Team Up, Build and Ship

Sam Jones By Sam Jones  |  Jun. 11, 2013

If you’re a designer or developer with an idea for a new product or website, the chances are that you will need someone who has the skills that you lack in order to help make it a reality. It’s a problem that we all recognise but one that some appear to have more trouble solving than others.

On numerous occasions I’ve seen app concepts posted to Dribbble that have been highly praised by commenters but unfortunately will seemingly never materilize. Why? Well the designer’s excuse is usually that they don’t know anybody that would help to build it.

With developers, it’s often the case that they don’t know anybody that would help to design it.

If you’re guilty of making such excuses then you’ll know that this isn’t entirely true. There’s plenty of designers and developers out there that you could hire to do the job. The real problem is not having the funds to do so, which means having to find someone who’s willing to do these things for free.

Well, not quite.

Anybody who’s going to put work into a project is going to want to be paid something for their efforts. This is why, if you’re not able to pay someone a set fee, you’re going to need to find someone who believes in what you’re trying to do, isn’t afraid to take a risk and is willing to invest their time in return for a share of the profits.

What you need to find is a partner.


Preparing for your search

In a lot of ways finding a partner is similar to finding an investor, except rather than investing their money they’ll be investing their time and it’s up to you to sell them your idea and convince them that it’s going to be worth doing so. 

It’s not going to be as simple as sending someone an e-mail and just saying “Hey, I’ve got this idea for an app. It’s going to be like OpenTable but for bars. I was wondering if you wanted to partner up and help me bring it to life?”.

If you find someone that’s interested it’s likely that there’s going to be a lot of back and forth as no doubt they’ll have a number of questions. Even after exchanging a handful of e-mails and phone calls they might decide that it’s just not for them. As a result, you may have to repeat the process several times before finding a willing candidate.


Where to look

Once you’re ready to get your search underway, a good place to start is by asking friends for recommendations as they can put you in touch with people that they may have worked with in the past. This is helpful because that way you know that at least they can be relied upon and your friend can assure them that you’re a trustworthy character.

Next up is Twitter. Simply send out a couple of tweets explaining that you’re looking for someone with a particular set of skills to help with your latest project and that you would appreciate if those with said skills were to get in touch. You should also ask your followers if they have any recommendations.

Following that, check out some of the websites designed especially for connecting designers and developers. Two popular examples are and Programmer Meet Designer, both of which are free and easy to use. All you have to do is sign up and post a couple of details about your project along with a list of the skills required to help finish the job. You could also try a promising new tool called the newsletter which aims to pair up designers and developers via a weekly newsletter. Simply submit your name, contact details and a 140 character description of your project and have it sent directly to a list of designers and developers eager to work on new projects.

Finally, you can also take a more direct approach by searching for people with the required skills on websites such as Linkedin, Zerply, Dribbble, or via a good old fashioned Google search. Once you’ve found a suitable candidate, contact them directly, explain your situation and ask them if they would be interested in discussing it in further detail. If they live in the local area you could even arrange to meet up and talk about it over a coffee (on you of course).


Just remember

Once you’ve finally found someone willing to team up, remember that you’ve agreed on forming a partnership and that they are not working for you but with you. Just because the idea was yours doesn’t mean that everything has to be your way. It should be a collaborative process and you should remain open to the other person’s ideas. If you don’t then you could very quickly find yourself back at square one.

On the other hand, if all goes well, it could be the beginning of what proves to be a long and prosperous business relationship.

So, to conclude, if you do have an idea for a new product or website, don’t let lack of skill or money hold you back. Bootstrap your ideas into actual products – team up, build and ship.


Have you teamed up to develop a product? Are you currently searching for partners to work on a project? Let us know in the comments.

Featured image by Michael Himbeault.