I've been hesitant to write this post for a while. I'm a true idealist, and I know that the littlest bit of discouragement can hurt a dream. However, this has been a long time coming, I'm going to try and do it with kid gloves.
A good idea is not enough. I know no one has thought of a way to network single nurses to doctors who want to have affairs and large payrolls (if you know what I mean). Yes, you are the first one who came up with the concept of sharing only children's birthday parties on a network of school aged children that enjoy horseback riding. While all your friends wouldn't shut up about the new twitter API changes, you were home working on your business plan for the SMS driven app that links construction workers standing on corners with guys in pickup trucks and questionable ethics. None of these things have been done, you are a genius, bravo.
I can't tell you the horrors I've seen of people getting ripped off playing the start up game. I am not going to bore you with stories about developers who were in the midst of deploying apps they worked months on only to go unpaid and never rewarded. I don't know if it is the Facebook movie, or the amount of capital getting thrown around the market, but every developer I know is getting bombarded with opportunity. I can't tell you the golden ratio of making a Gmail Killer. I can tell you what I've seen, and how best to avoid becoming a roadkill on the superhighway. Buckle up.
The person that will be your CTO for mostly sweat equity is not someone you want building your application. I now live in a world where "CTO" or "Technical Cofounder" is a fancy way of saying "someone in this relationship is being had." On one end you have a person that is investing all the money that they got from selling their grandmother's minivan in a single person that is telling them they are a developing machine that is going to bring them from zero to Mashable with $10,000. On the other hand you have a founder who has happened upon a recent grad who wants to prove themselves, and will work 90 hour weeks until it's obvious to everyone involved that they are in over their heads.
Founders, the odds are against you that you've found the perfect person to create your app. The developer that is qualified to build an app from the ground up is not running around tech events handing out business cards. They are working for funded companies that respect their knowledge and education enough to give them a full team of people support them.
Developers, someone with a marketing and PR background doesn't know anything about managing a software project. They have no concept of what goes into it, and what is neccessary to make it successful. They don't care that you're architecting, or iterating, or writing unit tests. They want to click the button and see the magic, anything else is overhead and costly.
The developer that tells you "no" is the one you should believe. There is no incentive for us to say "no" or "not possible" or "this will take a very long time" besides saving both of us a lot of headache. The easiest way for me to get you to part with your hard earned cash is to say "This is a fabulous idea! It should take me 6-8 weeks. I will need half up front." If a developer telling you it's a bad idea, or it will take longer than you think, it's because they are being honest. In all likelyhood they've done this a few times, and they don't want you to get burned. If you are hearing this, instead of moving on to the next developer ask for some feedback on how to make it more feasible. We'd love to tell you.
No individual is going to have your best interest in mind. Except your mom, and I don't think that's who we're talking about here. The odds of you finding the perfect person to build your empire in this market are akin to your odds of being hit by lighting, at a Tumblr party, while checking into Foursquare. Sometimes there is magic, sometimes there are sparks, but remember what you are asking this person to do. We don't come to your job and say things like "I think it would be great if you could create this ad campaign for 10% of your usual price. If it makes me money I will share it with you! If not, eeeh, at least we tried." or "Can you give me these implants for free? If I make it as a huge Hollywood celebrity I will give you 40% of my royalties and 9% of my groupies." No, we respect what you do and ask you to do the same.
There are teams of people that build applications from the ground up and that's all they do. You need to find them, vet them, talk to the people they've made happy, and pay them to do what they have done many times. Maybe you will hire a firm, maybe you will find a proven, experienced developer and give them the resources to do so. They are used to talking to people with no tech background, holding their hands through the process, and giving them quality products. Check their previous projects, talk to former clients. If you don't have the money to pay a team to build your application, you don't have an application. Maybe you need to cut some features and be realistic about your budget. Maybe you need to start hitting the streets and talking to VCs. Maybe the nest egg you have would be better invested elsewhere.
I hope I haven't burst any bubbles, I am not here to tell you not to follow your dreams (both founder and developer). I just think there is a real void in communication here, and a lot of people getting burned. If you want to make your vision a reality don't let anything stop you, just educate yourself on what is out there, and make sure your feet are firmly planted in soil.
Oh yeah, and try to get one of those domains that are a real word but have the dot in a funny place. Like port.ly or stalk.me. I hear those are cool now.