Software Development for Startups: All-in-One Guide

Imagine discovering that your app is missing a few buttons days before release. These could happen if your software team is not guided by proper software development for startup guidelines. Conversely, applying a structured software development lifecycle ensures you create an app that closely aligns with users’ needs.

According to a survey, only 52% of software projects passed post-release quality checks, and 57% of software developments failed because of poor project management. And we want to prevent your startup from suffering the same fate.

At Uptech, we recognize founders' unique challenges and their need to quickly reach the market with a fitting product. Over the years, we’ve helped 150+ startups worldwide release apps their customers found helpful. For example, we built Aspiration for a fintech startup and managed to keep it 99% crash-free.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the software development process we use so you can produce equally remarkable products.

app development company

What’s the Purpose of Software Development for Startups?

Most founders would find themselves hiring software developers or seeking outsourcing partners soon after they launched their startups. However, the motivation for building software differs for several reasons.

software development for startups

Validating business ideas

Instead of entering the market with a feature-rich solution, you can build a minimum viable product (MVP) to test their assumptions. An MVP is software that consists of the most essential features for users.

Let’s say you want to launch a P2P payment app in the US market. To validate your idea, you build an MVP that lets users send money via phone number and release it to the targeted users. Based on the feedback, you decide whether to invest more resources into the development.

Scaling for growth

Once you gain traction with the app, you want to scale as traffic grows. By hosting the apps on the cloud, you can increase the computing resources as and when required to meet growing demand. Moreover, you can expand into new markets without substantially more operating expenses. If you face hiring difficulties for that, try outsourcing your projects to reliable IT specialists.

Collecting and analyzing data

By adopting a product mindset, you can develop software ware that helps you collect and analyze data. This way, you can make informed decisions and scale your business confidently.. Whether identifying buying trends or assessing customer sentiment, you can integrate analytics capabilities into your app. The app then sends the data back to the server for storage, processing, and analysis.

Gathering user feedback

When running a startup, user feedback is vital to continually serving the market with a useful app. To do that, you need to listen to what users say, and the app offers the most straightforward way to do so. For example, you can integrate an AI-powered chatbot that answers common questions and sends feedback to your customer support team.

Startup Software Development Process: 10 Key Phases

Software development for startup companies is a complex process that requires close collaboration between different software experts. We break it down into phases that help you understand what transpires and why they matter.

startup software development process

1. Conceptualization and ideation

You start by brainstorming possible solutions that might work for the market with your team. At this point, don’t worry about proving the ideas right. Instead, keep an open mind to all opinions and suggestions from your team members.

You can use mind mapping, round-robin brainstorming, and other frameworks to support the ideation process. What’s important is to collect all suggestions and allow all members to speak.

Then, conduct market research to see how different companies tackle the same problem. This helps you identify opportunity gaps your app can fill. It’s also important to consider possible risks and challenges for each idea you’ve listed.

2. Validating business and market fit

Next, you must validate your app ideas with respective stakeholders to ensure product-market fit. At Uptech, we do this in the product discovery phase.

  • Start by identifying the target audience who face the problems you’re trying to solve.
  • Then, interview them and seek feedback on your app idea.
  • Talk to at least 10 potential users to get unbiased feedback.

Once you’ve validated the idea with users, analyze competitors offering similar services. Discuss how you will differentiate your app to capture the market. More importantly, think of ways to monetize your app.

Again, involve your target audience in shaping critical decisions at this stage. For example, asking the audience if they’ll pay for certain features helps you to adjust your monetization strategies.

software development for startup

3. Monetization models and revenue strategies

Startups need to make money to remain in business. Considering that mobile app revenue is predicted to hit $678 billion by 2027, it’s worth spending more time strategizing monetization. That’s why it's crucial to determine how to monetize your app in the early development stage.

Some apps offer freemium subscriptions, where users can use certain free features but must pay to unlock advanced features. You can also run ads within the app, but be mindful not to disrupt user experience.

Other monetization strategies to consider are

  • In-app purchases. This approach is popular in gaming apps, where players buy in-game items with real money.
  • Paid subscription. A simple way to generate recurring revenue is by periodically billing subscribers.
  • Sponsorship. An arrangement where a brand pays to place their content in your app.

You can learn how free and paid apps make money in this article. We also explain when it’s better to use freemium, subscription, or other monetization models.

4. Design thinking and UX/UI principles

Design thinking is a software practice that focuses on building human-centric software that solves real problems. For example, Netflix is aware of user’s need for content that is not airing on traditional networks. It included such content to address the problem its subscribers face, further strengthening its position as an on-demand streaming provider. On the other hand, Nokia’s downfall resulted from its reluctance to adopt Android, which was broadly accepted by mobile phone users.

When developing software, pay attention to the entire user journey, from signing up to using advanced app features. Remember that proper use of visuals, interactive elements, and interfaces can positively impact user experience.

