How Many Developers Does A Startup Need?

How Many Developers Does A Startup Need?

Estimated read time: 9 minutes

Are you wondering how many developers does a startup need?

You have most likely come up with an innovative software product idea and have researched the target market with the potential benefits. Now is the time to find a great team to realize your idea into a successful software product. 

But how many people will your startup need to develop software successfully? That is a valid question with a range of possible answers. 

The size of your development team will for sure depend on the type and scale of your software product. A development team, in general consist of software developers, quality assurance testers, business analysts, and a project manager. 

But how many web and mobile app developers and testers a startup needs to build a successful mobile app or a web application, including its rigorous testing and successful deployment.

Let’s explore in detail how many developers a startup requires to write software.

Number of developers a startup needs

If you search in the software industry, you will find startups with small cross-functional development teams with a maximum of 2-3 software developers who are also responsible for writing unit tests, software documentation, and resolving deployment issues. 

On the other hand, you will also see large corporations with large development teams who do not even write new code daily and release new features frequently. 

At a minimum, you will require the following software development roles at your startup:

  • Project Manager to assign and manage the work of each team member. He or she will be responsible for implementing the right development methodology and supporting framework and tools.
  • Designer to help you design an interactive user interface meeting UI/UX requirements.
  • Backend developer to write the backend code of your software.
  • Mobile developer – an iOS, Android, or hybrid mobile app developer to develop mobile app code.
  • App Tester to perform various quality assurance and security test routines on your software application.

The size of your app development team will certainly depend on your resources, however, it also depends on the development approaches you plan to adopt for your software product. You cannot expect one individual to build, test, deploy, and manage your entire project, especially if it is built on multiple platforms using a range of technologies.


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Different software development methodologies require diverse skillsets to build and manage different aspects of the software development process. It is better to have a resource with the specialized skills to perform the task seamlessly and at minimum costs. 

Different development approaches that can affect the number of developers in your startup to write software are as follows:

Cloud Computing

Cloud infrastructure is getting immensely popular today to build software products quickly. A software application needs some resources such as servers, storage, networking, etc. to build and run seamlessly. Cloud service providers provide these resources on the cloud. 

Moreover, they are responsible for the management and timely updates of these computation resources while your software developers can focus completely on application development.

As you can see, cloud platform-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service can relieve you from many on-premises tasks and qualified professionals to handle them. For example, You will not need an IT operator to manage your on-premises application servers.

Read more on cloud development on our blog here.


Development and Operations refer to practices and tools that enable the implementation of a faster software development lifecycle. It automates several tasks in the development pipeline like source code version control, dependency management, running deployment scripts, configuration management, etc. 

If you want to keep up with the latest industry practices and meet frequently changing market demands through faster development and deployment of software, you will have to hire individuals with the required skills and experience.

Although DevOps practices are applied throughout the development and deployment lifecycle by software engineers and testers, you may require a DevOps engineer to build a DevOps pipeline for your software development process.

Native or Hybrid Development

If you are developing a mobile application, you will have to adopt one of the two development approaches – native or hybrid development approach. 

A native mobile app is built for a specific operating system and is able to give optimized performance using the hardware of a mobile device like processor, GPS, etc. The user experince is top-notch with a native mobile app.

If you plan on building a mobile app for the Android operating system, you will need app developers proficient in Kotlin or Java programming languages. Moreover, they should be familiar with supporting tools and platforms, like Espresso testing tool, Eclipse IDE, Android emulator, Android Jetpack, etc.

For iOS apps, the required skill set is completely different. iOS developers work with Swift or Objective-C programming languages. They use supporting tools like XCode IDE, XCTest for iOS testing, CocoaPods for dependency management, Applyzer to monitor the app’s performance in the Apple store, etc.

You can start by hiring one developer (iOS or Android) at a minimum budget. If you want to build apps for both platforms, you can hire two developers at once (Android and iOS) to develop two mobile apps simultaneously.

Another approach for swift app development is to invest in the hybrid app development process. It uses React-Native to provide a near-native experience to mobile apps. These apps are cross-platform web apps that are placed in a lightweight native container. 

When downloaded and installed on a device, it uses certain native capabilities of a mobile device. However, the user experience is not as fulfilling as with a native mobile app. 

The upside is that you can start with a single react native developer experienced in hybrid app development frameworks like Xamarin, Ionic, etc. You can build an app that runs on all mobile platforms while spending fewer resources in terms of time and money.

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Read our blog to find more on which mobile platform to build an app for first.

API Development

API market is growing rapidly around the globe and is expected to reach a value of $8.41 billion by 2027. APIs allow easy accessibility to a range of software services that you can integrate into your software product without building them from scratch.

Although third-party APIs lets you build a feature-rich software application in a limited time, you should be vigilant about the extent of external dependencies in your software product.

