In our line of work, we see a ton of terrific ideas and usually hear very standardized messaging around them. It usually follows a consistent tune of "We're looking to get a working prototype as proof of concept" or "We don't have much budget so we're getting quotes to get investors interested.".
The truth is that good ideas need to get exposure to be successful and web firms have a difficult time turning away great ideas. At the same time, we're first and foremost in the business of developing and creating unique web presences for clients that are able to compensate us fairly for our efforts. So what is one to do when the best web firm available has to make sure it keeps it's business profitable?
We at Unleashed Technologies regularly invest in great ideas and our clients because not all circumstances are ideal. With that being said, I'm providing a detailed item list that may help you get a web firm on board with your big idea.
One of the worst things you can do is to solicit or approach a top tier web firm with "I have an idea" and provide no solid business background, strategic planning, or software layout of what that idea is. Speaking in generalities without supporting documentation or a clear vision is a sign that you're not ready to be asking anyone to take a risk on your big idea.
If you come to the table with no budget or limited funds, expect to compensate your web firm in kind for their initial efforts. That could mean commissions for the life of the software for every license sold, it could guaranteed two year commitment of "x" on funding or continued work. Whatever the situation, if you want to utilize an enterprise team, you have to decide if sharing your long term vision with them is something you really want to do.
Web firms get busy like many other companies, and it may be that your project start needs to be delayed. It's still the responsibility of the web firm to provide you fair and accurate guidelines for your project deliverables, but in many instances that schedule will be delayed for paying clients. If you need it done yesterday and want top priority you need to express that up front and the web firm will respond in kind. Being demanding with someone that's taking a risk on your vision with no guaranteed benefit is not a good strategy.
You're going to connect with many different web firms about your project as you're looking for the right match. I know at Unleashed Technologies, LLC, everyone has to be passionate about an investment project for us to move forward. If anyone on the core contributing team isn't excited or doesn't see the value, then the answer comes back to the person presenting the opportunity as "It's not the right fit.". This doesn't mean that another firm won't see the value in the project and want to move forward. Understand that by asking someone to review your opportunity and make a leap of faith with you opens the doors for their opinions on your concept and corresponding revenue models.
Nobody likes to be dictated to and you need to trust your web firm on their recommendations about your project as much as possible. If you ask them to invest in your idea with sweat equity, expect that they'll have strong opinions as a poor decision from either side effects everyone's success.
As a rule of thumb, many of us (web firms) take these projects on very selectively so you need to utilize your one opportunity to provide a clear and succinct vision of your big web application/website idea. Best of luck on your web endeavors and Unleashed Technologies wishes everyone success on their next big idea.