Navigating App Development For Early Stage Startups


Working in the B2B SaaS space, it’s easy to treat technology as the be-all and end-all of your business. But that couldn’t be further from reality. Technology is a tool — albeit a powerful one — you should use to validate your business assumptions and drive your startup’s growth. After all, the point of building an application is to fix human problems. To that end, be strategic with your technological investments by using these principles to help ensure your startup can withstand the long haul to success.

Aligning Your Technology Investments to Your Business Needs 

Take a step back and ask yourself, “What phase along the startup journey is my business currently in?” For some, your company will be nothing more than an idea. For others, you’re already in the development phase.


Idea Phase Validation Phase Development Phase Refinement Phase

Evaluate the business potential of your concept. 

Test and refine your concept.

Transform your concept into a product. 

Assess your product’s readiness for launch. 


If your startup is still in the Idea Phase, it’s probably a little early to start hiring a development team. Likewise, let’s say you’re in the development phase; consider using low to no-code solutions like Glide or FlutterFlow to build your prototype. Because your Minimal Viable Product (MVP) doesn’t have to be beautiful, it just needs to work. Not to mention, using no-code solutions enables a more efficient development process and allows you to reach multiple platforms with a single code base. 

Depending on the phase your startup is in, you have different priorities. 

You can make the most of your startup’s limited resources by approaching each phase of your app’s development with the specificity it deserves. Doing so sharpens your focus and allows you to identify and bring online the resources you need when you need them. All you’ll achieve by treating technology as a goal unto itself is a lot of expenses that do little to help your business grow. 

Avoiding Premature Scaling and Over-Engineering

For developers and technical founders, the allure of scaling your technology is almost constant. That appeal is ingrained in the software development mindset. But when you look beyond all that code, you realize there are human implications: People who have to use, build, maintain, support, and take your technology to market. Don’t lose sight of this symbiotic relationship because doing so will lead to a host of problems. 

Technical founders often lean too heavily on coding as their ultimate solution. There’s a misconception that more features mean more success. And that’s not always the case, far from it. Sometimes, founders can get so far ahead of themselves that they build a custom technology without a clear problem to solve. Then, they’ll compound the issue and craft a customer journey retroactively to fit that groundbreaking tech. But that path only leads to expensive inefficiencies. 

So, how do we resist the premature urge to scale to the moon?

Start by articulating the requirements for your product, especially if you’re running a resource-strapped early-stage startup. If you’re operating without a dedicated product manager, you’ll have to get creative with your solutions. However, tools like Trello can help you tackle immediate challenges and capture the thought processes behind tasks, allowing scalability to become a future concern. Also, establish success metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide clarity so you don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees. 

Whether you’re well-versed in the technological landscape or this is your first rodeo, your focus should be on using technology to validate and improve your business case. Blend technical prowess with an understanding of human needs and business strategy to pave the way for the scalability you’ll eventually need.


Want to learn more?

Watch the webinar discussion that the content from this article came from to dive deeper into navigating app development for early-stage startups.


Using Low and No-Code Platforms to Test Concepts 

The emergence of low-code and no-code tools has been a game-changer for SaaS startups. Platforms like Glide and FlutterFlow offer accessible solutions to address technical challenges, depending on your situation. For example, founders without much technical experience should consider using Glide; it's less customizable but allows you to build basic prototypes for validation. Those who want a platform that dovetails with traditional software development and can build fully native applications should try FlutterFlow. 

But even when using no-code platforms, data management can’t be overlooked. Tools like Zapier — which work hand-in-glove with the platforms that build your interface and gather your data — are invaluable for their ability to migrate data between systems. All these options provide early-stage businesses with a way to prove their case without sinking resources they don't have into development. 

Unfortunately, many startups that make it to Series A and B stages use that funding to untangle expensive experiments and address technical debt.

So, don’t stick your nose up at using no-code tools to test your concepts. It’ll likely keep you from getting bogged down in costly details that are better handled when you’ve built a stable foundation for your business.

Focusing on Execution, Not Romanticizing Your Idea

Many aspiring entrepreneurs share a common fear: Someone with a lot more resources will catch wind of their idea, swoop in, and take it for themselves. It's an understandable concern but a little overblown. Founders who worry about this convince themselves that their success hinges on the uniqueness of their idea. But the real test is about execution. Because entrepreneurship isn't a sprint; it's a marathon that demands a substantial commitment of time and energy.

You're better off sharing your ideas with others to validate your concept and differentiate yourself from the competition. And if you're a founder lacking technical skills, immerse yourself in the tools available, experiment, and learn the basics. Getting hands-on experience will perfect your execution, helping facilitate effective communication with technical teams when the time comes. 

Transitioning Between Technical Teams 

Let's say your startup reaches the point where investing in development teams is called for. When that time comes, you may wonder about who retains the ownership of your app's code. Establish upfront, ideally in your contract agreement, that intellectual property ownership resides with you, the founder. 

Also, don't be surprised if you end up switching development teams several times, including if/when you bring development in-house. Those transitions can get messy if you don't have the right processes and infrastructure setup to handle them. That's why we recommend having someone with prior experience come on board as a Technical Advisor to help you navigate these moments. They don't have to be full-time, and their guidance can be invaluable.

Closing Thoughts

Running an early-stage startup strapped for resources takes savviness and a willingness to be nimble. Technology can help you accomplish that, but not to a fault. Be strategic about when you start investing in technological tools based on where your business is in its startup journey. Prioritize execution over perfection, otherwise, you'll never get your app off the ground. And make sure you collaborate with development partners you can trust.