Is 150K USD a reasonable rate to build a mobile app?

30 July 2023 ยท Updated 30 July 2023

As a startup founder, I've recently been quoted a rate of 150K USD for the development of a mobile app for my product. I'm trying to understand if this is a reasonable amount to invest in our app development. I've also had a quote of 50K for wireframes/designs from an agency? What factors should I consider when determining whether this is a fair price? How does this rate align with industry standards? How can I evaluate the potential return on this investment and ensure that it aligns with our startup's budget and financial goals?


So, you’ve been quoted a cool 50K for designs and 150K for your mobile app development. That’s a hefty sum, and it’s only natural to wonder if it’s worth it.

Short answer: it depends. It depends on a lot of things, on the complexity of the app and on the “coolness” of the designs. The numbers that you have here are reasonable, yes.

Long answer:

In the world of app development, costs can be as varied as the apps themselves. A simple app with basic functionality might cost as little as a few thousand dollars to develop, while a complex app with multiple features and integrations can run into the hundreds of thousands (I won’t say millions because you usually split the development into versions with each version costing hundreds of thousands, but the overall costs can go into the millions)

The price tag depends on a multitude of factors. How complex is your app? Are we talking about a straightforward, single-function app or a multifaceted beast with all the bells and whistles? Who’s doing the development? A seasoned pro with a track record of successful apps will command a higher price than a recent coding bootcamp grad. And how fast do you need it? Rush jobs come with rush premiums.

๐Ÿšจ It's all fair as long as the value you receive is the value equal to or greater than you expected.

Now, let’s talk about industry standards. While there’s a wide range, 150K is certainly on the lower end for a complex app. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cheap. Even if it was 300K-500K, which would’ve been on the higher-end. If you’re getting top-tier talent, cutting-edge functionality, and a quick turnaround, it’s worth the investment.

You need to remember โ€” it’s not just about what the app costs to develop. It’s about what it can deliver in return. Will this app drive significant revenue for your startup? Will it give you a competitive edge? Will it engage users in a way that’s critical to your business model?

Of course, you’ve got to weigh all this against your startup’s budget. Even the most amazing app won’t be worth much if it bankrupts your business. And remember, prices can often be negotiated. Or perhaps there’s a way to trim down the scope for now and add more features as your revenue grows.

Here are some things to keep in mind when negotiating with an agency or a freelancer:

  1. Make sure to articulate your expectations, project requirements, and deadlines clearly from the outset. This will save you money in the long-term.
  2. Before starting any work, ensure that all agreements are clearly documented in a contract. This should include the scope of work, payment terms, intellectual property rights, and any other key terms. This is for your protection, as well as the protection of the agency.
  3. Do your due diligence before hiring an agency or contractor. Ask for references and take the time to review their past work. This can give you a sense of their capabilities, reliability, and the quality of their work. Usually, the website is a good place to start โ€” there should be case studies of their previous work.
  4. Decide which project management tools are going to be used, as they can help you to have an overview of what’s going on. These tools provide a centralized place to track progress, manage tasks, and facilitate communication among all team members.
  5. Agree on a clear process for providing feedback and requesting revisions. You’re basically defining what is the definition of done and how you will accept the feature as done. It’s crucial to discuss this beforehand. This helps to ensure that the final product meets your expectations.
  6. Discuss what post-project support the agency or contractor will provide. There’s usually some sort of an SLA agreement to maintain the software bug free. This could include fixing bugs, providing updates, or offering training on how to use the product. You need to understand it’s never built it one time and forget โ€” there’s always going to be maintenance needed. Software landscape changes, underlying libraries get deprecated.
  7. Choose the agency that fits your “vibe” and maintain a respectful and professional relationship with them. If you’re both having fun while building the product โ€” then you’re doing it right. This will ensure a smooth working relationship, foster a positive working environment, and ultimately contribute to the success of the project.

In the end, only you can decide if XXX’000 USD charged rate is a reasonable rate to build your app. If you have that in the budget โ€” then go for it, if you’re trying to low ball the agency, then they’re probably not the right partner for you and you should choose a different one. If you’re sure they can deliver an awesome product that fits your expectations, it’s worth paying the money.

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  • Lokesh

    I’ve been through a few app launches and the reality of post-launch costs hits like a freight train every time. In my most recent project, despite all the agile development and scalable tech stacks, maintenance and SLA ate away at our budget faster than anticipated. We focused so much on creating a cutting-edge app, we naively overlooked the ongoing expenses.

  • Oliver P.

    From personal experience, I’ve noticed a big gap in understanding the actual costs involved in app development, especially among new founders. It’s important to remember that what you’re investing in isn’t just code โ€” it’s the future of your business. One thing that wasn’t touched upon is the value of a solid post-launch support plan. In my ventures, allocating budget for updates and maintenance after the app goes live has been a game-changer, ensuring the product remains relevant and functional as technology evolves. This aspect often seems overlooked but can significantly impact the long-term success of your digital product.