Hiring good UI/UX designers helps create engaging apps. Among their responsibilities, UI/UX designers create an architectural view of the MVP. They demonstrate how different software modules interact with wireframes and prototypes, giving developers a better idea of the entire app when building it.

If you want to hire UI/UX designers, check out these platforms.

5. Technology stack selection and management

Next on the list is choosing the right tech stack, which can be challenging. Apps targeting different platforms require different programming languages, frameworks, and development tools. Likewise, you’ll need various software technologies to build different features.

For example, Android Studio is commonly used to develop Android apps, while XCode is for iOS applications. However, Flutter is more suitable for building cross-platform apps that don’t require native functionalities. Also, consider which development tools and resources you need to develop backend services.

When choosing a tech stack, assessing your team member’s expertise and experience is important. Some expertise, such as AI and machine learning development, is scarce in certain cities where startups are based. If that’s the case, consider collaborating with an outsourced development team.

6. Agile development and project management

If you haven’t already, we recommend adopting Agile practices in your startup software development lifecycle. Agile is a methodology that divides a sizable, complex task into smaller ones. It helps startups make incremental changes and respond to changes quickly.

With Agile, software teams work in smaller iterative loops or sprints. They analyze the required changes, write codes, implement the updates, test them, and get feedback quickly. Because Agile prioritizes speed and communication, developers collaborate closely with project management tools like Jira, Slack, and Asana.

As a result, startups are more flexible and responsive when adjusting their software to customer’s needs. At Uptech, we use Agile methodologies to help startups navigate evolving value requirements, consolidate ideas, and build multi-feature products.

7. Strategic planning and MVP development

Once the app idea is validated, the next phase involves resource allocation, identifying tech stacks, and scheduling key milestones. For startups, it means diverting your limited resources into building the app.

We recommend developing an MVP to quickly launch your product to the market. When building the MVP, focus on key features that solve problems identified in the previous stage. This allows you to maintain a lean operation, reduce costs, and accelerate development.

Download this MVP development checklist to help you conduct user surveys, prioritize features, and incorporate other best practices in your MVP. You can also reach out to our team to build one. We’ve helped startups like Nomad and Yaza create MVPs that validated their idea quickly and affordably.

software development outsourcing

8. Quality assurance and testing strategies

Post-release issues can significantly impact your startup’s reputation. Rather than testing the entire software after it’s built, make testing a priority at every stage. This helps your developers identify and resolve bugs before they become more complicated.

For example, your QA engineers conduct unit tests for every software module to ensure they function correctly. Then, they perform integration tests so that all software modules work cohesively together. QA teams should also test software for vulnerabilities and security risks before release.

Coordinating testing with development efforts requires careful planning and setting up a test environment. QA engineers must collaborate closely with developers to design test cases, which they use to assess code quality, identify flaws, and document them.

9. Deployment, scaling, and maintenance

Software release is one of a startup's most important steps in software development. A smooth release allows you to onboard users, engage them, and get early feedback on the app. To achieve that, choose a cloud provider that offers scalable, secure, and cost-friendly infrastructure.

For example, cloud providers like AWS offer managed services to simplify deployment. You can also use continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) tools to automate software deployment and updates on the cloud. This allows your team to quickly attend to events that require immediate attention.

10. Post-launch support and evolution

Releasing your app doesn’t ensure a successful launch. Providing continuous support and improvement does. During the first several weeks post-launch, users might report bugs, submit change requests, or voice their opinions on the app.

By analyzing app and interaction data, your team can quickly identify common or urgent issues from volumes of incoming requests. Pay attention to the feedback and remediate promptly to ensure user satisfaction. If you’ve set up a CI/CD pipeline, as we suggested above, you can automatically release patches without disruptions.

software development for startup

Best Practices In Software Development for Startups

Even following the steps we mentioned, developing software is still a complex task requiring talent, coordination, technologies, and other resources. To help you release successful apps, we share insights from years of software development experience.

software development for startups

Start with MVP

Some startups pushed through a complete solution to the market only to find that users were not interested in most features. By doing that, they spend too much time and unnecessary expenses to create a product the market doesn’t want.

Instead, it’s better to build an MVP, get user feedback, and improvise to fit the user’s needs. Once you’ve achieved a good product-market fit, gradually expand the app by implementing features that further enrich the user experience.

Make data-driven decisions

Founders face numerous decisions daily, which they must make fast. With data, you can make decisions more confidently, particularly if it involves the app you’re building. For example, you can analyze past user behaviors with AI to determine future purchasing trends. Then, develop features that will likely be in demand soon.

Don’t skip product discovery

While data analysis can produce actionable insights, it doesn’t replace the product discovery phase. Product discovery helps you validate ideas and ensure there’s an actual and sizeable demand for your software idea. It involves surveying the audience, analyzing competitors, researching the market, assessing risks, and more to provide a clear direction for your developers.

