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Choosing An App Development Company: Insights From Founders And CEOs

Ari Lew  |  Mar 1, 2024  |  

Mobile apps have never been more important for a company’s ongoing success. According to Deloitte, customer reliance on smartphones is increasing every year. If current trends continue, mobile is set to not just overtake but actually displace other devices for certain functions. 

For example, in 2023, 43% of survey respondents said that mobile was their preferred channel for making online purchases. This means that any ecommerce business without a strong mobile app is losing out on a large section of their potential audience. The same holds true for browsing shopping websites (44% prefer mobile for this) or carrying out any online search, with exactly half of the survey respondents choosing mobile over another device. 

Given just how important mobile apps are across all contexts, the quality of the app needs to be second to none. But when choosing an app development company, what do you need to look for?


What founders and CEOs look for

A lot goes into the ideation, development, and deployment of a mobile app. To guide you through the selection maze, we've gathered seven insights from founders and CEOs. From initiating pilot projects to assess vendor fit to understanding how to use Upwork for partner vetting, these industry leaders share their specific tips and steps for a strategic partnership search.


Assess vendor fit with pilot projects

Undertaking a large project with a new company or outsourced team is undoubtedly a risk. For all the talk of company processes and quality guarantees, the only way to truly know how a company performs is by working with them. 

One approach, as outlined by Ben Lau, the Founder of Featured SEO Company, is to commission a pilot project to see if the company is a fit. 

“Define a specific task or feature of your mobile application and have the vendor develop it within a limited timeframe,” Ben says. “This allows you to assess their technical expertise, work quality, adherence to deadlines, and compatibility with your team.”

“An example could be assigning a task to develop a basic login screen. Through this pilot project, you can gain valuable insights and make an informed decision on whether the vendor is the right fit for your software development needs.”

This is an excellent tip – provided you have a large project in the pipeline. If you don’t feel it is worthwhile commissioning a small project, there are other approaches you can take.

Hands of developers choosing icons for new mobile application

Research and engage with vendors

One approach is to really commit to the research phase and actively engage with vendors. The important aspect here is how you do it, as the devil truly is in the details. 

Faizan Khan, Public Relations and Content Marketing Specialist at Ubuy UK says that, while carrying out research to find a top-tier software development firm for your mobile app projects, you need to “Examine portfolios, client reviews, and case studies to make the right choice.”

He goes on to clarify that you should, “Always emphasize vendors with experience in the app's technology stack. Engage in direct conversations, understanding communication skills, and project management approach.”

As with Ben, Faizan also suggests commissioning a small pilot project to see if the vendor is the right fit. However, with such an intense research process and in-depth conversations, you may already know enough to make up your mind.


Prioritize industry-specific experience

No two mobile apps are exactly the same – but some are closer than others. This insight is at the heart of Nooran Zafarmand’s advice. As Co-Founder and CEO of Japamana, Nooran specializes in the education space, specifically teaching Japanese. 

According to her tip, you should, “prioritize those development firms that have a strong grasp of your particular industry. Their industry-relevant experience can make a world of difference in the outcome of your project.”

While this is excellent advice, we have found that it isn’t always the case. At Asymm, we have worked with a variety of industries, ranging from insurance to a NY bakery and beyond. Our understanding of our customers’ vision and needs – combined with a world-class development team – enables us to deliver across industries.


Examine customer feedback and project records

What’s the first thing you do before going to a new restaurant? You check the online reviews, of course. So, when it comes to your mobile development app project, you should be doing exactly the same thing. 

This is what Abid Salahi, Co-Founder and CEO, FinlyWealth, points out when giving his insights. Of course, commissioning an app is more important than eating at a restaurant, so the level of effort you put into looking at the company reviews needs to be proportionally higher. 

As Abid says, “In the dynamic world of tech, outsourcing a project requires a strategic approach. Start the process online by researching potential firms. Go beyond their flashy portfolios: examine customer feedback and project delivery records.” 

Abid goes on to echo the advice of both Ben Lau and Faizan Khan, recommending either a pilot project or proof-of-concept (PoC). “Not only does this show the firm’s understanding of your requirements,” he argues, “but it also offers insight into their efficiency, giving you added peace of mind.”


Vet with recommendations and references

Customer reviews are great assets when determining the quality of an app development company, but you are limited by what’s available online. The CEO and Founder of Startup House, Alex Stasiak, recommends that you go one step further and reach out to past clients. 

As Alex says, “Once you have a shortlist, vet each vendor by scheduling a call or meeting to discuss your project in detail. Ask about their expertise, previous experience with similar projects, and their development process.”

Standard procedure so far, but his specific tip goes beyond this to ensure you get a better understanding of their capabilities. He says to request, “references from past clients who have worked on similar projects.”

“This will give you valuable insights into the vendor's reliability, communication skills, and ability to meet deadlines. By following these steps, you can find a reputable software development firm that aligns with your project goals and ensures a successful outsourcing experience.”


Use Upwork for partner vetting

Robert Brill, CEO, Brill Media takes a different tact from the others, recommending Upwork or similar platforms. “I'd go to Upwork,” Robert says, “vet partners there, and look for ways to have a longer-term relationship with them. This approach works for me because I have context on their prior work.”

While this is a valid approach for small development projects, it can prove challenging for any larger undertaking. We’ve spoken about Upwork, Fiverr, and other platforms in the context of web design before – but the arguments hold true for mobile app development too. Essentially, when you move beyond casual work, it becomes exceedingly difficult to manage a team using marketplace websites.


Ready to vet us at Asymm?

Eric Novinson, Founder at This Is Accounting Automation recommends looking for startups  because they are “likely to be more skilled and motivated than the developers you can find on marketplace sites.” 

At Asymm, we’ve taken this concept and built it into our company’s best practices. Everyone on our team, from the nearshore developers to project managers and beyond, are committed to bringing your vision to life from day one.

That’s why we stand by the quality of our work and are happy to talk frankly and honestly with you about any new projects. If you are considering outsourcing a mobile app development project, we are available for commitment-free calls to discuss next steps.

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Written by Ari Lew

Ari is the Ceo and Co-founder of Asymm. With a passion for product design and media, Ari oversees the UX/UI practice at Asymm and leads client success at the company.