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January 3, 2012 5:51 AM   Subscribe

I think I have a really good idea for a web-based/social networking/"gamification" project. What do I do now?

I've got an idea for a "gamelike" online social network, think something similar to Fitocracy. I have designed it in some detail, but I know the project would require capital to hire coders and buy hosting, etc.

I don't know how much money it would cost, and I don't know how to handle raising money or pitching the idea to a larger company without the risk of someone stealing it. I think the idea has the potential to be profitable through web ads and possibly downloadable content.

What the heck do I do?
posted by overeducated_alligator to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Previously. More previously. Please also be aware of the halcyon days of "and we'll make money from web ads!" is long gone - you are not investor ready until you have an actual revenue model.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:04 AM on January 3, 2012


I think I should specify that what I really need to know is how much such a project would cost. How do I figure that out, based on the structure of the thing on paper? I.e., how many programmers would it take, how much traffic would it need to be able to handle, etc.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 6:29 AM on January 3, 2012


I don't know how to handle raising money or pitching the idea to a larger company without the risk of someone stealing it

The last thing in the world you should really worry about is someone stealing your idea. The chances of it actually being original enough to "steal" it as a pure idea (no execution at all) are slim to none - leaning heavily on none. What you need to do is talk to someone that understands software development - either someone you know or a personal recommendation for a consultancy shop that does.

There are two things you need before you should worry about raising money or attempting to pitch the idea to larger companies:

1) An actual product. Not necessarily the complete product, not necessarily your vision, but something that actually works, and that people have used and given you feedback about.

2) Customers using the product.

You might be able to get somewhere without #2, but without #1 it's an idea with zero execution, which is also the amount it is worth.

think I should specify that what I really need to know is how much such a project would cost.

You might--might--be able to get a minimum viable social network product off the ground at a consultancy for $50-100K, but without scoping it out, it's hard to say. A good consultant coder will run you at least $15K a month in billing at full time.

how much traffic would it need to be able to handle

If you get this product off the ground, you probably won't have to worry about traffic up front. If you do need to worry about the system's capacity, you either have a bad product that doesn't scale or you've got so much business it qualifies as a good problem that you should then be able to throw some money and talent at and get it fixed.
posted by ndfine at 6:57 AM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Forgot to say:

What the heck do I do?

Find developers and get a quote. A real, highly detailed specification will cost you money. If it doesn't, they're probably not worth talking to.

Also, learn to code, at least a little. Have an idea of how it all works.

I think the idea has the potential to be profitable through web ads and possibly downloadable content.

Probably not, but maybe on the latter. Almost definitely not on the former.
posted by ndfine at 7:03 AM on January 3, 2012


I can't speak to the IP protection aspect, but I think you need to find some kind of web application development consultant to give you a quote because much of the cost will depend on required functionality.

On preview, ndfine's numbers bear out my experience, but remember you'll also need a designer, a writer and/or copyeditor, and a marketing budget. And those numbers are probably for light personalization of an off-the-shelf CMS like Elgg or Drupal. A custom platform would cost more.
posted by smirkette at 7:05 AM on January 3, 2012


Kevin Rose had Digg built in India for $4000 I think? I'm not suggesting that route, because it doesn't sound like you have the background to project manage remote developers, nor do you have the sort of requirements document necessary to get this thing built. And that number probably doesn't include a lot of work he had to do on his own once he got the site from the developers.

You need somebody that understands software development for the web / mobile space that can at least give you a rough estimate of the level of effort required. Then once you have that number you can decide how to finance it.
posted by COD at 7:26 AM on January 3, 2012


Go to StartupWeekend.org.

Friday night you get 5 minutes to pitch your idea. The room is full of programmers. If they like your idea, they will spend the rest of the weekend building it.
posted by MoJoPokeyBlue at 10:13 AM on January 3, 2012


All the stuff above is spot on. I would add that marketing/advertising for a social networking site is a key part of the development. If your idea can work stand-alone, if it can be fully realized with only one customer using it, then ignore the rest of this. However if your idea relies on other users to make it interesting (like Twitter, Metafilter, Facebook, etc.) then you have to have a plan for getting people to use it and retaining those people. That will typically take people, work, and money. Probably a lot more money than the coders unless you or your marketing people are very well networked.
posted by Ookseer at 11:19 AM on January 3, 2012


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