Skipping this process means you’re putting your business at risk. Your development effort could also consume more resources and deviate from the expected timeline. Worst, you may end up with an app that users don’t want.

Document everything

By everything, we mean every requirement, specification, decision, code change, result, and other information directly impacting the development effort. Documenting prepares you for uncertainties. If a key member leaves, their replacement can quickly take over by studying the detailed documentation.

Be mindful of the resources

Startups, especially those bootstrapping their operations, have limited time and resources. Besides focusing on building the app, you must also devote your attention to branding, marketing, HR, and other tasks. And this can stretch your resources to the limit.

If you don’t have enough capacity to develop software on your own, consider outsourcing. Work with independent developers who are skilled and experienced in your industry. Outsourcing development works allows you to free up resources to market your app, seek funding, and focus on other business activities.

Uptech’s Experience with Software Development for Startups

Uptech is a software development company for startups and SMBs. We help founders release successful apps from scratch or join the team on the go. We’re aware of the challenging environment that startups operate in and the pace that founders seek. Over the years, our team has partnered with founders worldwide to launch apps with comprehensive app development services.

These are some of our best works.

software development for startups


Nomad is a real estate solution that helps users in the Middle East and Europe sell or buy their homes easily. When they approached us, Nomad’s founders had a clear vision of solving house buyers' problems, but they needed software development expertise.

We made product discovery the project's starting point, held discussions with Nomad’s founders, and conducted dozens of interviews to identify the right market fit. Then, we matched Nomad’s pace to build an MVP that validated their ideas.

Result: Nomad became an intuitive platform with features that buyers and real estate agents find helpful. It’s a result of our focused effort on discovering the market and users to develop a fitting product.  


EaTable helps restaurant businesses to scale by offering cloud kitchen facilities and last-mile deliveries. To do that, EaTable itself needs to be scalable. We worked closely with EaTable’s founder to identify cloud technology that allows them to expand their offering at scale.

Then, we helped Eatable overcome the challenges they faced in their previous workflow. Instead of spending weeks creating a menu, our team developed features that let them update it almost immediately. We leveraged Agile principles to implement incremental changes while releasing the solution on time.

Result: EaTable saved both time and money by releasing an app that proves helpful to its customers.


Yaza is an app that allows users to record and share virtual home tours. However, it was originally meant to be a social mapping app for interesting places. Prior to developing the app, we walked Yaza’s founders through a discovery session. That’s how they discovered the app's actual value for real estate agents.

Designing Yaza requires validating the hypothesis for every functionality we build. The app also gets complicated throughout the process, which we overcome with an iterative approach. Our team fixed the issues we identified before moving on to the next step.

Result: Yaza was released and downloaded by real estate agents, who found the app helpful for quickly creating virtual walk-throughs. Because of the thorough discussion we had with Yaza’s founders, the app evolved from a social app to a real estate app, which brings more value to users.  

How Much Does Software Development Cost For Startups

Building an app can cost between $50,000 to $250,000, depending on several factors. Creating simple web software is cheaper than developing a multiplatform solution with dozens of advanced features. Some apps require complex UI/UX design, which takes more time to design. Others might need integrations with third-party services, which require additional coding and testing.

Software development is resource-intensive, and a significant part of the cost comes from the time developers spend. If you’re hiring an in-house team, you’ll need to pay your developers a fixed salary and other perks. The cost increases considerably when you include hiring advertisements, training, workspace rental, and equipment.

software development for startups

Alternatively, you could hire freelance developers to avoid long-term financial commitments. However, you’ll still need to lead and manage ongoing software development work. On top of that, finding freelancers who have the skills, experience, and capacity to take on your project is not easy.

Hiring software developers, in-house or freelance, is expensive in some countries. For example, companies pay $8,504 monthly on average when hiring developers in the US. That’s why some founders outsource their software projects to reduce hiring expenses. They engage offshore development companies in Ukraine to save costs while getting quality deliverables.

Let’s compare the cost of building a simple mobile app through in-house hiring and outsourcing to mid-level developers.

Feature Hour Cost (US)
$140 / hour
Cost (Ukraine)
$56 / hour
Tutorial screens 30 $4,200 $1,680
Sign in 80 $11,200 $4,480
Home page 200 $28,000 $11,200
Photo/video 60 $8,400 $3,360
User profile 70 $9,800 $3,920
Search 60 $8,400 $3,360
Chat 90 $12,600 $5,040
Notifications 40 $5,600 $2,240
Total $88,200 $35,280


Software development is critical to startup success — but only if you implement it correctly. Proper software planning lets you position your startup for growth while validating ideas early on. From conceptualization to supporting your users post-release, every software development phase we describe helps you build solutions your audience wants.

At Uptech, we help founders ideate, strategize, develop, and release software by seeking user involvement throughout the development process. Our approach has resulted in the successful launch of Nomad, Eatable, Yaza, and other apps. We can help you adapt to changing situations while getting your app to the market on time.

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