How to Choose the Right Development House to Build Your App

05/18/2015 07:03 am ET | Updated May 18, 2016

As an entrepreneur, I run into people all the time that have great app ideas. They're in the early concept stage, and a budding future founder pitches me a great way to solve a problem. But often, he or she has a huge problem: they don't know how to code, and they don't know any developers. This hurdle sends them into a huge spiral - I watch a good idea ultimately fail because it gets built the wrong way. They use the wrong developers who don't know how to code, take too long, or don't understand the entrepreneur's vision. It's a frustrating process, and if you don't have a team you trust and know, there will be a change, and all your hard earned investment goes down the drain, along with your idea.

So what's the key to finding the right developers to build your amazing app idea? There are several criteria I've found that are essential in picking the right development house to select the best team for your project. My personal favorite has been STRV, who has met all the criteria in delivering a reliable product.

1. Try Building a Wireframe first, or Build with the team: Most first time app entrepreneurs come to me because they receive 5-10 quotes from different developers ranging from $5,000 to $100,000. This is obviously confusing. I try to liken it to building a house. How does the team know how to price it unless you give them some blueprints? They're not sure if they're building a one bedroom bungalow or a huge mansion, and depending on how you described it, they're interpreting it differently in their head than you actually may be thinking. Building the blue prints using Omnigraffle, or Justinmind by yourself or even having the team do it as part of the bid will give you an exact price range with less wiggle room.

2. How are they building? Ask if they are building native or on an engine. What code base are they using? Most "native" apps choose to go either iOS or android first, work out the features for the first few iterations and then build for the other platform once they have A/B tested. Get quotes on both. If they're using an engine or using HTML5, it's possible to build for both platforms at the same time. See examples of the work first, as HTML5 is improving in its functionalities, however, it's not quite there. Find a development house that has built using many of these methodologies and are flexible to the needs of the customer, rather than building based on their own skill set alone.

3. How long will it take? Everything is based on deadlines, and in my personal experience, always take whatever time they tell you, and multiple by two. Mostly because you'll make changes through the process, debug, etc. and it just takes longer than expected. Always. However, you can usually check around and find developers that are faster than other developers. Ask these questions when you are searching for excellence because they are the right questions and are probing enough to find your better developers. Ask your potential development house who they've worked with and if they always hit their deadlines, which is incredibly rare. If you're going to have to hit your monthly goals, so must they!

4. Who's working on it? Some teams like to outsource to another country and keep a project manager domestically for customer service reasons. Others like to keep everything in house for more control. Typically you'll get more cost effective pricing if they outsource, depending on where the outsourcing takes place. The downside is sometimes outside your country, the code isn't noted properly, and if you hand it off to another team, they won't want to use it.

5. Always look at their portfolio. Look at their portfolio projects and ask specifically what they worked on and when they handed the project over to the internal team. It's possible they worked on a great project...but their code was barely used. Don't be afraid to reach out to the client and ask how the project went, and if they'd recommend it.

6. Choose a team with plenty of experience. You want an advanced team that's worked on many successful projects with similar features and UI to your own. Whether you're familiar with them or not, is not relevant, because the development team wasn't responsible for the marketing. Focus on apps that are similar to yours, with features that work like yours will work. Find a development house that has been in business creating apps for years (not months), and has many qualified developers, so they've seen and made it all. I always make sure I'm guaranteed to have an engineer who knows how to build what I'm looking for.

7. Evaluate the Design Team: A lot of development houses offer a full design team who will create the assets and branding for your app. These designers will insure your vision translates in terms of user interface, user experience, and of course, colors and branding. When you've narrowed it to the top 2 or 3 designs, see if they'll mock up a few screens of what you describe to see if the team correctly understands your vision for your app.