, an iPhone app. We’re looking to hire a dev (10-20 hrs/week) to work on our backend with a target release date about three months from now. Compensation is $30/hr or more based on experience. We use Swift and Parse, though this may change in the coming months. Shoot me a message at if you’re interested!

This poster gets major points for being open about his idea. It’s obvious what his company does, and he provided a decent level of detail–it’s not just an idea the poster thought up an hour ago. Even better, the poster has realistic expectations of a time and compensation commitments.

Now that you know why one-line job postings suck, you can recruit developers for your project.

What do you like to see in a job offering?

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4 Responses to How to make sure no one builds your million-dollar app

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