For your core software features, it is better to build them on your own as APIs so that users can interact with them easily. You can use popular API architecture like Rest GraphQL and code in any programming language like Python, Java, etc.

Consult our blog on how you can build a REST API for your mobile application.

If you plan on doing API development for your software application, factor this in when hiring developers for your startup.

Application Security

Software security is of utmost importance when you plan to build a software product for a heavily regulated industry like financial services or healthcare. These industries follow a set of regulations that must be complied with in order to gain market trust. 

Most of these regulatory requirements are concerned with user data security. To ensure a secure user experience on your software application, you should have cyber security professionals in your team that understand security vulnerabilities and cyber attacks, and are able to mitigate them proactively.

Read about the top cyber security issues enterprises face in our blog here.

A cyber security engineer will help in adopting the right cybersecurity framework, integrating cybersecurity tools, implementing cyber security practices like encrypting everything, timely updating software, etc.

If you are planning to launch in a regulated industry, make sure to include a cybersecurity developer in your startup team.

Specialized Technology

The latest developing technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, blockchain, etc. require specialized development skills and a deep understanding of the technology domains. 

For example, if you plan on applying a machine learning model in your software app, you will require machine learning developers proficient in the related machine learning algorithms and tools, like TensorFlow, Keras, etc., to build and deploy ML models efficiently.

Similarly, for applying augmented reality or virtual reality experience in your software app, you will need to hire developers familiar with VR tools like UnityVR, Unreal engine, etc.

Blockchain is another popular technology today paving the way for a decentralized, immutable, and transparent database technology which presents a range of use cases from recording financial transactions, medical records, insurance records, etc.

If you want to build a blockchain-based software or a DApp, you will need blockchain developers with experience and knowledge about blockchain development tools and technologies like Ethereum, Lisk, Hyperledger Fabric, etc.

Read our blog here on undertaking the development of a decentralized application.

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Final thoughts on how many developers does your startup need

The above explanation shows that to start at a bare minimum you can have 4-5 people (a project manager, designer, backend or mobile app developer, and tester) in your startup to write software successfully. 

If you want the process to be faster, you can add 1 or more developers to your team. For example, you can start developing web and mobile apps or apps for more than one mobile OS simultaneously.

However, if you want to incorporate some niche technology like AI, VR, etc. you will need a software engineer with the specialized knowledge and skillset. 

Similarly, if you want to create a software product with tight regulatory requirements you will need a professional experienced in meeting those standards effectively. 

Also, if you are writing software with security-critical features like a fintech app, you will need application security engineers to ensure complete security from cyberattacks and other vulnerabilities.

As you can see, software development can be accomplished with a few people, however, the key is to select the right and competent people for your startup. You may want to start with just one core backend developer and a designer, but if the end product is not up to the standard, you will be back to square one. 

Therefore, we would advise you to partner with highly-skilled software developers who have experience in developing market-competitive products using cutting-edge technologies.

 If you do not have such capable developers as an in-house team, given the excess expenses they come with (office space and utility maintenance, costly hiring process, etc.), you can outsource developers from a reputed software development agency.

Although such developers may come at a higher rate than a freelance developer, they save you from many pain points that come with working with freelance developers. You will get more guarantee for their work and skills, moreover, they are managed by the development company. 

You can even start with just one qualified software developer and scale your team if the need arises. This gives you enough surety that you are spending your resources in the right place.

If you are unsure where to find such a software development partner, why not take a look at the field-expert software developers community at DevTeam.Space. We have experienced developers proficient in all the latest technologies. 

You can easily partner with these developers by sending us your initial software project requirements. One of our account managers will get back to you to assist your further in the onboarding process, project planning, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions on how many developers a startup needs for software development

1. How many people does a startup need to make the software?

You can start making a software product with a project manager, designer, tester, and developer according to your development tech stack. However, having too few developers can make the development process quite slow. If you have more specialized requirements or want to go faster, you will have to hire more people. On average, you can go with 4 to 9 people on your startup team.

2. Can 1 person build a software application?

One person may write a software app, however, to successfully build, deploy, and manage the app with complex functionality, like an inventory management system, using the latest technology and development practices, you will need to hire a few developers for the whole process.

3. How long does it take to write software?

You may find answers saying it takes 5 to 6 months on average to write a software app. However, it really depends on the scope of your software project and the complexity of app features. The best way to get an estimate is to consult with an experienced software development agency like DevTeam.Space.


Alexey Semeney

Founder of DevTeam.Space

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Alexey is the founder of DevTeam.Space. He is award nominee among TOP 26 mentors of FI's 'Global Startup Mentor Awards'.

Alexey is Expert Startup Review Panel member and advices the oldest angel investment group in Silicon Valley on products investment deals.

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